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Thread: Main valve buried in cement needs replacement, How would you break it out?

  1. #1
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    Default Main valve buried in cement needs replacement, How would you break it out?

    Hello, I have an old house that has had many changes over the years. I am not sure when the pluming was changed from a well to city water main, could be the 70's could be the 40's. The original foundation is stone. At some point the basement was dug out (or possibly added) and the stone backed up with cement block and the space between the block and stone, a ft or 2, back filled with pea gravel. The original water valve was partly buried in the cement block. I have no idea what kind of pipe is in the wall, if there is open space or what not. The existing valve was sweated to 3/4" soft copper tubing on the inside. A few years ago I added a ball valve. The joint out of the original valve is now leaking and I need to dig it out and do a proper fix. Monday morning I will have the city shut off at the curb before I start to hammer at it. Given what we know, or don't know, how would you bust out the old valve? I want to minimize damage to the pipe and nearby sewer line. I have several tools at my disposal. A big hammer, 1/2" flat stone chissle, 1" star chissle, hammer drill, pneumatic chissle, large and small side grinders with masonary blades.
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    With any luck I should end up with a copper pipe I can just use a compression fitting on. Do I need to cut it off or can I use a compression fitting over the tinned end? I expect I will have to back fill the hole with cement as well. Any speculation on what else I may find for materials hidden away?


    Thank you.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

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  2. #2
    IBEW Electrician big2bird's Avatar
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    Shut off the water, take a hammer drill with a chisel point and just start chipping it open. Make a decent size hole that you can work with, and see what you have.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Unsolder the old valve from its copper tube, then solder on a coupling and short piece of copper between it and the ball valve. Although, I would probably solder the ball valve on to the old pipe, it there was enough room for the handle to turn.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big2bird View Post
    Shut off the water, take a hammer drill with a chisel point and just start chipping it open. Make a decent size hole that you can work with, and see what you have.
    Thank you. That's about what I had in mind. I have a 12" or 18" long bit for the drill. Start breaking up the 1/2 block above the valve. Once it is out I can work down to the valve and pipe.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The solder joint is only about 3/4" inside the wall so all you have to do is "break out" around the valve. You do not have do a major demolition job on the wall, nor will you have to "patch" it afterwards.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    One concern I have is that the curb stop is not 100% at least I don't think it is. I was thinking compression fitting to the first valve so I dont have to worry about the little dribble messing up the joint. At the least I could go small on the chipping at first.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There are tools and techniques that can handle a slow leak - JetSwet would work and one of those disks that swell, and eventually disolve might work long enough to allow you to solder. You couldn't use a freezing unit, as you'd need access to more of the line in the wall.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    Is an old school compression fitting really that bad? I am talking the ones with a metal band crushed in under a wrenced on nut. Not the shark bite crap.
    Last edited by tjbaudio; 12-03-2012 at 01:14 PM.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If the condition of the pipe is good (nice and round and clean), a compression joint should be okay. It becomes more dicey if the pipe isn't in good shape.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I NEVER use compression joints larger than 1/2". The larger ones are too susceptible to failure due to movement. There are lots of ways to handle a small drip through a curb stop, assuming it actually leaks.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  11. #11
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    curbstop was 100% so I used the smoke wrenceh, pictures to come later.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

  12. #12
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    Talking Repair done, with pics and how to.

    Water guy came out at 9am today to turn off the water. In our town they leave the tool for me to use till I am done with the repair. Also, no charge to turn off the water for a repair.

    First I drilled a ring of holes 2 to 3" deep. This forms a frature line and a starting point to chisel from.Name:  holes.jpg
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    Next I started with a hammer and star chisel I very soon changed over to the air tool!
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    Start at the holes and work in.
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    As you get close to the pipe be vary carefull. Remember, cement has almost no tensile strenth. I scored the cement but did not get close to the pipe with the air tool.
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    Once I got to this point I used a 1/2" chisel and very light taps. Think dentist chipping at a tooth. Very light and easy. This part only took a few hits.

    Finaly, ready to work on the pipe.
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    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

  13. #13
    Sound and Light Suppervisor for a School District tjbaudio's Avatar
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    The problem was 50+ years of turbulent water had worn away the pipe wall just past the valve.
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    The good news was that the main line was copper and in very good shape.

    I was also lucky and found the exact 2 pieces I needed in my parts bin. I did not have to cut the pipe but I did square and debure the ends.
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    After cleaning up the ends and fitting all the parts, I blew out the lines with air. Next was flux and heat. I put a wet rag around the other end of the valve to keep that joint from heating up too much.
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    Unfortunatly I messed up the joint at the street side. It leaked after a couple of minuts of pressure. I shut the water back off and was lucky enough to be able to heat the coupling off (wraped the valve in a wet rag.) I think the problem was I had the tourch at an odd angle and did not get all the heat at the correct spot. It could also have been a poor flux job. Second time around I heated the flux a little to make it spread better. I also used a second new coupling I had. So far no leaks! All told it took a little over 1/2 a day. Plan a full day anyway. That bad joint cost me an extra hour. A bad main line would have cost me an extra day or more!
    Last edited by tjbaudio; 12-03-2012 at 01:29 PM.
    tjbaudio
    I have a mild form of Dyslexia that affects my ability to spell. I do use spell checking to help but it does not always work. My form of Dyslexia does not affect my reading. Dyslexics of the world untie!

    www.incertclevername.com

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    IBEW Electrician big2bird's Avatar
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    Nice work. I cannot think of one thing I would have done differently. Kudos.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; I cannot think of one thing I would have done differently

    At least nothing except NOT take a half day to do it.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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