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Thread: "Notching" studs vs. holes in studs for copper pipe?

  1. #1
    DIY Member ironspider's Avatar
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    Default "Notching" studs vs. holes in studs for copper pipe?

    Greetings all,

    My wife and I are working on a basement remodel and we are planning to add a wetbar up against a wall. Now this wall has both hot and cold supply lines running behind it with joints that are readily accessible. So my plan is going to be to replace those joints with a T joint and then just take the new end of the T to the bar. Simple enough.

    My question though is do we want to run these new copper pipes through the studs by way of a bored hole? or by "notching" the 2x4s? Just about every setup I've seen (and, granted, this is mostly from bathroom plumbing work) has the 2x4s "notched" with the pipes in the notch. Is there a reason for this? Or would it be better to run the pipe through a simple drilled hole in the stud (like you would do for running electrical cable through joists0?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Nuclear Engineer nukeman's Avatar
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    I'm not a plumber, but notches are more common because is is nearly impossible to 'thread' copper pipe through holes. You would have to make many cuts on the copper and use lots of couplers to get it to work. This is one reason that some people like PEX. With PEX, you can thread it much like you would electrical or other cables.

    If you notch, remember the nail protector plates.

  3. #3
    Plumber krow's Avatar
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    Notching is not the best of solutions, unless you absolutely have to. Notching leaves you exposed to any nail , screw to be drilled into the pipe. Drilling in the middle or as close to the middle of a 2x4 ensures that the 1 1/4 drywall screw/nail will not penetrate, especially if somebody else is drywalling for you. Notching will also weaken the 2x4, making its strenght as little as a 2x2.

    Copper pipe tubing is pretty flexible when fishing it through the 2x4's as long as the holes line up within reason. The tubing doesn't have to be perfectly straight, but you do not want to kink it either. You should be able to fish 12' lengths with a little bit of pre planning.
    I know I do.

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    Electrical engineer abdixonga's Avatar
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    I'm new to the forums as of 5 minutes ago and also am not a plumber. I am finishing my basement, though, and just tried pushing 3/4" copper pipe through 1" holes drilled for wire routing. On 16" centers, it's nearly impossible because of the aspect ratio. My 2006 IRC code book shows 40% notch depth and 60% hole diameter limits, so you could drill up to a 2.1" hole for your 2x4 studs. I would expect you to have to do a bit of bending to make it work. 1/2" or 3/4" copper? Have you ruled out CPVC or PEX? I rerouted my water heater TPR line yesterday using CPVC with 1 3/8" diameter holes drilled in floor joists. The 3/4" CPVC had enough flex to handle the first few holes bending/aligning.

    -Adam

  5. #5
    Plumber krow's Avatar
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    3/4 copper tubing is a different ball game . A lot less flex in the tubing. Very unlikely to be pushed through 2x4's at 16" centres without damaging its intergrity.

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    Jack of all trades,, master of none SoInBoy's Avatar
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    I've pushed 3/4" copper pipe through a 2x4 wall with very little problem using a 1" drill bit... what I did was start with the first stud. drill the hole, and push the copper pipe through it until it hits the next stud. spend some time making sure it's level and in line with the wall. make a mark around it with a pencil. find the center and drill. repeat.. I followed this process with a 17' wall.. went right through.. take your time, though. don't get in a hurry..

    you can't go wrong with copper...
    Gary

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I use a 1-3/8" drill bit for installing water lines. They make plastic pipe insulators that are 1-3/8" OD and work with 5/8" OD pipe, 7/8" OD pipe and 1-1/8" pipe.
    One size hole, then if I need to change a pipe size, I'm not constricted.

    Last edited by Terry; 12-08-2013 at 09:24 AM.

  8. #8
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Ja, it's magnitudes easier if you go with oversized holes. Easier yet if the studs are bare on both sides and there is no blocking so you can flex the first stud out and the one before it in.

    You never want copper pipe to be tight in the holes otherwise it will make noises as it expands and contracts.

  9. #9
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Anyway, if you must notch, they do make special plates that are more than just nail guards and actually restore the strength.


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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; I rerouted my water heater TPR line yesterday using CPVC

    Codewise, CPVC is "undersized" for a 3/4" T&P valve discharge. Those saddle plates are for use on a bearing wall. I have notched hundreds of walls but have only needed the "saddles" when I drilled through a bearing wall for a 2" pipe, and that was the ONE AND ONLY time I have used them in 60+ years.
    Last edited by hj; 12-08-2013 at 07:06 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  11. #11
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Those saddle plates are for use on a bearing wall...
    Not just for load bearing walls... also for tiled walls where deflection is a concern. I am not saying you HAVE TO use them, just that they are available if you WANT TO use them. I have also used 2x6 studs for wet walls.

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