plumbing posts

redo of plumbing fix

As I said in my last post, I recently had to cut out a section of pipe to fix a split, but the soldering job didn’t hold. I had been a little worried about the one joint, as I had heat it up a lot to get it to sweat, and the solder hadn’t gone in nicely enough for my liking. It was just a drip, so I had left it go, turning on the hot water section only when needed.

Sunday before last, when it was warm in the 50’s, I went back down to fix the leak again. I unsweated the whole two connection bits to make sure I could get them cleaned well. It’s unfortunately a pain to unsweat anything, as I can never get all the water out at the union I have. I have to push on the pipes to drain as much as possible, then pour a lot of heat into the first joint to melt it. Once I get the first joint open, I can then push the pipes to drain most of the water out, so subsequent unsweats are fairly easy. But that draining, followed by getting enough solder off to get things back together, is the biggest difficulty I have in plumbing.

I heated all the removed bits at a table and brushed off as much solder as I could. I got the two pipe ends under the house as good as I could. I sweat everything back together. The sweat at the same place as last time didn’t look that great, but I figured I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, this time water was spraying out of the joint. There was no way I could leave that while running anything.

I had to go through the whole rigamaroo of draining the water once again. I only unsweat the one joint this time, as I didn’t feel like doing everything all over again. Either in that unsweating process or in a previous one, I must have bent the pipe right as it went into the joint. It was kinda flattened, but not right at the end. I decided I might as well try it out as is, as I’d otherwise have to cut out that bit and cut another bit to replace the whole replacement bit I had made the other day. I really didn’t feel like doing that. I cleaned the two sides underneath the house there as best I could. I tried to go quickly in sweating to get the best joint possible, though I ended up reheating once to pour some more solder in. I just stuffed the flat side with solder, as much as I could get in there. Solder was dripping onto the ground.

I was, of course, rather worried about this joint holding up. To my amazement, when I turned on the water, it held just fine. There appeared to be a little, very slow seepage, but that must’ve just been leftover water from before: I haven’t seen anything dripping since. I’ve checked underneath the house a number of times since then, especially when it had gotten in the teens temperature wise again (I put the space heater down there in advance to ensure no freeze-ups), but have seen no signs of drippage. Soon I’ll remove the insulation again to see if perhaps it is dripping so slow that it is just getting absorbed by the insulation, but I think I am in the clear.

Now, this is good incentive for me to get that floor better insulated this summer. I’m considering putting two heat tape lines on the inside-the-floor piping, just to make sure it doesn’t freeze. I’m hoping that heat on just a little bit will carry through the whole pipe system to make sure it doesn’t freeze up. I’m also hoping that the tape doesn’t get too hot in the pipe insulation under the floor and melt the insulation or even cause a fire.

Plumbing break

I had my first split pipe a little over a week ago. The pipes froze for maybe the fifth time this year, on what might have been the coldest day of the year. I had put a lightbulb under the house, but it was no match for that cold and wind. I had shut off the water and opened the valves during the cold. After it warmed up, I put my space heater below the house to unthaw the lines (I had done this once before with fast results). It unthawed them, but I found one hot water line spraying out water.

I shut off the hot water side. Something made me think I had a leak in a cold water line as well. I think my toilet, which has a long delay for its valve to open after flushing, must have opened and when I heard the loud water rushing, I thought I had another leak. So I shut off all my water at my filter, which is inside the house.

For over a week I got my water from the filter: I had removed the filter part and was getting water from the hole that went through it. I boiled water for baths, filled jugs to use for teeth brushing, dish washing, and cooking. The water looked kinda junky, so I got my drinking water from my parents house.

Then one night I came home to find water dripping from the filter. When I went to shut it off, it fell apart and water was pouring out. I shut off my water at the main valve and had absolutely no water for a while. Luckily, the filter was not especially damaged, and I was able to just put it all back together. Evidently, the filter part holds a plastic plate against the valve part, preventing it from being pushed out. So I need to keep the filter on there.

Then I went underneath to fix the break. It was maybe a 1 inch break in the hot water line going to my kitchen. After some time of looking and crawling under my house, I determined that there was in fact no break in the cold water lines. I could have had cold running water that whole time. Without too much trouble, other than getting rather cold, I was able to cut out the old broken bit and put in a new bit with a junction. It held water just fine and finally I had all my water running again. I took a shower that night in celebration.

A few days later (yesterday) it got rather cold again. I put my space heater underneath the house just to make sure nothing froze up again. Unfortunately, a leak has developed, probably just at one of the soldered joints. I was worried about the one that had been there before, with how much heat I used to do some of the new joints. I’ll have to take care of that when the weather gets better. For now, I’m just shutting the valve till I need hot water.