How to Install a Hose Bibb with a PEX Maintenance Loop
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This how to is specifically for installing a new hose bibb with a PEX maintenance loop, as seen on the right. Installing a PEX expansion loop can be added to a replacement hose bibb as well, with enough open space around the current location.
Have you ever had to replace an old hose bibb on the side of your house? If you have copper or CPVC there is no give to the plumbing. If you have a burst pipe just behind the outdoor faucet, there is nothing you can do but open up the wall and patch a new piece of pipe in place.
Let’s give ourselves some wiggle room!
- PEX (we’re partial to Uponor’s PEX-a)
- PEX tube cutter
- PVC cleanout*
- PVC elbow*
- PVC pipe*
- PVC primer/ cement
- PEX talon clips (depends on the size of your PEX pipe*)
- 1/2″ PEX to 1/2″ male NPT connector
- Hose bibb (you’ve got the space if you can include a loop so ideally a frost-free one. Our favorite is Aquor’s V2+ House Hydrant).
*Hose bibbs are generally powered by a 1/2″ or 3/4″ supply line. We ran 3/4″ lines to the hose bibbs to maintain higher water pressure to the loop.
The catch is the Aquor House Hydrant has a 1/2″ female NPT connector. In the PEX maintenance loop we are showing here, the step down from 3/4″ to 1/2″ was done prior to the loop so the entire loop is 1/2″ PEX.
At the time of this install we did not think of piecing the Uponor 3/4″ pipe to a small piece of 1/2″ sweat copper to a 1/2″ PEX to 1/2″ male NPT connector right at the base of the loop just before the hose bibb. For a PEX-only solution you could put the transition from 3/4″ to a small piece of 1/2″ PEX prior to the 1/2″ PEX to 1/2″ male NPT connector.
This means next time, we would run the 3/4″ PEX line all the way through the loop to maintain higher water pressure to the hose bibb. While adding the transition to either sweat copper or PEX would make the hose bibb slightly longer, there is still plenty of space in the bottom of the loop. Lesson learned. It also means the PVC sleeve needs to go from 1-1/2″ to 2″ for the enlarged PEX. This is why I did not specify sizes on the materials list–it depends on the specifics for your installation.
- Channel locks
- Forstner style 2-1/4″ self-feeding drill bit for the final hole through the stud to the hose bibb.
- We use a Forstner Bit Set for other smaller holes through framing because it makes a cleaner hole than spade bits, but spade bits also work
PEX plumbing is required.
PEX is a tried and becoming the go-to plumbing material for many superior performance qualities over copper, galvanized pipe and CPVC: the ability to handle freezing temperatures by expanding and contracting, less cost, and, most importantly for this post, the ability to bend.
PEX has the ability to curve and move with a bit of muscle.
If the rest of the house is using copper, CPVC or some other plumbing material, you can use an adapter to attach the PEX loop without requiring you to change the rest of your plumbing.
The PCV sleeve.
We added in a protective plumbing sleeve using 2” PVC for a few reasons:
- It makes the PEX even easier to move as it is a curved guide.
- It is a protective measure so that there is something protecting the plumbing and frost-free hose bibb on the bottom side of the loop. Likewise, it keeps the rest of the PEX loop towards the inside of the wall, not leaning onto the outside where a nail intended to hold a picture frame can hit it.
- It keeps the PEX from curving too much and folding on itself when the hose bibb is serviced.
First, create a hole in the stud by drilling out the stud using a Forstner style 2-1/4″ self-feeding drill bit in preparation for the PVC sleeve protecting the PEX from outside.
Next, create a PEX loop guide by attaching a PVC elbow to a PVC cleanout, which connects to a straight PVC pipe leading to outside, where the frost-free hose bib slides inside.
Where to install your hose bibb.
Location is key when it comes to installing an expansion maintenance loop. It has to be within a wall. As in, where a wall is perpendicular to an exterior wall.
The loop has to have space to expand and contract as well as extend into a significant amount of space. So it takes up an entire bay within a framed wall.
If your hose bibb is extending out from your unfinished basement, the PEX maintenance loop is easily placed between floor joists or along the wall.
Other considerations when installing a hose bibb with a PEX maintenance loop.
- If you currently have an old school gate valve, this is a great time to upgrade to a frost-free hose valve. As photographed above, the hose bibbs in this house are replaced with high performance Aquor V2 House Hydrants for reasons we mentioned in this post: link.
- If you are already living in a one story house this kind of a home maintenance item is probably not something you want to do right now. While the photos in this post are in an older home, it is obvious that the walls are open due to a remodel. This kind of planning while the walls are open–or better yet when you are still in the blueprint stage–is ideal. If you are repairing a frozen pipe, then yes, certainly consider this–you are already stuck opening up the wall and making repairs.
A PEX expansion maintenance loop can be put in place so that any faucet or supply line endpoint can be easily serviced later. Now there is plenty of space to pull a frost-free hose bibb (or a wonderfully excessive amount for a regular hose bibb) to replace a failing part or swap the whole thing!
Need more pipe because there is a leak? No problem! You can cut off a few inches and still have feet to spare!
Get a behind the scenes–literally in the walls–view of the PEX loop IN ACTION both from outside and inside a house, check out our video below:
Try this yourself? Please come back and share your experience with us in the comments below!
**It still is a good idea to have a shutoff to the hose bibb within the line. If you have a trunk and branch system, a “stop and waste” ball valve (with an access panel if needed) is good plumbing practice. These photos are on a water manifold with home runs to each faucet, but it is still a shutoff where the spigot can be opened and water drained. Perhaps a massive amount of waste in comparison to a shutoff right there, but it is comparable to flushing a toilet and you only turn it off so often.
***If this is in a house where winterizing is necessary, the lines will need to get blown out so that water is not left in the loop.
****Like the look of the Aquor V2 House Hydrant? Check it out here.