What Is a Plumbing Manifold?

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    Indoor plumbing is one of the most significant advantages of living in the current era. With the advent of plumbing, one no longer needed to trek outdoors to a frigid outhouse on cold nights or use a smelly chamberpot to relieve oneself.

    Unless they work in the plumbing industry, most people don’t think about what happens to their wastewater once they flush. But the simple act of pushing that lever actually hinges on a complex plumbing system that exists under our feet.

    The labyrinth of drains, pipes, water flow, and tanks that make up a plumbing system can seem intimidating and confusing to the layperson. Plumbing involves its own vocabulary of terms with which most people are unfamiliar. One of those terms is “plumbing manifold.”

    So what is a plumbing manifold?

    What Is a Plumbing Manifold?

    A plumbing manifold is a portion of pipe featuring built-in ports that control the distribution of water. Manifold systems are standard in newer homes because they reduce costs and save energy.

    These systems generally use PEX manifolds. PEX pipe and tubing is a form of plastic that is more flexible than other materials commonly used for tubing, such as copper, so PEX requires fewer fittings. This flexibility, in turn, reduces installation and labor costs.

    PEX also conducts heat exceptionally well, making it ideal for transporting hot water.

    Types of Plumbing Systems

    You can follow several designs when creating a plumbing system. The type of design used for a specific system sometimes depends on the layout of the building it serves and the material from which the pipes are made.

    For instance, PEX plumbing systems often follow one of three designs: 

    • Trunk and Branch – this system involves one large central pipe with smaller pipes that branch off to each fixture.
    • Home-run – this system features lines leading to each fixture that feed directly into the main manifold.
    • Remote Manifold – this system uses two manifolds, one for hot water and one for cold water, each with pipes leading to each fixture.

    What Are the Advantages of a Plumbing Manifold?

    Using a plumbing manifold system provides several advantages:

    • Plumbing manifold systems involve a comparatively simple system design.
    • The number of fittings required is drastically reduced in a manifold system, thanks to PEX as piping material.
    • The manifold system delivers hot water more quickly than other systems.
    • With this system, it is possible to include shutoff controls centrally located at the manifold.
    • These systems reduce the risk of drops in water pressure.
    • The PEX piping used in manifold systems is more energy-efficient than other commonly used materials.
    • The PEX piping in these systems is also more environmentally friendly than most alternative materials.

    Our Final Say

    While plumbing systems may seem complex and difficult to understand to most laypeople, with a bit of study, it is easy to see that manifold systems provide a significant number of advantages over other plumbing layouts. These advantages are partly due to the system’s design and partly due to the use of PEX piping.

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