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Thread: Is installation too flimsy?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    Default Is installation too flimsy?

    Name:  hose bib2.jpg
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    I recently had a galvanized pipe replaced in my wall with copper. It was the lone remaining non-copper pipe in my house, which I discovered after it sprang a leak. Nice. So anyway, the pipe led outside to my hose bib, and in turn to my sprinklers. You can see the configuration in the attached photo. The plastic you see leads into my patio slab, and eventually to my sprinklers. The configuration itself is basically the same as before. It's not ideal perhaps, but everything is working fine.

    My question has to do with the quality of the work. Does it look okay? First of all, I wasn't expecting the copper pipe to be so thin. The old galvanized pipe was 1". The new pipe measures 5/8".

    Also, I can move the pipe back and forth around 1/16" to 1/8". I have to say that I never thought to test the galvanized pipe that this replaced. Regardless, it makes me concerned about dragging a hose around the yard, that the pipe and stucco might not withstand normal use as we turn the water on and off, and drag the hose across the yard.

    Should I be concerned?

    Thanks ahead of time!

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A couple of things - I agree, the valve should be properly supported and it's not. But, unless there's a backflow preventer in the sprinkler system, it is both illegal and dangerous. In most places, that backflow preventer must be tested and recertified annually, or the water company will shut your water off. I'm not sure if the connection to it is to code, either, but I'm not a pro. Normally, pvc (at least that looks like pvc) is not allowed above ground. It can get brittle and crack from UV exposure over time and it's pressure rating decreases radically when it gets hot - the sun can heat it considerably (which is why it's okay underground...the temp and UV exposure are limited).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. Let's assume there's a backflow preventer for now.

    What is the aspect that may be "illegal and dangerous?" The lack of a support? Or the PVC details you described?

    Also, what about the width of the copper pipe?

    Finally, what can I do to add "proper support?"

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    The "illegal and dangerous" bit comes from the fact that your installation poses the risk of contamination of your (and the public's) drinking
    water supply with whatever nasty pool of water your hose end might be lying in. Such installation have been outlawed for many years by
    the plumbing codes. Hose bibbs, and any connection to an irrigation system, must be equipped with approved backflow preventers.

    The job you show is decidedly low-end. There are numerous deficiencies. You are right to worry about the mechanical integrity of that setup.
    Especially, the use of a female-threaded plastic fitting like that is very bad. Whether the pipe size is going to have adverse consequences depends
    on the details of your "irrigation system".
    Last edited by kreemoweet; 05-11-2013 at 11:02 PM.

  5. #5
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; Let's assume there's a backflow preventer for now.

    1. Why would we do that when there is obviously NO BFP in the line. At least not one in an approved location.
    2. The photo is no a good one, but I assume the copper fitting is screwed INTO the PVC elbow. If so, it will eventually crack the elbow. IF it is a PVC thread into a copper female fitting, then it will eventually break off it the copper is able to move.
    3. sizewise, we cannot tell if it is 1/2" or 3/4" copper, not do we know the real size of the galvanized pipe which was removed, although common practice would be to use the same size for the replacement as what was removed.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    I see. I apparently had no idea what a backflow preventer was! But I Googled it and understand it now. Not many of the houses in my neighborhood have backflow preventers (from what I have seen).

    My plumber's job was basically to just replace the galvanized with copper. He basically did just that, and said nothing about my initial setup not being up to code.

    As for the PVC, he actually decreased the amount of PVC above ground. To remove it all would require tearing up my patio.

    Okay. Anything else about the copper itself I should be concerned about?

    Is there some way to provide the structure more support that I should look into, or is redoing the whole thing "properly" my only option?

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    I assume the copper fitting is screwed INTO the PVC elbow. If so, it will eventually crack the elbow.
    Very insightful! This job was actually done twice. The first time, the plumber only installed enough copper to lead to the hose bib, and preserved the PVC leading away from it. After about 4 months, the PVC first elbow sprang several pinhole leaks. So we had him come back out and he added more copper. The elbow was replaced with copper, though on more elbow now remains.

    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    IF it is a PVC thread into a copper female fitting, then it will eventually break off it the copper is able to move.
    I took a closer look, and the copper does not go directly into the PVC elbow. There is a short bit of PVC that goes into the PVC elbow. The copper then attaches to the short bit of PVC. I cannot tell if they screw into each other, but they appear to have some glue where they join. I'm guessing that to be the weakest point.


    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    3. sizewise, we cannot tell if it is 1/2" or 3/4" copper, not do we know the real size of the galvanized pipe which was removed, although common practice would be to use the same size for the replacement as what was removed.
    Well the outside of the copper measures 5/8". How is the pipe measured, from the inside? That make this 1/2" then, right? The galvanized it replaced was certainly wider, and the PVC measured 1".

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    Name:  hose bib elbow.jpg
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    I have uploaded a close-up of the elbow, where the copper joins it. I was incorrect about where the glue was. Honestly, I cannot tell for sure how this was done. I count at least 5 parts involved here.

  9. #9
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Pipe is measured from the ID (inside diameter) of the pipe.
    However, that being said, CPVC and PEX use the same OD as the corresponding pipe size in copper.
    So the OD is the same, but the ID is a little smaller.
    PVC is a true ID dimension, but the OD is now larger, as is galvanized.

    For irrigation, you will need a back flow device to be legal. You can't legally hook up irrigation without protection to the water supply. It's a safety hazard for you and you neighbors.

    Threading a male adapter into a plastic female fitting is always a bad idea. I know a lot of inspectors that would have failed that.
    It should have been a metal female with a plastic male.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; The galvanized it replaced was certainly wider, and the PVC measured 1".

    1/2" copper measures 5.8" o.d. 1/2" galvanized and PVC measure about 7/8", so everything you have, and had, was probably 1/2". "It should have been a metal female with a plastic male", but since a 1/2" PVC male adapter is about the "weakest" fitting in the entire plumbing industry, that would not be much of an improvement.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    Don't know about the LA area, but here in the bay area residential backflow prevention seems to be usually done in two ways.

    1) An in-line screw-on backflow preventer is screwed onto the hose spigot(s) and a set-screw is tightened down (to prevent removal) and then broken off.

    2) Each vacuum breaker on the sprinkler valves needs to be at least 6" (if I remember correctly) above the highest head they serve.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluebinky View Post
    An in-line screw-on backflow preventer is screwed onto the hose spigot(s) and a set-screw is tightened down (to prevent removal) and then broken off.
    Can you link to a picture of what this looks like? I tried looking through Google images, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harper View Post
    Can you link to a picture of what this looks like? I tried looking through Google images, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
    Something like this. Some seem to be check valves and others vacuum breakers. I never paid much attention to them. You can also just get the proper valve, although the inspectors here had never seen one...
    Name:  ZRN_BFP-9.jpg
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    Last edited by bluebinky; 05-12-2013 at 05:18 PM.

  14. #14
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    That is only appropriate for the hose spigot. An installed irrigation system requires an RPZ back flow preventer.

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    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    That is only appropriate for the hose spigot. An installed irrigation system requires an RPZ back flow preventer.
    Correct, of course.

    Here (in northern California) the "irrigation systems" are usually protected only by the control valves being mounted up a foot or two above the ground. We don't have to worry about them freezing.
    Name:  077985606107lg.jpg
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    Not saying this is necessarily correct, but the inspectors don't even bat an eye when they see such an installation.
    Last edited by bluebinky; 05-12-2013 at 06:43 PM.

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