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Thread: Tub spout -- broken pipe

  1. #1

    Default Tub spout -- broken pipe

    Hi all... The goal was to remove an old tub spout and replace it with a new one.

    Well, when I was unscrewing the old spout, what I was actually doing was twisting and torqueing the copper pipe about 3 inches inside the wall.

    When it broke loose, I now have a tub spout in my hand, still attached to a short length of copper pipe (is this a "nipple"?).

    Any idea of how I can proceed? Is it possible to replace the pipe that the tub spout normally screws on to?

    Thanks for any advice you can provide!
    Adman

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Unfortunately , there is every liklehood that the copper stub out is soldered to an elbow inside the wall. You will need access into the wall, either from the front through the tiles, or preferably through the back side of the wall if that is accessible.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    If the pipe that came out broke loose at the fitting it was sweated into, there is a chance you could clean out the fitting with a wire fitting brush and sweat the pipe back on by applying heat to the pipe. You'd need clearance around the pipe to get the solder wire in to the fitting.

    But I have to say that if the sweat connection broke loose from twisting, it was not a good connection to begin with, and the connection on the other side of the elbow is probably no better.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo
    Unfortunately , there is every liklehood that the copper stub out is soldered to an elbow inside the wall. You will need access into the wall, either from the front through the tiles, or preferably through the back side of the wall if that is accessible.
    Hi Jimbo... I'm beginning to get this impression as well.

    I tried using a removal tool (that grips the pipe from the inside) to remove the leftover piece from inside the wall, but the small fitting seems to be too small, and the medium fitting seems to be too big.

    Looking at the pipe that is still attached to the tub spout, I can see that there is some sort of soldered connection inside the length of the tub spout. For the life of me, I can't remove the actual spout from that short length of pipe.

    I have a feeling I'm outgunned here. If anyone can reccomend a good, honest, friendly plumber in the North San Diego county area, maybe email me at aspragg@yahoo.com? Thanks for your replies.

    Adman

  5. #5

  6. #6

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    Adman...you must be one strong guy

    I'm not a plumber...but maybe a plumber will chime in. Is it possible to touch the remains of the copper pipe through the tile hole and heat it in such a way so you can pull out the remaining copper line from the fitting? (then wire brush the fitting, clean and flux)

    I could see if you could do that...then place a clean copper pipe through the hole...heat her up...then feed a line of solder in the gap between the pipe and the tiled opening...

  7. #7
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    You're looking at probably a $300 repair on a sunday evening.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Nakamura
    Adman...you must be one strong guy
    It may appear so, but really, I'm not! I never felt like I was applying enough force to come close to ripping through copper pipe.... But yet, here we are.

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    It may be possible to clean up the elbow and replace the nipple with a new one, however it's not an easy task to get the inside of a fitting cleared of solder enough for a new pipe to fit into even in ideal conditions. If you try to heat the solder in the old fitting so the new piece will slip in, chances are pretty good you'll burn the flux off and solder won't flow into the joint. You'd be better off in the long run to access the area so you can work on in with at least some room to work and replace the old used fittings with new.

  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Can you get access from behind? Hopefully, it backs up to a closet, but even if it's just painted drywall, that's the approach you'll want to take.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TedL
    Can you get access from behind? Hopefully, it backs up to a closet, but even if it's just painted drywall, that's the approach you'll want to take.
    Unfortunately not (maybe).

    The wall behind it is a wall with a full floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall mirror mounted on it. It must be glued on, or something, since I don't see any brackets that could be easily unscrewed for removing it.

    Another question: IF we have to go in through the tile side, can the tile squares be saved and re-used? Or does this mean finding matching tile, OR retiling the whole tub?

    Thanks for all your responses so far!
    Adman

  12. #12

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    Adman...maybe it's time to get a quote on replacing the mirror

    As I said before I'm not a plumber and as a landlord I have done many 'creative' repairs...something I'd never try or do for my own home.

    First I'd try the heat and attempt to clean out the elbow...and if that didn't work...

    Next..if I didn't plan on replacing the entire shower surrond in a remodel I'd get price quotes for replacing the mirror.

    If it were for a rental...I'd take a Drimmel tool to the grout lines and remove the required tiles (which is more than likely going to crack) and cut threw to the vertical pipe thingie between the value and the elbow of the spout. Cut then splice a little vertical pipe thingie with the elbow and nipple...and do some green board, thin set magic. Again...something I wouldn't do on my tiled shower...

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Aparently you didn't have the mirror installed. I'd check with a glass place that does that kind of work to see if there are non-destructive ways to R&R the mirror.

    If you remove the grout and are careful not to crack tiles, they can generally be removed, cleaned up and replaced. Paint remover will generally get off any adhesive, if that's what was used. Thinset can usually be scraped off.

    You don't want grout lines to line up with wall surface patch lines.

    Don't use greenboard unless that's what's already there, in which case there's no point in making a patch better than the surrounding 60 ft. sq. Use wonderboard, hardibacker or other CBU.

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default spout

    You have the worst situation, because there is no way to remove the broken pipe of tubing from the elbow without having access to that elbow it is soldered into. Even if you could heat it hot enough without opening the wall, you would probably start a fire inside the wall and possibly burn the house down.

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