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Thread: Outdoor fixture repair

  1. #1

    Default Outdoor fixture repair

    I have an outdoor frost proof fixture. It was leaking. The valve could not be removed because the pipe of the fixture was cavitated, I guess from abuse. My dad tried to remove it with a pipe wrench. It moved about 1/4 turn but felt like it was twisting instead of breaking loose. I used a hammer to knock it the rest of the way loose (should have started this way). When it came out, so did a "pigtail" of twisted copper pipe on the other end of the completely frozen/corroded threaded fitting....

    Inside, the pipe is teed off a pipe shared with the toilet valve. I cut into the drywall and sweated the broken piece out of the tee. Now I'm stuck. I can't seem to get the new pipe into the tee. The old pipe will go in if I beat on it. I guess the tee end is slightly warped now. Unfortunately, I don't have room to beat on the new pipe because I'm behind the toilet and the new pipe extends into the outer wall. Replacing the tee with a new one would involve removing the whole toilet supply pipe.

    What would you all do here? Replacing the tee seems like a lot of trouble but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to re-use the old one, or even if it's possible given the angles I'm stuck with.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-26-2007 at 08:03 PM.

  2. #2

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    Well, I managed to answer my own question. I cut out a big chunk of the drywall and gave the toilet a big bear hug. That way I was able to get an angle to knock the new pipe into the tee. Sweated it and everything looked good. I turned the water back on. There is now a leak at the bottom of the tee (old connection). Oh well. I guess I'll have to cut out the tee. Something tells me you can't just add and remove pipes at a sweat tee without replacing the tee entirely... live and learn. Will I be able to find a replacement tee with longer "stems" for when you had to cut out a previous tee? If so, that will help me avoid the work of having to cut back and couple the pipes.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-26-2007 at 08:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    not that I know of - I think you're stuck putting together an ugly-looking assembly of tee, short bits of pipe, and repair couplings.

    BTW, when you sweat pipe, it's the fitting you have to heat, not the pipe; that means you have to do the three sides of a tee all at the same time.

    Silarly, when you sweat off a pipe, the whole fitting's been loosened... but you know that already. Just saying: remember it, when you put in your new T.


    I hate to kick someone when they're down, but... why didn't you cut the broken pipe, a little ways past the T, and sweat a new pipe onto the end of it?

  4. #4

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    I did heat the fitting not the pipe, but I guess in my mind I thought it would work like electrical soldering, where reflowing the joints I'm not working on as a side effect won't hurt anything (and sometimes even improves the connection). Of course it didn't occur to me that plumbing just might be a different idea.

    I didn't try to couple to the broken pipe because it was twisted off very close to the tee. What was left looked deformed so I figured, installing a new pipe is a better idea. Didn't think the pipe broken off that close meant I'd be getting to install a new tee too!

  5. #5
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    You did what you needed to do.

    Get a new T and 2 couplings W/O stop and you should be good to go.

    Do you have a fire extinguisher or spray bottle of water in case of a fire since your in a wall?
    Last edited by Cass; 06-27-2007 at 04:16 AM.

  6. #6

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    I saved a bucket of water beforehand.

    Now I'm trying to get a clean cut on the supply line. That is hard because it's coming up from the slab and I don't have much room to work. I also just noticed that what I thought was hard water corrosion was actually excess solder all over the pipe from whomever installed the pipe originally . So I have to cut the pipe back even closer to the floor... unless I can get the solder cleaned up.

    The top part of the tee goes to a "stub" pipe. Do I need this? It'd be easier to do an elbow instead... but I'm not sure if this is meant to hold water for better toilet flushing, or air or something else. Edit: Looks like it's to keep the pipes from banging... guess I'll put it back the way it was.

    Edit: I am thinking maybe instead of a slip coupling I could use a compression fitting on the pipe coming from the slab. Because I don't have much room for error here if the coupling leaks for some reason. But the outdoor fixtire isn't strapped to anything, which could disturb slightly the compression fitting when the fixture is used later. So I don't think this is a good idea.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-27-2007 at 05:34 AM.

  7. #7

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    Well, I can't get the old tee desoldered or the solder cleaned up because I have a water drip. Tried "exercising" the curb valve with fixtures on, but still about 1 drip per second. After thinking about it, I don't want to cut the pipe any closer to the slab because it's too risky. About to call a plumber unless anyone has ideas for getting the water shut off better. I just can't believe what a leaking valve turns into around here. This is not the first time a similar disaster that started with a leaking valve has occurred. I can't wait for the day when the slab pipes start leaking...

  8. #8

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    Can't believe it... ok, so I called the local plumbing supply and their recommendation to stop the drip was a slice of bread, without crust. Um, ok. So I poked this slice of bread through the tee from the top, to plug the supply pipe. It worked... I was able to desolder the tee immediately. I cleaned up the solder, cleaned and fluxed everything, and sweated it all together. Success!

    Then, I cross threaded the fixture into the sweated-on thread adapter, ruining it...

    So now I get to start over. But at least I know what I'm doing now... I think!

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by runderwo

    Then, I cross threaded the fixture into the sweated-on thread adapter, ruining it...
    Ouch!

    That's how it goes, sometimes...

    Congrats on keeping you sense of humour through all this. I think that's probably the most important skill, in these situations; and it can't be taught...



    You seem to be getting there... let us know how it goes.

  10. #10

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    I think maybe I have the wrong idea. I am using a 1/2 inch sweat to 1/2 inch copper female thread adapter and trying to screw the frost free fixture (which is chrome/galvanic, 1/2 comp) into it. I think this is what is ruining the threads because the round nose of the compression fit doesn't want to start into the fip without a fight... I've gone through my second try now and the threads are gone again. What kind of end should I be putting onto the copper pipe?

    Edit: not compression fit, it's tapered threads or whatever you call the rounded nose male fitting.

    Edit: It's a FLARE, sorry. Flare to FIP should be ok, right? I tested that the adapters thread by hand fine, a little fiddly to catch the threads but it's easy to turn once it's on.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-27-2007 at 12:45 PM.

  11. #11

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    Well, I'm going to try a longer piece of copper pipe and a 4 inch sillcock instead of 8 inch, so I can get the threaded fitting into the space between the brick exterior and the interior wall. I hope this will give me enough room to maneuver and start correctly on the threads. Only problem is I'm not sure if the end of the sillcock is supposed to be on the other side of the interior wall, because I think the space between the brick and the wall may not be insulated -- which would defeat the point of a frost free valve.

    I also got a longer 12" sillcock to try, but that will probably force me to use soft copper tube inside, and I seem to remember reading it wasn't a good idea to put soft tube behind walls...

    any ideas?

    Edit: http://www.coloradoenergy.org/procor...f/r-values.htm Looks like 1 layer of brick has an even worst R-value than air, meaning the short sillcock won't do the job. So I guess I'lll have to do the longer one and figure out how to line everything up on the inside.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-27-2007 at 12:51 PM.

  12. #12

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    So with the 12 inch sillcock, from the tee I have about 4 inches within which I need to go "up" a 1/2 inch. It's too short for two 45 degree elbows. I guess what I need is an offset.

    With the flare fitting on the sillcock do I need a special flare union or is the straight flare-FIP connection ok(with thread tape)?

  13. #13
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frenchie

    BTW, when you sweat pipe, it's the fitting you have to heat, not the pipe; that means you have to do the three sides of a tee all at the same time.

    Few years ago I had a big "meaningful" debate with an older licensed guy about that...I agree with you...heats expands the fitting...he swore I was wrong...whatever.
    I also heat the fitting when I solder...flush chases the heat, solder chases the flux into the hub.
    Then I cool the fitting quick to shrink around the pipe with the still soft solder inside. though it does turn the solder dark, it gets dark in a matter of days anyway.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  14. #14

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    My friend told me steam pushes through the solder, so maybe when I had that slow drip, that's what messed up the bottom joint on the tee. Hard to tell when you've got water inside it, so maybe that's why it's the best policy to re-do the fitting from scratch if you have to remove a joint.

    I got a new 12" sillcock that has a 1/2 MIP not flare. It will go all the way through the inner wall. So, now my evil plan to hook this thing up to copper is to use a brass union. I screw the 1/2" copper threads with a short piece of copper pipe onto the sillcock. I then sweat that pipe into the male side of a brass union. I sweat the female side (the side with the short copper coupler) onto a pipe that then goes to the tee.

    Advantages:
    - I'm screwing brass to brass when I turn the sillcock. No thread problems.
    - The copper and chrome may seize, but the brass won't seize, so the next person will be able to separate the union by unscrewing the sillcock. They then install the union on the new sillcock, put sealant on the landing in the union (Since it's the male piece) and screw it right back in. In fact I think this is such a good idea I would loctite the copper threaded fitting to the sillcock if I didn't have to have thread tape there :-)

    Disadvantages:
    - Unions are picky about pipe angle. How perfect do I have to be to get it to seal?
    - Edit: What about the possibility of overtorqueing the union when vertically aligning the downspout of the sillcock?

    What do you think?

    The only other option I could come up with is to have a male copper fitting coming off the tee, and a 1/2" copper coupler between the sillcock and the tee. Screw in the coupler first, which again may/may not seize to the sillcock, and then it's copper fighting copper in the threads, instead of chrome fighting copper. But I couldn't find a female copper threaded coupler, if such a thing even exists.

    Just trying some brainstorming.
    Last edited by runderwo; 06-27-2007 at 05:22 PM.

  15. #15
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by runderwo
    My friend told me steam pushes through the solder, so maybe when I had that slow drip, that's what messed up the bottom joint on the tee. Hard to tell when you've got water inside it, so maybe that's why it's the best policy to re-do the fitting from scratch if you have to remove a joint.

    It does...you can usually tell when the flame has "sparks" in it...the evaporating steam blows lil' particles of solder out of the seam, or you'll see the solder bubbling...better to solder with an open end if there's no way to avoid the water.
    OR...you could try the bread trick.
    Has worked for me numerous times
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

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