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Samurai Appliance Repair Man's Blog

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What's wrong with this picture?

Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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This is a picture from a recent service call I did. That white/translucent plastic tubing you see coming out of the floor and connecting to the gray PEX tubing on the refrigerator is a big No-No. That's a flood waiting to happen. Think about it: that plastic tubing us under household water pressure 24/7-- that's 40 to 60 psi. Combine that with with the fact that it gets hot behind a refrigerator that's pushed back against the wall, especially in summer.

Heat... plastic... brittle... cracked or burst plastic tubing.

And what's to stop the water from spraying out at household pressure when (not if) that plastic tubing breaks? Ain't but one thing: your hand on the shut off valve to stop the water flow.

What if you can't find the shut off valve to stop the water flow because the plumber installed it in a weird location or the house has been renovated since the water line was installed and the valve is inaccessible?

What if you can't reach the shut off valve because it's up behind a drop ceiling and you can't find the ladder during the panic to stop the water?

What happens if you're not home when that cheap plastic tubing bursts, as it inevitably will given enough heat and time?

You get the idea. So how do you avoid all this unpleasantness? Any water supply line or tubing in your house that's under continuous household pressure should only be one of three things: copper, steel-braided flex line, or PEX.

Now, if the plastic water tubing were AFTER the refrigerator's water inlet valve, as is commonly the case with older refrigerators, not such a big deal because 1) the tubing is not under continuous pressure; it’s only under pressure when the solenoid valve opens which 2) only occurs for several seconds every couple of hours or so for the ice maker or on-demand for the water dispenser.

Moral of the story: plastic and household plumbing don't mix.

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DurhamAppliance

Posted

Good info, but looking at the line from the connection leading to and out of the water filter, the water goes to the filter then to the valve. That means the filter and lines are under pressure. aren't those lines plastic or are they pex?

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Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Posted

Great observation, mah bruvah!  I was hoping someone would notice that and ax about it. I knew it would have to be someone with a keen eye for detail. 

 

The gray tubing that you see connecting to the top side of that brass union is the refrigerator's own native tubing which, on most of the newer refrigerators, is PEX. The manufacturers are all transitioning to this for exactly the reasons why plastic tubing should not be used in household plumbing: flood prevention and the resulting liability.  

 

The filter and filter head are always under household pressure but they are much more able to withstand that than the plastic tubing that you see coming up from the floor to the brass union.  

 

Great question!  

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DurhamAppliance

Posted

I must admit, I have installed those plastic lines behind fridges... Home Depot and lowes sell them... surely they know what's best.... right? lol

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What about the excessive length of the white plastic tubing also? Yes, we understand the need for back-of-frig access, but that looks like a good 4 to 6 feet ?!?

That invites kinks in the line when frig is slid up against the wall, thus creating another weak point for the great flood, low-no ice production over time, and H2O dispenser issues.

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I have recently installed 2 of those plastic lines also that lowes and home depot sell. The Watt's brand type. I do understand the difference in durability but I had assumed since watts was selling the lines that they were made to withstand this type of water pressure and are most likely rated for a good amount of pressure. I am a newbie to appliance repair and the lines are fine and have been ok since the jobs were completed But after reading this I'm nervous about the lines that were put in and now I think I should go back and replace them with copper or the steel braided lines. I would not be that difficult to change them out. AM I being to anal about changing these two lines over to something better than the regular plastic line from watts now or do you think I should just from here on in stick to using copper or steel braided lines ???? Any thoughts on this would be appreciated

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DurhamAppliance

Posted

I wouldn't go back but change procedure going forward... but if either one bursts, flood the house damaging rare and expensive hardwood floors.. then forget all I said. lol.

The more I think about it, it is probably a good idea to have customers sign a waiver of liability form for water lines not provided by customer.

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Thanks for the response and I will install different water lines from here on in.

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Have seen John guest hoses develop a hole through no other means 

I see these lines coming out of the floor fairly often but the filter is normally mounted under the sink , but quite often in old 2 story houses it’s under the house which makes it tricky to shut off quickly 

we have seen issues with water lines run in ceiling spaces and springing a leak 

the other issue we have seen is being a metric country plumbers using 6mm hose to fit into johhn guest fittings which are 1/4 or 6.4mm so after a couple of years of water pressure and hose movement from each time the valves open and close they start to leak at the joints 

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