New Fresh Water Plumbing

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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Plumbing Page ... Projects

This is a "Flair-It" fitting. They are really easy to use.
It's a great design.

My original polybutylene pipe is 3/8", and my
new Flex-Pex pipe is 1/2".
There was no reason for the size increase,
I just thought that the old stuff was 1/2".

February 2007 --

I've wanted to replace this old pressure pump for a while. It's really noisy. These are excellent pumps, and easy to rebuild, which is probably why they're so popular. However, they also pump water in a very uneven stream, so to get an even stream at the faucet one really needs an accumulator tank.

Mainly, though, it was noisy. Since it was mounted right under my bunk, it was guaranteed to wake me up any time anyone used the galley faucet.

Since I moved the hot water heater there isn't any reason to run the fresh water back to the old location just to pump it. I'll pull this and get some storage space back.

Here's the T fittings in the head.

One comes from the pressure pump,
feeds the head fixture and then goes on to the new water heater.

The other comes back from the water heater, feeds the head fixture and terminates at the galley.

This kept the pipe runs simple,
and eliminated a lot of extra pipe.
However, if someone tries
to take a shower while someone else
uses the galley faucet,
the hot/cold mix will change.
I'm betting that will never happen.

Here's a shot of the pump label.

It's 3.7 gallons per minute at 35 PSI.

I wanted a low flow rate to avoid wasting water. 3.7GPM provides a healthy stream of water,
as a little dribble would be annoying.

In the small sizes, the Flair-It fittings work for both polybutylene and Pex pipe.

You just slip the threaded cap over the pipe, and it creates a good compression seal.

I didn't get the special Flair-It tool, though it would have made this job easier on my hands. Instead I just hand tightened it, then used pliers for the final few turns.

Here's a pic of the new input manifold.

Once it's all dry, and I know that I don't have any drips or leaks, the ends will be strapped to the bulkhead. That'll require some plywood blocks, just like under the pump.

The Groco water filter is new. On the near side, a hose goes up to the pump, and
down to the foot pump for manual fresh water.

This Flojet pump was highly recommended by other boat owners, so I gave it a try.

It's great! It's much quieter and generates a nice smooth flow of water.
I didn't take it apart, so don't know how easy it will be to rebuild.

Note that the motor should be installed above the diaphram pump, so that if it ever leaks it won't wreck the motor.
I mounted two pieces of plywood under the galley sink, glued in place with
3M 4200, so that longer screws could hold the pump secure.

The pump is connected to the new fresh water input manifold with a piece of fiber reinforced PVC hose.

This should make it easy to remove the pump, if necessary,
and also will reduce vibration.

Once the entire new system was connected and pressurized, there were some inevitable leaks. They were all around the NPT fittings, though. None of the Flair-It fittings appear to leak.

The Pex pipe made them much easier to fix, though.
Because the HDPE pipe is so slick, you can just loosen the compression nut and the fitting will turn inside the pipe.
So the nearby NPT connection can be worked on
without having to take everything completely apart.

In this case, I needed to give the little elbow at the water heater another turn, as it was leaking at the top.
That was actually a challenge, as it was on pretty tight.
I was worried about stressing the connection
on the heater itself, as that would be an expensive mistake.

PEX is made of cross-linked HDPE
(High Density Polyethylene.)

It's the same stuff they make tanks from, and it's good, strong and stiff.

The best way to cut it is with cheap PVC pipe cutters from any hardware store. That makes a nice clean cut, which fits easily over the Flair-It fittings.
It was easy to partially assemble it,
mark each section with a felt tip pen,
and cut to fit.

Then go back and tighten down the fittings.

Years ago, I removed the water tank in the V Berth
because it leaked, and because I needed the storage space.
So I only have two input lines, from the two bench tanks.

In retrospect, it was silly to use brass ball valves here.
PVC ball valves would have worked fine,
and cost much less. This was throwing money away.
Oh well.

Note that I didn't replace the polybutylene pipe from the tanks, because that would involve pulling up the cabin sole.
Right now that isn't necessary. If I'm ever under there for a good reason, I'll swap the pipe out with new.
For now, it doesn't leak.

The polybutylene is the gray tubing.

One of the tank runs, though, was a few inches too short once it was moved, so I had to
splice a piece of Flex-Pex onto it.

Plumbing projects
really make a mess!

Next weekend,
when everything's
good and dry,
I'll pressurize the system and look for slow leaks.

And then, put the cabinets back together,
put everything back in the cabinets,
and clean up the boat.

In the head, I just spliced the new Flex-Pex onto the old faucet pipe.

If I ever replace the faucet, I'll replace that final section. For now, the original fittings are on there really tight, and it's really tough to reach from underneath. There's no room for a wrench, so I'd have to get a special faucet wrench. Why bother.

Note that water is everywhere. I hooked up one pipe, then turned on the pressure pump to find out if it was hot or cold water at the faucet. It was a 50/50 chance, but I guessed wrong.
When disconnecting the fitting I discovered that
I'd left the water pressure on, and had a little comic moment.

Next weekend, when everything is good and dry, I'll watch the fittings for leaks and then fasten the pipe down to the bulkhead.

Here's the view under the galley sink,
with the connections to the new galley faucet.

The Flair-It faucet fittings also get my vote
for being really easy to use.

Once everything's dry and I'm sure there are no drips,
these pipes will also be secured to the bulkhead.

What a mess.

Here's the connection at the new water heater.

This NPT fitting is screwed on,
using teflon tape.

Note: (next week) This did NOT WORK, and I'm still dealing with it. PVC is the wrong material. It's too hot. Stay tuned for an update.

What a mess.

This is a great wrench. I originally got it for the rig, as it makes it really easy to work on turnbuckles without scratching them up.

It's a combination crescent wrench and vice grips.

In this case, I clamped it onto the nut on the water heater, and when I turned the leaking fitting it hit the bulkhead and kept the water heater from getting damaged.

What a mess..