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Help - Water main leaking!

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by cbrodsky, Oct 19, 2007.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    GVA is right--you've got water in the piping, making it impossible to get the fitting hot enough to solder correctly. Is there a way to drain the water off above/below the fitting? If you have a leaky valve, then you might have to turn the water off at the main shutoff and wait for it to drain out. A Sharkbite is probably not a bad solution if you can't get it dry. And if it's domestic water, you can always try the old lump of bread trick.

    But in any event, you have to take the fitting off and clean/flux everything down again before you try to resolder. If any of your solder stuck, you might need to cut it out. That's usually the easiest approach.

    Starting over from scratch--happens to me all the time. Kind of like restacking wood when the pile falls over. That happened to me yesterday.

    As to the reason for the failure--who knows? Pipes crack and leak over time. They seem to be making the walls thinner these days, so a little abuse with a pipe wrench is all it takes. I don't know if it's the right way to do it, but I always try to put the wrench on the fittings, not the pipe. And I managed to crack a fitting or two on my last project. Be especially careful with brass valves.

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  2. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    Round 2 was a success! Sure enough, apparently a bunch more water had gotten into the bottom of that elbow after I put the coupling on that I was attempting to solder.

    I assembled the NPT fitting and elbow to a straight pipe section still short enough to rotate around to thread it in. Then I used a shark-bite slip coupling to close it up - worked great!

    A couple things I learned:

    1. HD sells copper in short lengths up to 3/4 - ironically, the more expensive 1" copper is only in 10 ft lengths. Lowes now carries copper in 5 foot and 2 foot lengths all the way up through 1". Getting a two foot length saved me $25 over the 10 footer.

    2. Shark bite fittings are the way to go whenever there is risk of water in the final connections or you may ever need to disassemble. Second time I've used them. They are pricey - $14 vs. $3 for a solder coupling. But had I done that in the first place yesterday for the final reattachment, I would have saved $10 on a new 1" street elbow & NPT fitting and $10 on a new 2-foot piece of 1" copper, not to mention an extra hour of my time plus a trip to HD and Lowes. Glad Eric made me aware of them on another thread.

    3. Holy cow are plumbers expensive around here. I actually considered it yesterday to finish the coupling up - was quoted $75 to show up, and then $162.50/hr on top of that unless I wanted to wait until Monday at which it drops to a mere $90/hour on top of the $75 fee. 1 hour minimum no matter how long it took, which is kind of funny because I thought that's what the $75 covers - getting out to your place. Throw in sales tax and marked up fitting prices and you're looking at $300 for what is likely a 15-30 min job.

    -Colin

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  3. brownie

    brownie New Member

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    YUP!!! can make ALOT of money in the water business. The pipe wrench did make that crack. A pipe wrench uses pressure to grip the pipe. Use the smallest pipe wrench that will work. OK for Galv. not so good for brass. Brass to copper no problem, do it all the time.
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    So your outage was a day? Not too bad. :)
    As I've said before, I've had the same travails with sweating pipe, even on totally dry stuff.
    In the old days, the lead-containing stuff was really easy.
    I said to myself that I would practice, but after I hired the plumber to do the job when I was out of town, i haven't, but I should. :)
  5. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    The worst thing about all of this is that I'm doing all this to clean up the "professional" who installed this in the first place when the house was built - which is exactly why I was reluctant to pay another one $300 to re-do it.

    -Coin
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Glad it worked out for you, Colin. Nice looking work.
  7. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Shark Bites are the sheet man. I used em & lovem. Time & aggravation saved is well worthy the extra cost.
    Congrats on a repair well done, and money saved.
  8. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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  9. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    At risk "of suffering the wrath of 'WEB'..." I'll be somewhat reserved in my response...

    Made in China??? Yeah 98% of the problem... Not to say everything from China is "junk" but how much "junk" to you have to deal with before "it's all junk"...

    Regardless of where or who made that nipple...it was junk before it left the factory.

    I'm sure if you boxed it up and mailed it off to either ASTM, any of the trade organizations, or even a company like WATTS... a little metalurgical testing would reveal the "mix of metals" to make the brass are way off the mark...

    Look at the discoloration on the side of that nipple... that brass was junk...was way too brittle....
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