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Leaky black iron question

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by maple1, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    So in the process of putting water to my piping, I found two drips that I didn't find when I had it aired up. They are on either end of a 1-1/4 street elbow, just past the shut off valve coming out of my top storage tank. It would have been the first fitting I put on after I got my tanks in place (using Pro Dope), it might have gotten jiggled around somehow when I added more fittings after that - maybe? Not sure why else it's leaking. I'm pretty sure if I take it all apart, I won't be able to get another turn on either side - and it's going to be your typical serious tight space PITA to get it all back apart to do that. I think about 6 unthreadings & cutting the 1-1/4 copper that goes to my boiler supply & putting another union in. One was a drop every 20 seconds or so, the other every 10 or so. I removed a circ to start the take apart process, then decided to pump it up again (think I've got 15psi on it) & take another look. Still dripping, but at around half the frequency. What's the chances of it stopping on it's own? I haven't heated any water up yet, everything is still cold. I thought I was about ready to do that though. :confused:

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Sometimes those things heal themselves up. If the leaks aren't bad, I'd let them go and see what happens. One alternative to taking it all apart if it doesn't stop leaking would be to add a bottle of "boiler stop-leak" to your system, which will set you back about $10. It will work just fine, but that type of behavior is frowned upon by heating system professionals, so I wouldn't go so far as to recommend it. But it is an option that I would consider.
  3. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm leaving it pressured up for a while while doing other things (man the list is long). Anyway, I just looked at it again & the worst one is almost a minute now until it drips. Going to leave it for the afternoon & see what happens.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's not much of a leak. Pretty sure that will take care of itself after a firing or two. Just the crap in the water alone ought to be enough to patch it up, if the expansion and contraction of the threads won't--which they probably will. I forget how many black iron joints leaked when I hooked up my Eko, but they all went away pretty quick without any heroics on my part.
  5. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Same thing, had a couple of small ones. it's the only time I've left anything alone and it fixed itself.:cool:
  6. kopeck

    kopeck Minister of Fire

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    I bet it's more the fitting then how tight you have it.

    Almost all of my leaks were not solved by going tighter, they were all fittings that has some sort of defect. That was before I started really looking at the threads before I used them, what a PITA! The one or two that did just want an extra crank were the copper thread to sweat adapters, I didn't go to crazy cranking them down.

    If it really is at that start I guess I would cut it out and put a union in. I sort of hate unions though, the black irons ones I used felt like Russian Roulette. Of course that was before I smartend up and got and left the Chinese junk and the big box stores and started buying Ward fittings. All the sweat (Copper/brass) union's I've used have been fine.

    Something I've started doing it replacing sections of BL with copper. Is that an option? Just cut out the pipe, replace the fitting, use a couple of thread to sweat adapters and your are good to go.

    K
  7. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I use both Pink Teflon tape, and Gasoila on all threaded connections. Leave it air'd up to 20-25PSI for a long time since you have that big tank in there as a small leak will not show any air pressure drop for at least a week. I air up all the systems I do for a week if I can (depending on the time of year). An old windex spray bottle of soap and water is sprayed on every fitting I can get to as well to find the obvious leaks first and then the long wait time with the air. It's rare that there is not at least one leak with all the threaded connections and soldering copper.

    TS
  8. TheMightyMoe

    TheMightyMoe Minister of Fire

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    Blue monster tape is what I use... If I find a leak, I tighten it if I can. Don't want to go back later... Tape/Sealant WILL stop leaks, but you have to remember, that's all that is stopping the leak.
    On that same note, I've been in your position, heated up the system, and everything worked itself out. Tape/Sealant expands / fills in with heat.
  9. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    I like to find and stop all the leaks before there is any heat involved. I've seen leaks appear years after a boiler has been comissioned. Tape on threads first, then paint spairingly with dope is my policy. I use a cheater pipe on the wrench on anything over 1.25"

    TS
  10. TheMightyMoe

    TheMightyMoe Minister of Fire

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    Amen.
  11. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    Rectorseal Dope first then tape, cheater pipe is unnecessary if your using the proper size pipe wrench. 1.5" and above use a 2' pipe wrench, you really don't have to be crazy tight to have a leak free joint if you prepare your joint properly. Lots of people say tape first then dope, I am the opposite, in fact a good dope then tape is not needed although I always use it.

    As others have said, fire your system and see what happens, small leaks can fix themselves, it will stop while hot for sure, the question is, will it return when things cool down?
  12. CMAG

    CMAG Member

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    I have seen more leaks caused from over tight fittings and when tape is used it is easy to over do it, even crack fittings anyway I have seen heat fix leaks and cause them
    On over 1" I use cord, dope and tape
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm going to leave it as is and try it. If it persists or gets worse, I think I will do as suggested above and cut out the street elbow and replace some stuff with copper. It's a pretty tight place but it'll beat taking all the other stuff apart I would have to otherwise.
  14. Tennman

    Tennman Minister of Fire

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    A few of my Chinese fittings healed, but I accepted a number of weeping joints my first season. This has been discussed in previous posts about the porosity in hardware store grade black iron fittings with "Made in China" cast on them. I had a mixture of the commercial grade fittings I bought from plumbing supply houses who could not afford a bunch of pissed off contractors and fittings I bought at the only place open on Saturday (Chinese junk). I totally redid all my fittings (Made in USA) and joints with high temp Rectorseal (blue as I recall) and pink teflon. Not one leak. Prior to this experience I just could not imagine people making porous plumbing components. Thot I'd repeat my experience since it's been a while since that discussion. In hindsight learning how to solder copper probably would have ended up being easier with certainly tighter joints.... but I'm good now. Best wishes.
  15. TheMightyMoe

    TheMightyMoe Minister of Fire

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    I had a
    Last plumbing project had some made in Mexico copper fittings, they were so bad, they wouldn't even thread. I found that out after I had sweated them to 4 unions for a 4 way mixing valve. Ended up re-threading them myself -_- Lesson learned, fit then sweat. This was also from the "Good" plumbing store up here.
  16. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    Teflon tape, rectorseal, and Chinese fittings didn't work so well for me. The plumbing house sold the same Mueller Chinese fittings that Home Depot carries but sold to me for cash at about 1/2 the price. I've had a few small drips that did stop after I started running the boiler but I noticed a few drips after things cooled down. I maintained about 10 PSI over the summer so that is good. I ran with my top piece of my EKO off last winter because a drip between the top 2" outet and my cheap Mueller Chinese Tee. It would not leak when it was hot but when the boiler burned out and cooled a little it would leak a few drops. I kept a rag wrapped around the outlet pipe to contain the mess and it would dry out when the boiler got hot. I plan to fix that leak for good before I start burning but I remember how much my father in law and I torqued that last 1/2 turn trying to stop a leak orginally. I've even thought about trying to weld that tee to the pipe rather than take it all apart again. I did some additional piping last year and used teflon tape and Megaloc which seemed to work better than Rectorseal. I was even able to disassemble a portion after a few weeks to make a change which was something I thought might not have been possible from what Heaterman had said about Megaloc. I was just tired of leaks and Megaloc does seem better in that regard. If I was to do over again I would stick to the Ward (US made) fittings that can be purchased from Pex supply if you can't find locally. A lot of folks (like Heaterman) swear by Loctite 55 pipe sealing cord and although it has apparently been discontinued but you can still get it from Fastenal. My local store says they still show a couple thousand available so I ordered some to use on my tank connections that I'm working on now. Anyone see a problem welding that 2" Tee to the EKO outlet pipe? It's not like I would ever need to change anything and the Tee would be sufficient for any install. I think I would rather pay a pro to come in an do the job than take that all apart again although my FIL is a pretty good welder.
  17. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    The first thing one should buy when starting a threaded pipe project is a small triangular file and a brass-bristled 'toothbrush'. Male threaded fittings, regardless of nation of origin all seem to be handled with front-end loaders these days. Even better would be male taps and female dies for chasing down all your threads. These get pretty pricey though.

    Hold the threads up against a light wall background and rotate it as you examine the thread silhouette. Look for dings at the crown of the threads. File these down sharp to remove the ding with a sweeping motion along the threads so you don't make a gouge in one spot. Brush the threads out, male and female, before doping or taping and assembling.

    One ding on a male thread will keep the threads from joining tight no matter how long that cheater pipe is.
    Eric Johnson likes this.
  18. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Well, with some heat they stopped leaking. They might start again if they cool to cold again, but that hopefully won't happen for quite a while.

    Unfortunately, I had a 1-1/4 BI union that began to seep with some heat - that was the thing I was almost expecting a leak at. I'll have to take the wrenches to that again, although I gave it about all I had when I tightened it the first time. More unfortunately, I had a sweat leak show on the load return line that is going to be a real hard thing to get at with a hot torch & not burn the place down - that's this evenings task.
    TheMightyMoe likes this.

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