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The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix

Three Designs for PEX Plumbing Systems

comments (4) March 2nd, 2009 in Blogs

Trunk-and-branch systems are easy, but waste a lot of water.
Home-run manifold systems use the least hot water and the most pipe.
Submanifold systems can be designed to save hot water.
Trunk-and-branch systems are easy, but waste a lot of water.Click To Enlarge

Trunk-and-branch systems are easy, but waste a lot of water.

By Andy Engel

Incorporating manifolds into the layout can save water and energy because you eliminate most of the pipe between the water heater and the faucet. Although blue (cold water) lines are shown in these layout examples, hot-water layout would be similar. Three design options for PEX plumbing systems are: trunk-and-branch systems, home-run manifold systems, and sunbmanifold systems.

Trunk-and-branch systems are easy, but waste a lot of water

Traditional systems consist of large-diameter (usually 3/4 in.) trunk lines to distribute water throughout a house. Smaller branch lines (1/2 in. and 3/8 in.) tee off to feed individual fixtures. Trunk-and-branch systems have several disadvantages, notably a large number of fittings, which are costlier, slower to install, and more likely to leak than a single run of pipe. Also, a lot of water goes down the drain before hot water reaches the faucet.

Trunk-and-branch system

Home-run manifold systems use the least hot water and the most pipe

A large-diameter (3/4 in.) main water line feeds the manifold; smaller lines run from the manifold to each fixture. Any fixture in the house can be shut off at the manifold. And because home-run systems don't rely on a large pipe for distribution, you save both water and energy. Simply put, you don't have to leave the faucet running as long before hot water reaches the sink. This design flexibility has a cost, however. Because a dedicated line is going to each fixture, you use a lot of PEX and drill a lot of holes.

Home-run manifold system

Submanifold systems can be designed to save hot water

There are many ways to design submanifold systems, which require far less pipe and drilling than a home-run system. Rather than one main manifold, each bathroom, laundry, and kitchen gets its own submanifold. The simplest system, pictured here, won't save any water over a trunk-and-branch system, but other submanifold systems can be configured as water and energy savers by incorporating a main manifold and a recirculating pump.

Submanifold system
Read the complete article...
PEX Pipe: Is Copper On the Way Out?
Cross-linked polyethylene tubing is cheaper to buy, is faster to install, and won't corrode or explode
by Andy Engel
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posted in: Blogs, energy efficiency, plumbing

Comments (4)

PGOttawa PGOttawa writes: I would add that using the same manifold layouts for hot water are actually most wastefull since you have to use up all the cold water in the 3/4" line, fill it with hot before the hot water reaches the fixture vs a 1/2" line. a 3/4" line actually holds more than twice the water per ft over 1/2".

Posted: 12:32 pm on March 3rd

Sodie Sodie writes: Cold water design is simple, but still requires planning to design a system that uses fewer fittings and provides adequate pressure. The hot water design is what is most important because that is where both energy and water are wasted in a poorly designed system.
Posted: 10:07 am on March 3rd

314159 314159 writes: Nice clear graphics. Simple to understand. You describe the "main manifold and a recirculating pump" but don't show it. How about just getting that mornig shower/shave less wasteful and warm quickley. If you recirculate is it cost effective to put split flexable foam insulation. Do the PEX fasteners allow the insulation or does surface mounting not allow effective use of insulation?
Posted: 8:07 am on March 3rd

PKB PKB writes: HUD publishes a good basic guide to PEX It includes this information and much more.

Posted: 11:01 pm on March 2nd

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