PEX vs The Rat
I started using PEX piping in the early nineties and have long heard the rumor that rodents can chew through it. I've never actually seen a photo or known anybody with first-hand experience of this. To me, it had attained urban legend status, or perhaps my mind is from Missouri. So, imagine my surprise at seeing this. It's like staring into the eyes of a unicorn!
No doubt others have run across this many times, but for those who wondered about the myth, here's proof. You can see the stream of water leaving from the right side of the tube. This is a cold supply to a toilet and is half inch tube. Clearly the tube got chewed on a while ago as the wood around it has a lot of rot. Also the discoloration on the tube suggests it has been a highway for rodents. It had been wet for so long that the moisture had worked its way up right through the hardwood flooring and into the sheetrock wall.
This will be a job to fix with so much wood damage. Then there are the water bills. It makes me think rodent exclusion work is worth doing! The only plus is that I’ll keep that little piece of tube with the hole in it to use as a teaching tool for those who want to learn more about the nuances of plumbing. With this house, we’ll chase out the rats, then put up barriers to keep them out. That’s the best protection for PEX. In other situations, it can make sense to put the PEX in a conduit, like the grey PVC conduit used for electrical work, to keep rodents and their sharp little teeth at bay.
Ideally homes wouldn’t have places in them for rodents to call their own. Crawl spaces and attics don’t do much to make a home more livable, but they sure do invite critters! With some planning, it isn’t difficult to design a home so these unused spaces never get built, yet the function they give, access to mechanical and electrical systems, is still taken care of. That’s what I tried to do building my own house and so far the biggest invader has been ants. I found where they were getting in and caulked that, so no more ants! Actually one time a rat did get in. He had chewed through a plastic floor grate, so I went to metal.
Years ago somebody came up with the phrase, “Rust never sleeps.” No doubt rodents do sleep, but they probably take shifts, “working” on our houses.
Looking back over my working life of 50+ years, it seems clear that self sufficiency has always been the best way for me to be useful. Now, mix in a strong interest in water in its many forms and the wide world of animals and you'll know what's important to me.