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Thread: Tricky Replacement of Leaky Copper Pipe- Need Suggestions!

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member syd's Avatar
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    Default Tricky Replacement of Leaky Copper Pipe- Need Suggestions!

    I've been planning on replacing a section of copper pipe that has a very small slow leak.
    It has a constant drop of moisture on it, but only "drips" every half hour or so, if that. As you can see from
    the pics it is corroded. The problem is, it's in a tricky spot, right at the joint with several other joints
    located nearby. I'm trying to figure out how to replace this without changing out more
    pipe (and all those joints) than I need to. Anybody have a simple solution? Even if I replace the
    T-Joint I think I'll have to cut the end off that corroded pipe. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Notes:
    -This is in my concrete sump-pump room and isn't causing damage.
    -Been this way since I bought the house 3 months ago.
    -On the cold, unsoftened water line.
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  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Is the pipe coming out of that T going to an outside hose bib? If so, it looks like it is threaded on. You could remove the hose bib which would loosen up that arm. If there's any leaway to the right, you could then unsolder that joint on the left, the either clean it up and resolder, or pull that T out of there and replace. If you can't slide the pipe to the right, then you'll need to cut it. you can put it back together with a repair coupling. this looks like a fitting that you'd use to connect two pieces of pipe together, but omits the stop in the center. You slide it on one side, then bring the two ends together, then slide the fitting so it is evenly over those two ends and solder it. If you can free up that arm, then you'd need another repair coupling and cut it off, then repair.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member csr0831's Avatar
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    I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but if the leak is a pin hole and appears to be leaking around the joint, you could try this....take a nail, put the point right on the pin hole and give it a light, but sharp rap with a hammer. Sometiems that will close the hole up and you may never have trouble with it again. I only suggest this because the tee is going to be a bit of a pain to get out. If it doesn't work the first time or two, I would go with the suggestion above. My dad showed me how to do that and lots of the time it doesn't work....but.....there is a chance it will. Good luck!

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member syd's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses! Yes, the T is attached to an outside hose, so I may be able to unscrew it and have more wiggle room. I think I'll
    probably have to replace the T, not sure how well I'd be able to clean it up and I want the seal to be tight. Do you think it's feasible to unsolder the
    left joint, the "top" of the T and the right, stick in a new length of pipe and T joint and seal it back up? Is that the simplest solution?

    As for the nail idea, right now the area is so corroded I can't really make out how big the hole is, kind of afraid that once I start cleaning the gunk off
    it's gonna get worse and I'll need to replace it anyway. Going for a pre-emptive strike in this case.

  5. #5
    One who lurks Basement_Lurker's Avatar
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    No offense, but doing what you propose is risky as you will heat up nearby joints and potentially weaken them. Be careful with heat and vibration and keep a bucket of water nearby!
    Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they believe me? -Jack Handy


    www.blackbirdkitchenandbath.com

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you can make the leg going to the outside free AND there's nothing to prevent you from sliding the pipe to the right, you should be able to unsolder the pipe from the T. Once you have either the left or right free, you could remove the T and put in a new one. A rag wiped across the joint once molton will give you a better idea of the state of the T. I'd probably have a new one before I tried to clean up the old one unless I only had to clean it up and resolder one side. But, getting enough solder off of the inside so you could clean it and then add flux is a little hard. That leak has probably left some corrosion on the inside, and it all needs to come out or you won't get a good solder joint. It doesn't take much.

    When you start to put it back together, make sure to leave the hose bib open - this will allow a place for the super heated air to go rather than punching a pinhole through the solder joint. The last joint must have a relief to the outside to relieve air and maybe a little steam, or it is likely to end up a bad joint.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP MACPLUMB 777's Avatar
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    with out knowing your level of expertise i would suggest cutting it out and going back with shark bite tee and fittings to replace as needed so you don't have undue heating or
    moving the pipe around

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  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Tapping it with the point of a nail will eliminate the drip, because then you will have a "stream". Cut the pipe to the right of the tee. Take out the tee and leaking pipe. Install a new tee and pieces of copper tubing, then use a "slip coupling" over the point where you made your cut to connect the two pieces back together. With that much corrosion, it it unlikely you would be able to unsolder the tee to get it off.

  9. #9
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Obviously, this is in a spot you don't want to take any chances with a leak....EVER.

    Is seems 4 cuts...two on the vertical pipes, and one each at the extreme left and right of the photo, on the horizontal, would take out the whole assembly. Rebuild it on the bench, and put it back in with no-stop couplings.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    That adds at least eight more joints to solder, any one of which could leak if not done properly.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    you could cut the whole thing out and put pex back in with gatorbite fittings
    Now that's going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
    Last edited by Terry; 03-31-2010 at 09:27 AM.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member syd's Avatar
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    Some very interesting ideas, thanks!
    I'm thinking I'll just remove and replace the T and pipe. Less cutting, less soldering
    seems like the best way to go.

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