Three times in the last week I have gone to a customer’s home when they have complained of water leaking down through the ceiling or out from under a wall on the first floor. Each time the cause was a ManaBloc plastic water pipe just beginning to leak for no obvious reason. There was no nail sticking into any of them, nor was it strapped tightly to a piece of metal where it would, over time, because of expansion and contraction or vibration, begin to leak. No, in all these instances the pipe just began to spray out water. The common denominator is the ManaBloc system and the type of plastic pipe and fittings that were used. They stopped installing the old version of this system about ten years ago. They were cheaper to install but problems arose,
A ManaBloc system uses a panel board much like an electrical panel except it uses pipes instead of wires. Each individual fixture in the house has a water line run to the hot and cold from the panel box. The panel box is almost always in the laundry room. In the box are individual, plastic lever handle valves. The theory was that individual valves, or angle stops at each fixture were not needed. And also tubs and showers could be easily isolated in this way.
The problem is that once those little plastic valves in the box reach ten years old or so, they will start to leak when you need to use them. When that happens, there is no way to repair them. You have to replace the whole box at a cost of about twelve hundred dollars. Few plumbers will even touch a ManaBloc valve today for this reason. They will turn off all the water by going to the meter because of the possible liability factor. What I have seen beginning to happen now is the pipe itself is starting to give out because of age and being run in the extreme heat of attics in the Las Vegas valley. Another contributing factor is that the standard pipe size that was used is only one half inch outside diameter (OD), which is not a normal plumbing size. The normal plumbing pipe size is five eighths inch OD. This is a problem because Home Depot and any other hardware stores do not carry a one half inch OD fitting. Believe me, I have looked. You must go to wholesale plumbing supply to get the odd size fittings. It is not a problem for a licensed contractor, but the average homeowner will be driven into a rubber room if they try to repair their own ManaBloc system.
Repairing a ManaBloc system can be a fright for the average person, but if you’re savvy enough, you can install a new one. Older ManaBloc systems tended to develop problems after being in use for a decade or so, but the newer ones last much longer. To begin, read through the instructions and see what kind of tools you’ll need for installation. Gather them all before beginning the installation. Next, make sure you follow every step in the manual for your ManaBloc installation. You’ll need to use specialized fittings if you want to keep your warranty going. Additionally, keep in mind that the flow to your tub will require a larger tube than flows to smaller fixtures like sinks and toilets. Finally, make sure you perform a pressure test before putting up the drywall.
If you have a ManaBloc system and need plumbing work in your Henderson or Las Vegas home, do not touch those little valves. Shut your water off at the sidewalk and call Village Plumbing LLC at 702-460-8682.