Hot & Cold Water
In Florida, on Merritt Island just south of Cape Canavaral, a custom home is finishing construction and Speedfit along with Speedfit PEX was used for the majority of plumbing connections, again whole house. Developer Mike DeChristopher is building his dream house on the water, a 4,250 sq. ft. one-and-a half story house with three bedrooms and two indoor jacuzzi’s. Mike didn’t want to lay any piping under the home’s slab because of problems he’s experienced in the past; he had a time consideration on his hands (work had to be done after hours), and he didn’t like the current price of copper.
When approached by John Guest USA’s local rep about using Speedfit for the house, DeChristopher, who with his partner normally direct use of copper and some CPVC of late, decided to go with plastic Speedfit after conducting his own research on the product and its use. “I did my homework on the pros and cons,” Mike says, “and I couldn’t find any cons.” Tom Walker Plumbing of Coco Beach did the installation, again a first-time us of plastic. The crew at Tom Walker has had problems with brass fittings and CPVC leaks in the past, so the opportunity to use Speedfit helped open up a new product option to them.
“Speedfit is great compared to copper,” says Dave Bell of Tom Walker Plumbing. He figures using Speedfit over copper cost just a quarter of copper’s price tag for such a large home and saved a quarter of normal installation. To get a better sense of just how much time his crew saved, Dave gives a simple example: in one of the house’s bathrooms it took his crew just 30 minutes to complete the hot and cold water plumbing connections. Using copper the same work would have taken half a day.Bell estimates that it took just 16 hours to finish the plumbing connections in Mike’s house, as compared to probably eighty hours – or two weeks of work – using copper. “We’re going to take a good look at using Speedfit again,” he says.
Mike DeChristopher is sold on Speedfit. “I’m impressed with it,” he comments. Considering the time savings and price of copper, Speedfit should definitely be used.” He and his partner intend to use it on next jobs. Regarding the concern about leakage, Mike has this to say: “I’m confident of the product because, as I see it, several things have to fail for a leak to occur – either the pipe insertion was not fully made or the collet gripper and O-ring have to fail. This is a well engineered product and I don’t see that happening.”
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Minnesota master plumber Bob Berg has worked with the John Guest line of Speedfit® products many times before on retrofit and repair jobs, especially in winter where ease of use and elimination of the need for tools can be a godsend in a day – or nights’s work. Bob has learned from his experience and highly recommends using Speedfit for retrofit jobs. “Working under a trailer or mod home, in the dead of winter when you’re laying on your back and you have about eighteen inches of space to work in, the John Guest products are a dream to work with,” he says. “You just don’t expect any problems using John Guest.”
Now Bob’s firm, Infinity Plumbing of Dennison, Minnesota, has had the chance to work with the JG Speedfit line on a much bigger retrofit job: installing the plastic fittings and accompanying JG Speedit PEX piping in a two-story, 1,800 sq, ft. home donated to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and moved across town from its original location in Prior Lake, MN, south of the Twin Cities. Donation of the Speedfit fittings and PEX was coordinated by John Guest’s Regional Sales Manager for the Midwest, Jeff Nehring.
The three-bedroom, single bath home, built in 1984, was going to be demolished by the new property owner; not wanting to see the home go the route of the wrecking crane and bulldozer, the sellers gave the home to Habitat for Humanity, which moved the structure to a new site in Prior Lake. Although it is not Habitat for Humanity’s practice to receive house donations and arrange for relocations, this particular house was worth saving, according to Laura Kennedy, Communications Manager for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, because it was “made with green materials and was structurally sound.” “This is an envelope house,” adds Bob Berg, “with energy saving double walls.”
The relocated house was set on a new basement foundation. With the original copper pipe left in the home, Berg’s three-man crew went to work tying on the donated Speedfit fittings and PEX to six existing copper pipe connections serving the home’s new AO Smith hot water heater, washing machine, wash sink and kitchen faucets. 35 to 40 JG CTS fittings were used along with about 200 ft. total of ½ and ¾” JG PEX.
Made entirely of lead free engineered plastic, Speedfit fittings are of a “push-fit” design – in this case the Speedfit PEX is pushed into the fittings and secured through JohnGuest’s patented “Twist & Lock” technology. Each Speedfit fitting contains a collet with stainless steel teeth to grip pipe when fully inserted and an EPDM O-ring to provide a permanent leaf-proof seal. Connections are made by pushing pipe into the fittings in their unlocked position up to the pipe stop. The installer then twists the fitting’s screw cap until it touches the body flange. This locks the pipe into position and provides greater compression of the O-ring by increasing its seal around the pipe. Speedfit can be used with copper pipe, CPVC and PEX pipe and is available in CTS ½, ¾ and 1”. It can be used behind the walls and in cramped spaces, made easier because no tools are needed.
Five years ago Bob Berg installed nothing but copper pipe and brass fittings; today he uses PEX with manifolds and valves since Minnesota state code allows only limited use of CPVC. His crew was “really impressed” with the ease of use of the JG Speedfit product and PEX: “It worked very well and it went so fast,” he says. (John Guest estimates that using Speedfit can reduce installation time up to 40 percent.)
“I would certainly use Speedfit in the right situation,” says Bob Berg, who cautions that making sure that the product stays in its packaging until time of use is important to prevent dirt getting into the O-ring and causing a potential leak path. “Overall it’s a very good product, and I can see it catching on,” he notes. Berg works with one custom home builder most of the time, plus with a few select area remodelers. Despite the economy, his work has been steady all along. “We’ve been busy,” he says. Because his builder goes with Bob’s recommendations on which plumbing products to use, his jobs may see more use of Speedfit in the months and years ahead.