I have five 3/4 copper water lines coming into my mechanicals room along the ceiling - so they are nicely lined up in a horizontal plane, parallel to the plane of the ceiling.

However, our manifolds and valves, etc., are all on unistrut which are on the wall.

So these copper lines need to change planes from running horizontal on the ceiling to running vertically on the wall.

The obvious way to do this is by adding 2+ welds to each line and reducing flow/psi with 2+ 90 elbows on each line. This will work.

However, are there nicer, more elegant ways to change the plane of a group of copper pipes ?

Another thought I had was to terminate them all with sharkbite couplers and put in pex "leaders" to connect the pipes coming in onto the manifold wall ... that would be a very nice, wide sweep for the water and we could cut them all exactly the right length and maybe bundle them or something ...

Again, I am wondering: is there a "right" way to do this that stays all copper and doesn't jig-jag it through a bunch of 90s (and extra welds) ?


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    2 45s will have less impact on flow than 2 90s. Solder joints, not welds, unless you have very funny piping and a tig welder. You can also change to soft copper tubing and bend it. – Ecnerwal Dec 5 '19 at 22:07
  • I would probably bend the vertical tubes/pipes 90° and solder in a straight coupling. The ~4" radius of the bend shouldn't restrict anywhere near what a 90° Tee would. Here are some manual pipe benders that handle 3/4" (19mm). You can probably rent one if the price is prohibitive. A flaring tool could reduce the solder joints by half. – user109695 Dec 5 '19 at 22:21
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    Did you price sharkbites after coming up with that plan? – JPhi1618 Dec 5 '19 at 22:22
  • There are 'long turn' i.e. large radius 90 degree elbows, but they are many times the price of regular elbows - as are the sharkbite adapters. Bending soft tubing is probably the most elegant. – Phil G Dec 5 '19 at 22:52
  • What are you doing that requires such high flow? Are any of these hot water lines? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 5 '19 at 22:54

I think the average plumber would use straight pipe with 90° elbows and call it a day. "Right" to the plumber is whatever is good enough to do the job adequately, safely, and reliably. To do more takes too much labor (time). The flow restriction in a residential setting should be immaterial -- and if it weren't, they'd increase the pipe size rather than hand crafting sweeps. That said, if you want to make hand crafted sweeps for aesthetics and optimal flow, there's nothing wrong with that.

PEX is an easy way to do it, although PEX tube does have its own ideas about where it wants to bend. You'd have to ensure you have enough space to respect the minimum bend radius (somewhere in the vicinity of 5", but it varies among products and manufacturers). You may need to use molded bend supports, clips, etc. Also, the cost of push-on fittings like Sharkbite will add up. Consider using sweat adapters instead: solder the adapter to the copper pipe, then after it's cool the PEX can be attached on the barb.

Bent copper pipe would look neat. I've never seen it done, but that's probably only because it's not commercially reasonable (ie cost effective) for professionals to do it that way.

  • Since bendable type K pipe has a much heavier wall than type M, it's substantially more expensive, so unless you're going to add joints to only use it where you want to put in bends, it'll soon add up, in addition to the extra labor. I recently did some copper plumbing after a 15 year gap, and was surprised at how expensive a job had become. Next job was PEX. I think I'll be staying with that from now on. – Phil G Dec 5 '19 at 23:03
  • What about NSF 61 potable water approved stainless flex lines - like you use for washing machine ? They don't cost much and there are only five of them needed ... and that would be a nice, clean, flex connection from one bunch of pipes to the next. I am thinking about this and like this idea because it also adds some earthquake breakage resistance as the pipes from one section of the house might shift relative to the pipes in the mechanicals room and break a soldered joint ... – user227963 Dec 5 '19 at 23:11
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    An appliance hookup hose isn't expected to last for decades the way permanent piping is -- some recommend replacing them as often as every 3-5 years. I have to imagine there would be some building code barring their use in this way. Also, consider the inside diameter of the hose -- its flow restriction may be even worse than that of the 90° elbows. – Greg Hill Dec 6 '19 at 0:17
  • @GregHill Thank you - yes, certainly the home depot ones are not to be depended on like that but a cursory review has shown that there are high quality versions of these flexible cables and also ones available with interior diameters of either .72 or .75 inches ... I also see that there are things called "seismic loops" that are basically braided flexible cables put in for the purpose of letting pipes move relative to one another in an earthquake - so if I can find the right flexible leader hookups I can potentially gain some seismic resiliency as well ... – user227963 Dec 7 '19 at 1:54

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