Profile picture for SoCal Engr

Any help locating copper mainfolds in a house plumbed using PEX?

Does anyone have any experience or recommendations for how to find all copper mainfolds in a house (all buttoned up and several years after completion)?
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December 06 2011 - Charlotte
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Answers (5)

Profile picture for Pasadenan
Though an infrared camera will work both for the hot and the cold... Toan's idea is a lot less expensive.

If you already own a different metal detector, I would start with that, but if you have stucco as in Toan's photo, the wire-mesh (chicken wire...) may make it harder to find from the outside, and it may be necessary to look in the inside.

I've been very successful at locating copper, galvanized steel pipes, and  cast iron pipes in building walls and ceilings using a metal detector from Radio Shack. It was fairly low cost, but in this specific case, I didn't even purchase it, it was a gift.

One advantage of infrared if one has that option is that you can trace from a known termination point to find the manifold really quickly without random scanning.  The nicer cameras have both visual and infrared so that one can easily identify the location one is looking at.  The better cameras are still about $10k, but the entry level cameras are now down to about $2500.  I still haven't bought mine as 1) the technology keeps improving and the price keeps dropping, and 2) I just wouldn't use it enough to justify that expense presently.

Of course the cameras can be rented.
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December 07 2011
The best and most accurate way is by using an electronic pipe location equipment.  I have used several other types of electronic pipe location equipment in the past and found none of them to be quite as accurate and precise as the MetroTech 9800 series device. 

Here is a project where I had to locate a copper manifold and perform a "cut and cap" so that the re-routed pipe reverse feeds the system.
 
Homes plumbed in this fashion are typically the 2 story type.  The main reason for plumbing a home this way is so that it would save the contractor or builder money.  During the first stage of the plumbing project, called the "underground", type L copper tubes are rolled from one fixture to the next and the plumber would extend the pipes a couple of feet above grade.  Concrete now gets poured and after it cures, framers begin to construct the walls.  It is during the second phase of the plumbing project called the "top out", is when the PEX pipe is used to supply the fixtures located on the top floors. 
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December 07 2011
Profile picture for SoCal Engr

@ Sunnyview...

Interesting thought, at least for the hot water side of the house.

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December 06 2011
Profile picture for sunnyview
This sounds a question for Pasa. He has a lot of knowledge that might apply. What about using infrared to "see" the heat signature differences between the PEX and the copper? Would that work?
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December 06 2011
Profile picture for the_country_hick
Short of using a metal detector or asking the people who put the system in I am out of ideas.
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December 06 2011
 
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