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Bring on the cold, MN; we now have heat!

A few months ago we had the asbestos covered pipes removed from the basement because they hung a foot below the ceiling and ran through the middle of our to-be living room.  It's been great not bumping our head on the pipes but there was a problem... those pipes connected our boiler to our radiators, without them we wouldn't have heat for the winter.  Who cares, it's summer right?  Well Minnesota weather decided to go from 90 degrees on Monday to 55 degrees on Wednesday.  That meant it was time to finish this project, pronto!

While the temp in our house dropped to 62, I got to work in the basement.  Luckily I already had all the supplies on hand - I knew I'd have to re-run these pipes soon, I just thought I had another month!

First, I ran new pipe to replace the pipe we removed.  Instead of hanging it a foot below the ceiling, I cut holes in the joists to run the pipe int he ceiling.  Cutting the holes was the worst part of the project.  But once that tiring task was done, I ran some new pip - 1" oxygen barrier PEX, to be exact.

I had never worked with PEX before but I've always heard it's really easy to work with.  So true!  Plumbing with PEX is simple - at least to run the pipe and make the connections.  Figuring out what to connect to what still takes some work.

Once I had the long line of PEX threaded through the holes, I connected the radiators to the PEX.  I used some handy fittings that are threaded to screw onto the original pipe and that have a PEX connection on the other end.

I ran two parallel pipes, one for the "send", the hot water that comes from the boiler, and one for the "return", for the water that's left the radiator and headed back to the boiler to be heated up again. Each radiator has two pipes coming out of it, I connected one pipe to each of my new parallel pipes.  You can see the two connections to one radiator in this photo if you look close!

Things got a little complicated where three radiators met in the same place but it was easy enough to route the PEX to the right places.

For never having tackled plumbing before, I was pleasantly surprised with how easy and quick the whole project was.  The best part is that we have heat in the house again!

Check out the rest of our basement posts!

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  1. Ah don’t say that we don’t have the house ready for winter yet! We have heat but are missing a lot of insulation and still have a big hole into our attic. So our heat has been on for a little while now but we’re rushing to get all of the electrical done so we can get it inspected and insulate the exterior walls.

    So what kind of PEX fittings did you use? The shark bite kind or something else? I prefer copper but we do have some PEX that the plumber installed. I just wonder how those fittings hold up over time. The plumber used a machine for all of the connections so I was more OK with it…and the cost savings over using all copper.

    • This cold really suck up on us, huh? I hope you finish everything soon so you can get insulated! We still don’t have heat or insulation in the basement so I’m working fast too.

      I used crimp fittings, not sharkbite. I’ve heard sharkbite can be used in walls without problem but i went with something a little stronger, in my opinion. PEX is definitely cheaper than Copper, it actually uses fewer fittings too since it can bend… Just one fitting at the beginning and one at the end instead of one each time the pipe turns. I guess time will only tell be so far so good and I put 20 pounds of pressure on it while I was filling the radiators. So far so good.

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