PEX Piping System Makes Plumbing Tiny Homes Easier

Builder says the flexibility of the Viega system helps a lot given the limited space available in a tiny house design

PEX Piping System Makes Plumbing Tiny Homes Easier

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It started with a bottle opener. 

When Mike Cheatham was at a trade show a couple of years ago, he stumbled upon the Viega booth, where he used a press tool to create a bottle opener with a piece of Viega PureFlow PEX pipe. He was hooked. 

“I was amazed at how easy it [making the press connection] was and started to think about how easy it would be for us in the labor we were doing,” Cheatham says. “It wasn’t like sweating copper or anything like that, and the more I looked at PEX, I knew it was something I wanted us to use in our homes. When I looked at the competitors out there, I wasn’t crazy about them. We picked Viega.” 

Cheatham and his brother Jonathan own Movable Roots of Melbourne, Florida, which builds high-end custom tiny homes. All of them include Viega PureFlow products for the water supply. 

“We bought the Milwaukee tool and jaws and use both the 3/4-inch and 1/2-inch fittings. We’ve also started using Viega parts, like the washer and dryer box, with the press system and the ice-maker line for the fridge,” Cheatham says. “Each build depends on what kind of customization people want, but we plumb in the water heaters and everything with Viega.”

“There’s a lot more linear feet of PEX in a tiny home than most people think,” Cheatham says. “Plus we take advantage of the flexibility of PEX. We run a lot of supply lines in the belly of the trailer itself, not a lot in the walls, so using the bends and things, we want as few connections as possible down inside the trailer.”

In 2018, Movable Roots built eight tiny houses and was on track to complete the same number in 2019. The company’s creations are everywhere, from California to Texas to Montana. One of its builds was featured on the TV show Tiny House Nation.  

There are a lot of challenges that come with designing tiny homes.

“It was a crazy learning curve in the beginning,” Cheatham says. “When we were building a normal 2,000-square-foot home, the plumbing or electrical stack of something in the rough stage could be shifted 3 to 12 inches and it wouldn’t affect anything negatively. In a tiny house, if I have to shift something a quarter of an inch, it might mean the couch doesn’t fit.” 

Cheatham says that the flexibility of Viega’s PureFlow tubing and fittings helps a lot. Because exterior walls might be only 3 1/2 inches thick, there is limited space for things like supply lines. PureFlow fits.

“The system itself is very user-friendly,” Cheatham says. “We had a plumber friend who had never used it, but had used other systems. We’ve asked him in to help a few times when we got bogged down in difficult scenarios, and he loves [Viega]. He raves about the ease of use of it.” 


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