Can i use a water heater as my source for the in floor Pex tubing system?


A PEX radiant floor involves laying down a tubing circuit into a floor. The PEX tubing will then have hot water run through it which turns the entire floor into a radiant heat source. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene, which is made synthetic rubber or polymer tubing. You do have to make sure the PEX tubing you choose has an oxygen-diffusion barrier. If oxygen flows freely in a radiant system, it can damage iron or steel components in a boiler or circulator.

A radiant heat system consists of a series of tubes or electrical wiring laid underneath the floor. The tubes or wiring carry heat or energy in specific zones and emit or radiate heat to the surface.

When radiant heating was introduced, it was intended to be hydronic that is, they employ warm or hot water to heat surfaces. In the beginning the tubing used was copper mainly for its heat conducting properties.

Copper had the disadvantage of rendering a system inoperable if a piece should break off,...

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How hydronic radiant floor heating works

Hydronic radiant heating system

A hydronic system uses a heat source, a pump and PEX tubing. Because there can be no joints in the PEX tubing in the floor, uncut lengths of tubing snake through the floor, starting and ending at a manifold.

Photo: Courtesy of The Family Handyman

Unlike forced-air heating, which works by blowing warm air through large ducts, a hydronic system uses a dedicated water heater or a boiler (or even your existing water heater) as a heat source. A circulating pump moves the hot water through the PEX tubing and back to the heater. Because there can be no joints in the PEX tubing in the floor, uncut lengths of tubing snake through the floor, starting and ending at a manifold. The manifold balances the water in individual loops (lengths of tubing) and vents the system. The water returns to the bottom of the water heater near the drain about 10 degrees cooler than when it left.

What to look...

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Which would you use?

Hi Mike,

Every professional plumber will have their favorite product and you should too!

Let me give you (and my readers) some information on both Pex and CPVC so that you can better reach an educated decision.

Pex is a water supply piping system that doesn’t corrode or develop pinhole leaks, is chlorine-resistant, scale-resistant, and has fewer fittings, connections, and elbows than rigid plastic and metallic pipe

Image courtesy of NAHB Research Center

PEX pipe is approved for potable hot- and cold-water plumbing systems and hot-water (hydronic) heating systems in all model plumbing and mechanical codes across the U.S. and Canada. PEX piping systems are durable, provide security for safe drinking water, and use reliable connections and fittings. There are currently about ten domestic producers of quality PEX piping.

Brass fittings and couplings and polyethylene tees...

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I agree with above posts, PEX install is relatively easy, not a 2, but perhaps 6 out of 10 IMO.

Couple of details to consider. First, PEX degrades rapidly if exposed to sunlight, so do not store it where it will be subject to direct sun. I bought my PEX in 100 foot coils, if you have a lot of work to do you can also get 200 and even 500 foot coils, saves on the per foot basis.

I use the Wirsbo expander system, which as has been mentioned requires a tool that costs about $300. Given the overall cost of the project, I did not feel that a $300 tool versus a $100 crimp ring tool made that much difference, and I like the simplicity of the system, but there are those who swear by the crimp ring system, and I defer to them as I have never used crimp rings. I have a couple of sharkbite fittings in my system, which I like where you need a disconnect. Sharkbites are a bit pricey, so you would not want to do your whole house in them, but as a disconnect for PEX they are...

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ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)

What is the flame spread rating for ABS pipe?

Flame spread tests, such as the ASTM E-84 tunnel test, are designed to test the flame spread characteristics of flat surface materials, such as draperies and finish materials. Since ABS DWV piping systems are installed behind walls, under floors and above ceilings, flame spread tests are not appropriate.

What product & performance standards apply to ABS pipe and fittings?

The ASTM Standards relating to ABS for plumbing and plumbing-related applications are:

D1527 - Pipe, Schedules 40 & 80. D2235 - Solvent Cement. D2321 - Underground Installation Procedures. D2468 - Fittings, Schedule 40, Socket Type. D2661 - Schedule 40 DWV Pipe & Fittings. D2751 - Sewer Pipe & Fittings. D3212 - Elastomeric Joints for Drain and Sewer Pipes. D3965 - Rigid ABS Compounds for Pipe/Fittings. F402 - Safe...
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