View Full Version : Newbie Question: which kind of connection would you recommend

11-24-2008, 06:31 PM
Hi Folks,

I'm a new homeowner on a DIY budget, I'm a girl and don't know much about plumbing but want to learn! A pipe to my 2nd floor bathroom sprung a leak right over the dining room. I shut off the water and replaced the shut-off valves because they didn't completely do the trick, I used compression fittings and was amazed how easy it is.

Now I have to tackle the pipes in the dining room. The compression fittings were easy to install but I've read that you shouldn't put them behind plaster. The clerk at the big box store said to use the Shark Bites, but I'm worried that the o-ring might not last for 50 years. I certainly don't want to ever have to redo the plaster, and I know my kitchen faucet wouldn't last for 50 years. I don't know how to solder but it looks easy from when I've watched my father do it (though he never taught me, and he's dead now!), and I'm ready to learn.

What would you folks recommend? I live in Pittsburgh, so we do see extremely cold temperatures here, though it hasn't recently, it has at times gone down to -40. My house is about 60 years old with all copper pipes. What type of connections would you use in this situation?


11-24-2008, 06:58 PM
Hi Liz,
You are correct this is not an application for a compression fitting as they are for use out in the open only.

Using a Sharkbite is probably your best DITer option as this is probably not a location where you should solder your first joint either. The quarters will be tight, overhead, and the leak if there is one hidden until it costs plenty to fix.

Save the learning to sweat joints for out in the open until you have some degree of proficiency at the task.

Either enlist the aid of another DIYer that knows how to sweat pipe, Hire a plumber, or, use a couple of Sharkbite. Sharkbites are approved for use in concealed areas.

11-24-2008, 07:29 PM
I am some what suspicious of this post. I have a feeling it ain't no girl and there ain't no leak either. :D

11-24-2008, 07:58 PM
I had the same gut feeling myself as I was reading this. It sounds like a test of some kind. ;)

Gary Swart
11-24-2008, 09:31 PM
Well, I give you an answer. I'd use sweat joints. True this isn't the best place to have you first experience, but it can be done if you use care. Now obviously there's more to sweating a copper joint than I can give you here, but there are some basics that I think may help. Tools and materials you will need include a torch, paste flux and a brush, solder, emery cloth, wire pipe cleaners for both the inside of fittings and outside of pipe ends, a heat shield, spray bottle of water, a tubing cutter, and cotton gloves. The technique isn't as difficult as one might think although working in tight places can be a challenge. First rule is the pipes must be completely dry. Even a little water will turn to stream an prevent the solder from flowing. Use the appropriate brush to shine the interior of the fitting and outside of the pipe. Do one joint at a time. The heat shield is used to protect any wood, and the spray bottle puts out any fires that the shield doesn't prevent. (Remember, your water will be turned off) Apply flux to the pipe end with the brush (I use cheap glue brushes) and wipe the brush around inside the fitting. Assemble the joint and you're ready to solder. Unroll some solder and light the torch. Heat is applied to the fitting, never to the solder itself. When the fitting and pipe are hot enough to make the solder flow, remove the heat and run the end of the solder around the seam of the joint. Allow the solder to set without moving the pipe for a couple of minutes, then you can use a damp rag to wipe the burned flux from the joint. Do not use water to cool the joint, it can crack. So, it's clean, flux, heat the joint, apply the solder, wipe. Remember, the pipe will be damn hot, so be careful. Also, molten solder drips on ones arm, neck, or hand burn and burn and burns. Long sleeves help. There are probably 1000 more do's and don'ts, but those are the basic basics.

11-24-2008, 11:05 PM
Thanks Gary, I was going to hire a plumber until a friend of mine told me to do it myself, I know I can do it, I'm just kinda scared because it's my first time, but when I used to watch my dad, I remember thinking, it doesn't look that difficult! Just wish I'd have him teach me more!


11-25-2008, 04:37 AM
Pick up extra fittings and practice before you do the actual repair.
I would actually use the sweat repair myself but was not recommending it because of the inexperience.

Have you had other problems with leaking pipes?

I have one concern that there may be conditions at your house causing the pipes to corrode. When you go to cut the pipe with a pipe cutter it may just crush because the tube is thin. If this happens the degree of difficulty rises and water treatment will probably be needed.

11-25-2008, 04:52 AM
It MAY look easy, but there have been many times when I have been called because someone has been trying to solder a joint all day long. They had finally given up and called a plumber. It usually takes about 30 seconds once I get there to make the connection. You have told us NOTHING about where the leak is, or why it happened. If that person had told you that they thought you could repair your car's engine, would you try that also?