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Plumbing a bathroom.... Plastic or copper?

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Absolutely nothing to do with cars...

Started to plan our bathroom refit. I did it ~30 years ago so am going to strip everything out, remove all the tiles, replaster and fit new units.

Up to now I have always used copper pipe and soldered joints throughout our house but looking around the plumbers merchants everything seems to be plastic, pipe and fittings.

The problems is there seems to be a range of incompatible systems, MDPE, JG Speedfit, Hep2O etc

So has anyone used these systems if so which ones or should I just do it old school and get the gas flame out, pipe cutter and copper fittings?

Quite like the idea of fitting the pipework quickly just wonder how good and easy it is to do...



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Who said MDPE, Speedfit, Hep20 are incompatible?

Yes, the joy and speed of using flexible pipework and routing around obstacles is wonderful, this means fewer joints so less chance of a leak.

All the push fittings I have come across also accept copper pipe or MDPE. You must use the reinforcing inserts and a pipe cutter, do not cut with a hacksaw which leaves rough ends not cut square which is not good. 

So, so easy and quick. to use you will never go back to copper. 



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Plastic is a doddle to use, and as long as the pipe cuts are clean/square ( I use a proper pipecutter for plastic pipes) and the pipe is pushed in far enough, they simply don't leak. 

I have plumbed a few houses, and I paid for one to be done 25 years ago that was done in plastic, no issues at all. ( 2 places that had been done by a professional gas-safe plumber had leaks. One had not been pushed on far enough, and let go after 6 weeks. The other the idiot pushed a fitting into a "crimped" copper tail. 14 months. I won't be using him again!

So yes, plastic is good. As far as comparability goes, you need the inserts that match the pipe, but all 25mm fitting fit all pipes. The blue mdpe stuff is different altogether.

Some pipe is rather more flexible. Trust me, fighting a 25m coil of 22mm pipe through holes drilled through floor joists is an absolute mission.

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don't use plastic in roof spaces oroutbuildings with mice , rats or squirrels, not bursting with frost is an advantage but a toothed hole in a small void that you pulled a long length of plastic pipe through can be a bugger to get at and fix!


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While I can see the obvious advantages of plastic pipe and push-fit fittings, for me, in my little monkey brain it lacks the permanence of a proper soldered copper installation.  I suggest the weakest link is the o-rings in the push-fit fittings.  25 years..... ok.  But my house is nearly 50 years old, and that isn't old by house standards.

In the "trade" it also seems to be a gift to "Bodgit and Scarper unLtd".  My house has various layers of plumbing.  The original stuff, all copper, including the heating system looks like it was done by someone who knew their trade and took pride in their work.  Subsequent layers of copper-work look increasingly like the work of a drunken chimp, but the final layer of plastic stuff was done by the chimps untalented apprentice (akin the to kitchen-fitter animals I previously ranted about) with pipes more or less unsecured apart from some string in places (I kid you not), holes drilled in odd places and at strange angles, and all "behind the scenes" debris left where it fell.  I have a document signed (either by the bodger himself or a blind man) to say that the work was done to a competent standard.  The same bodger did the solvent weld drainage pipework on the Saniflow and I've had a previous rant about that......

So if you must use plastic, do it nicely!  

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Are you sure it's only plastic? Here it is called Uponor, however...other brands are available. We use that stuff here since the mid-90s and it is actually metal pipe with a plastic cover. So-called 'more layers piping'. Proper brands have special fittings / connectors to connect the Uponor to copper or the faucets. 

A proper supplier will rent out or even lend you a professional cutter and press for all the connectors you need to attach.


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Re Nick's O-ring concerns, should I mention all the blue mdpe connectors are pushfit and have the very same O-ring? And that means all fairly recent houses in the country. I reckon the rings will outlast me. Easily. And probably expected to last 100years plus.

The other advantages of plastic are no flames (the risk of houses burning down with plumbing work with a blow torch is high) the fittings are more reliable than compression fittings, and as good as soldered. Plus far fewer joints in underfloor etc situations, so lowers risk of leaks. Add to that it reduces the cutting of joists, and pipes can be run lower down and away from numpties nailing/screwing down boards. 

I had a leak on my incoming supply. I fitted the blue stuff, but it appears the orangutan who did my drive altered it (fair enough) but failed to push the pipe fully into the fitting. Must have been ok for 4 years, but worked loose by a tiny bit to give a on/off leak loosing a gallon an hour. Eventually found the leak, but had to dismantle part of a wall. Will be re-built I need the spring, and at the same time it needs repointing. Yep, 5 years old. Did I mention I shall not be using that bricky again? Not sure why the pointing is crumbling over about 70% of the wall. And I hate repointing...

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