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Thread: Split pipe in a tight spot

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member ZE496's Avatar
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    Default Split pipe in a tight spot

    I have a kitchen drain pipe that has a split in it. I took some siding off the exterior so the plumbing would be easier to access.

    As you can see, the pipe runs through a hole in a set of 4 studs. The split in the pipe is right at the elbow and down to almost where it enters the set of 4 studs. I can cut the pipe out. But given the pipe's length, I don't think I can fit a new length of pipe inbetween the 4 set studs and the next stud over. As you might also be able to see, there's a supply pipe on the elbow side of the stud set. I really don't want to notch the set of 4 studs and patch in a piece of wood after the pipe is replaced. I'm at a loss as to how to proceed. Any advice would be much appreciated!


  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If the water supply needs to be moved, that's just one more step.
    You take as many steps as the job requires. It's much better to remove and replace plumbing then it is to R&R wood structure.

    If you convert to PVC or ABS, Mission makes a nice shielded coupling that converts between the copper and plastic sizes and holds the pipe ends in perfect alignment.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member ZE496's Avatar
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    Thanks Terry.

    So would this be a suitable/possible plan?....

    About 2" out from the T coupling, cut the pipe. The 2" leaves room to attach the shielded coupling i'll use later. From inside of the house, through the wall, elbow, through the studs, and into the shielded coupling I replace all with PVC? After taking measurements I may leave more than 2" at the T so the length of pipe I need to feed through the hole in the studs is as short as possible, but you get my point. I would definitely like to avoid cutting the supply line if possible.

    Again, thanks so much for setting my feet on the ground to move forward.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    Personally, I'd stay with copper...

    Are you comfortable sweating coper pipe?

    Is the pipe going into the wall on the left going to a valve under a sink? It looks to me like you have plenty of room and should not have to cut the studs.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member ZE496's Avatar
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    I wouldn't necessarily say I was comfortable sweating pipe, but i've done a couple of small projects around the house. The work wouldn't win any beauty awards, but no leaks, and it's held. I do get a bit nervous with flames around studs, and the like.

    Yes, the pipe on the left Ts off the a valve under the sink. I can't see without removing more siding where it goes up, but when I run my hand up the pipe I can feel that the diameter of the pipe gets larger right after the valve. It's dark out right now, so can't tell you where the pipe goes downward....i'm assuming it ties in somewhere to get back to the water heater. It's also a little rainy, so I have the entire area covered in plastic tucked under the siding at the top.

    Is that increase in the diameter going up some kind of expansion bulb or something? Sorry if that is a dumb question, i'm kind of new at plumbing. But I noticed something like that in the access to the shower works upstairs.

    If I have to cut that supply line, I have to do what I have to do, but i'd like to avoid it. Plus, i'd like to avoid getting into a mess where it carries over more than one day, the wife would not be happy. I'm sure someone with more experienced that wouldn't happen. But for a rookie a lot of time could be spent scratching my head, mustering courage to get-at-er, and heading back to the store for something....although I do try to get more than I need before I start and just return anything later that I didn't need.

    .......

    Okay, I just went out and measured the best I could given the low light and such.

    It appears the total length of the pipe with the split is 16 1/4 ". It's difficult to get an accurate because of the studs. But I believe that also includes the total length including where it goes into the T on the right and the elbow on the left.

    The distance between the four stud set and the next stud to the left is a mere 14".
    The distance from the studs to the hot water supply line is about 10".

    Man, that's tight. I haven't measured from the four stud set to where it Ts off to the right. I'd like to avoid involving the T junction if at all possible.
    Last edited by ZE496; 11-27-2012 at 03:36 PM.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    In those tight spaces, if you aren't aware of them, they do make a repair coupling. This looks like a coupling to connect two pipes together, but instead of having a stop in the middle to limit how far the pipe can go (and center the thing on the two pipes), it has no stop in the middle. SO, you slide it entirely over one pipe, position it back and align it with the other, then slide the coupling so it is (approximately) centered between the two pipes, then solder it in place. You want your pipe ends cut straight, but you should also cut them so they are close to a butt fit (a small gap is fine) before you slide the repair coupling over them. The magic with solder connections is clean, flux, heat the fitting, not the pipe, and don't overheat it and burn all of the flux out. Not all fluxes are created equal - one of the easier ones to use is a tinning flux, it has powdered solder in it to give it a start and flow before you add solder to complete the connection. They also make a spray fire retardant you can spray on the wood and a flame shield to help keep from burning the house down! Keep a fire extinquisher handy or a garden hose. An ember can start a fire hours later after you've left. Best to be safe rather than sorry.
    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 ZE496's Avatar
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    Yes, I used one of those slip type couplings when I installed a new fixture in the bathroom. But that was only, what, 1" or 3/4" pipe, I forget.

    Spray retardant sounds like a good idea also, although if I sweated new copper in i'd be really close to those studs, and retardant will probably be pretty difficult to get in the hole. Maybe if I go the copper route I can wet everything down after the copper is installed, maybe before also, so I won't have any unwanted surprises later.

    I really appreciate you guys taking the time to offer advice.

    I'd like to go back copper, but i'm leaning towards PVC. I'll have to ponder the measurements to see what kind of room is available. I'm thinking I am going to have to cut that supply line in order to get any kind of pipe through the hole in the studs. That means i'll be sweating copper, so I might as well sweat in new drain copper...........decisions decisions.

    As an aside: As far as getting the copper pipe with the split in it out of the elbow, how difficult is it to break the solder connection there? Do I just heat the elbow while twisting and pulling on the pipe with a pair of channel locks until the pipe comes out? Will I have to remove all traces of solder from inside the elbow? If so, how?....heat and a wet rag? Would it be better to just replace everything all the way back to where it connects with the garbage disposal?
    Last edited by ZE496; 11-27-2012 at 09:31 PM.

  8. #8
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    What's on the other side of the wall? If you have access to the pipe there, cut the whole mess out and splice in new pipe and elbow. When soldering in tight spaces where there fire is almost certainly probable, you need to use more than a retardant and spray bottle of water. I have found a #10 can with both ends removed and the side split makes a pretty good shield. Wedge it in between the joint and wood. Do keep a spray bottle of water within reach as fire is still a possibility. Not knowing what is on the other side of the wall makes this suggestion a bit iffy, but it's a thought.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    They got that piece of pipe into the studs, so you should be able to get it out and put the new piece in, but you will probably have to do from inside the room, because the studs on that side may already be notched out, we cannot tell from your picture. Your hardest task with using copper may be finding someone who will sell you a 24" piece. One problem with changing to plastic may be that the copper going into the tee is also eroded and needs to be changed. I have not seen many "cracked" copper drains which did not need the whole piece of pipe replaced.
    Last edited by hj; 11-28-2012 at 06:23 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member ZE496's Avatar
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    On the other side of the wall is under the sink. Only wallboard/plaster. All and any wood is well out of range.

    In the past when I sweated copper one thing I used was an old (metal) license plate from the garage.

  11. #11

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    Be very careful in doing anything to those four studs. Four studs sistered together is most likely a load bearing column for an upper floor beam and if so the drilled hole has already compromised its load carrying ability. You go cutting any notches and you may reduce your ceiling height an inch or two...

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