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Thread: Is installation too flimsy?

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

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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
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    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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    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".

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    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?

  8. #8
    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.
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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.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member Harper's Avatar
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    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.
    Thanks! I think I'm fine with the sprinklers. I'll look for the one for the spigot.

    My last concern I think is how to reinforce the entire structure so that we don't eventually compromise the pipe and wall from the hose pulling against it. Any ideas? Something to mount on the wall? Screw into the patio?
    Last edited by Terry; 05-13-2013 at 08:28 AM.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    There are state and federal laws pertaining to BFPs. I would find it hard to believe that California, with the most restrictive environmental protective laws in the US, don't have requirements for BF devices and provisions for periodic inspections to make certain they are not only installed, but are functioning properly. I have to suspect the qualifications of the "plumber" that did this work for you.

  12. #12
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There's a difference between BFP and a vacuum breaker, and you may be required to have both, but they are not interchangeable!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member ritzplumbing's Avatar
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    Lots of good advise here. I called Ritz Plumbing, the 24 hour emergency plumber in Rancho Park, when I needed help installing my irrigation system.

  14. #14
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    If you insist on keeping the existing set-up, set a post in the concrete to act as a support for the piping. I would also set a second post to protect the PVC going into the ground, because that will be a likely spot for it to get broken off.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    I agree with Cacher but would also paint the PVC to protect it from sunlight, which can make the PVC brittle.

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