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Thread: Should 1/2" copper street ell be loose fitting?

  1. #1
    DIY Member DavidSeon's Avatar
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    Default Should 1/2" copper street ell be loose fitting?

    To avoid notching a stud I wanted to make a quick 90 downturn out of a shower valve cold inlet. I assumed I could use the male end of a 1/2" street elbow to keep the pipe away from the stud.

    But the male end of the Nibco ell I picked up at Lowe's is a pretty loose fit into the Moentrol inlet as well as other female fittings I tried. It looks like solder would fill it, but all the other connections I've made have been a pretty tight twist fit.

    Is this normal for st ells or am I trying to use the wrong fitting?

    Thanks, Dave
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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    It might be that the machined brass socket on the valve is more accurately round, and therefore "looser" than your typical
    commodity stamped copper fitting. But, yeah, I think NIBCO male street fitting ends might be on the smaller end of the
    acceptable range.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Not all fittings are created equal...some are crap. Can't make a judgement on the ones you have, but the big box stores tend to buy the low-price bidder's product and there's often a reason why they're low cost.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    A "sweat joint" DEPENDS on a very specific tolerance between the fitting and the socket. IF it is too loose, (we had "feeler gauges" in the "old days" to judge it), the solder will NOT be attracted into the gap and you will wind up with a weak joint. You can "fill" a vertical joint with solder, but not an upside down or horizontal one.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Member DavidSeon's Avatar
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    Ok, picked up a Mueller street ell at a plumbing supply house, it fit the same as the Nibco. It soldered fine so I guess it was ok, just wasn't sure since it wasn't as snug as a regular pipe to valve connection.

    Thanks for the help.
    Old Retired Computer Programmer
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    DIY Member petrie's Avatar
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    I just encountered the same exact problem. Doing the same exact plumbing project. Despite the sloppy fit I soldered the street elbow in and no leak, although it's only been two days since I soldered it.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; no leak, although it's only been two days since I soldered it.

    Not a good assumption. I have had 20 year old solder joint "come apart" because they were not soldered correctly. It just takes the right conditions to make them fail. In one case it was a can of peas dropped on the pipe and the pipe popped out of the elbow.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member BobL43's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; no leak, although it's only been two days since I soldered it.

    Not a good assumption. I have had 20 year old solder joint "come apart" because they were not soldered correctly. It just takes the right conditions to make them fail. In one case it was a can of peas dropped on the pipe and the pipe popped out of the elbow.
    Canned peas should be illegal if they can do damage like that
    I am definitely not a pro plumber, but I am a pro crastinator

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    DIY Member petrie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    quote; no leak, although it's only been two days since I soldered it.

    Not a good assumption. I have had 20 year old solder joint "come apart" because they were not soldered correctly. It just takes the right conditions to make them fail. In one case it was a can of peas dropped on the pipe and the pipe popped out of the elbow.
    The valve definetly wasn't the problem as a 1/2 pipe fit like it should. I had several street elbows and they all fit loose. If it fails I guess I'll have to remove the elbow, clean up the valve, and either find a street elbow that fits, or move plumbing in basement so hot water line comes through floor further over.


    For this project Originally I was going to just move the tub spout outlet up on the existing assembly, but the new tub was to high so I was going to just raise up the whole valve assembly. But then the valve had to be moved over two inches to line up with the drain overflow. By then they wanted a new valve, and of course they had to buy one that was twice as wide as the original.....no good deed goes unpunished.

  10. #10
    DIY Member petrie's Avatar
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    Well I went back up to ******* to check the fit of the Nibco street elbows in the 1/2 ball and gate valves they have and of the ones I checked 1/2 were as wobbly as the one I put in, and some were better, but not real tight. I bought one of the tighter fitting ones. Stopped at another store to check a differnt brand. They fit real nice inside the ball valves they had. The nibco one I bought at the other store even fit really nice in their valve.

    So, I don't know if I just got a street elbow on the small end of tolerance

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