Adventures under the laundry sink

After I'd had my first cuppa this morning, Mary informed me that she had some unpleasant news. I'm never quite sure whether she's tweaking
me or not, which is part of what makes life fun. She wasn't this time: there was again a leak under the laundry sink. Said leak was not near the repair site from a few months ago but only a couple of inches away. Awright, so it's time to replace the whole pipe, which entailed moving a couple of jugs from under the sink. Awright, maybe 30 jugs of various and sundry chemicals. You know the stuff that accumulates in a laundry room, right? Bleach, detergent, gallon of hydrochloric acid, gallon of glacial acetic acid, half a dozen assorted phosphoric-acid metal treat soups, Birchwood-Casey aluminum blackener, jug of caustic metal cleaner ... the usual stuff. I also had to move the washer and water softener a bit to gain access. The other end, near the water meter, was gonna be painful no matter what because it's under the laundry sink. My old bod doesn't fold up as easily as it once did, and then there's unfolding. But the leak wasn't gonna fix itself and bandaids clearly wouldn't suffice. Many modern plumbers don't solder copper plumbing, they use some kinda compression fittings that don't seem expensive compared to the labor charge for installing them, even though they're priced like goods sold in a jewellry store. Bah! I don't trust them newfangled gizmos. Probably last as long as it takes the plumber's Rolls-Royce van to clear the driveway. Only took me two trips to Home Depot. If I lived further away I'd plan more carefully, but it's only a couple of miles. On first trip I got some pipe, a 90 elbow and a 45 elbow. Got home, started disassembling. Hm, the pipe terminates in one end in a solder-type gate valve. The valve seems to be OK but sometimes re-soldering used plumbing can present problems, gate valves are only about 7 bux and this one must be at least 30 years old. Back to Depot to get a new valve. Also got a new ground clamp for two bux. I'd debated getting 5' of pipe because I was pretty sure that would suffice, but a 10 footer was only 3 bux more (12 vs 9) and 3 bux is cheap insurance five minutes after the store closes with my job incomplete. Good call, Foreman. I cut the main run, 48-1/2", and then I cut the short dogleg 7". Pieced it together. Didn't fit, not even close. WTF??? Oooohhhh! After I'd carefully cut the 48-1/2" length I'd then cleverly cut the short piece out of the measured piece. Measure twice, cut once -- then do over because I'd carefully measured and cut from the wrong stock. Oh well -- I had my $3 insurance policy! The soldering was completely uneventful this time and the joints look better than most pro work he said modestly. Wiped joints even. Damn, I'm good! OK, so I use tin-silver solder that costs about 25 bux a pound, so what? Pardon me for knowing what works, right? The antimony-based lead-free solder sold for plumbing is a lot cheaper and it works reasonably well on new work if everything is perfect -- but things are seldom perfect in repair jobs. The tin-silver stuff melts at about the same temp (430F) as the antimony-based lead-free stuff, but it wets and flows on reasonably clean copper even better (considerably better) even than the old lead-tin solder. It also wets and flows readily on brass, steel and stainless, and it's considerably stronger than lead-tin. Heat joint gently until a swipe with the solder leaves a streak, heat a bit more, touch solder to work. WHAM, it melts and flows all round and into the joint like water. It's good shit, Maynard! Job done, tenuously turn on water. This is always a moment of truth. Two leaks. Phew! Leaks are obligatory in repair work. If there were no leaks it would probably mean that the house will collapse tomorrow just after the meteor strike. Both leaks were associated with the union-like joints associated with the water meter. A bit of heavy lifting (senior grade) with my biggest croissant wrench fixed those, still had a one drop-per-second drip. I'd about decided to let it drip and the hell with it when I realized where it was actually originating. It was the packing nut around the stem of the main shutoff valve, which I'd shut off to do the job. The old nut probably got backed off a bit when I re-opened that valve. It just needed a bit of snugging. That happens with old nuts... Voila and hoooahhh, we're as dry as a dissertation on Cleopatra's cosmetics.
Post-mortem on old pipe: something had been eating it. Wall thickness was about .026". I could easily bend it over my knee. Might have been electrolytic, don't know. New pipe will surely outlast me so I don't care. Tomorrow I shall carry all of the tools back up the stairs that I carried down the stairs today in many trips.
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I rapidly became a fan of 21st century plumbing stuff! Shark-Bites are your friend!
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wrote:

Shark-Bites are very pricey bandaids for those who can't solder.
21st century plumbing is plastic, not copper.
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The last plumbing job I did was kitchen sink/disposal/dishwasher after cabinet mods, floor and new countertops. I wrote a list of what had to hook up and the sizes and lengths. At Home Depot, the guy in plumbing was an actual PLUMBER! I got a quick lesson, a cart full of pieces parts and headed out. Job time, start to finish including all the cutting was less than an hour. The longest time spent on the really, really short tail piece on the non-disposal sink. The shark bites only transition the old copper to the plastic. I did the dishwasher supply in copper then a long reinforced braided plastic kit. To do this the old way would have taken another two hours I'd bet. But it did cost a little bunch more.
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Mon, 12 Oct 2009 04:14:26 -0400 did write/type or cause to appear in rec.crafts.metalworking the following:

    Time is money And we do what we feel comfortable doing.
- pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
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And for those who read newspapers and know that solder sweating has caused hundreds of fires, some HUGE, and some deaths. Locations to be soldered are not always out on a bench held in a vise with nothing around. I have used SharkBites, like them, am going to use them wherever they are safer, and would recommend them to anyone.
It's kind of hard giving up something you've used for sixty years, even though progress, science and modern times gives us something better. But if using a wooden club and a rock still works for you, what the hell?
Steve
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wrote:

I'm afraid I completely neglected considering the risk of igniting the nearby concrete block wall, thereby causing a fatal conflagration that would undoubtedly contribute to global warming. My only excuse is that the paper I read seems to have been notably remiss in reporting such incidents.
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on or about Mon, 12 Oct 2009 12:00:10 -0500 did write/type or cause to appear in rec.crafts.metalworking the following:

    You expect the liberal media to accurately report such things? When they are owned by big Corporations which suppress The Truth(tm). The fact remains that some thousands of years ago, the Sahara was a thriving Eco-system, when an evil capitalists plumber set fire to a concrete wall while building a Pyramid Factory, and the resulting conflagration not only burned down the entire Sahara Forest but started the Anthrogenetive global warming too! Ended the Ice Ages. Killed off the cute wooly mammoths and sabre tooth tigers too
tschus pyotr . - pyotr filipivich We will drink no whiskey before its nine. It's eight fifty eight. Close enough!
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On Mon, 12 Oct 2009 12:00:10 -0500, Don Foreman

I must admit that I still use tin/lead solder.
Shock! Horror! Probe!
So bloody what. The house next door still has a lead water main and it hasn't killed any of them yet :-|
Mark Rand RTFM
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The real question is, how stupid are they? <g>
--
Ed Huntress



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On Mon, 12 Oct 2009 19:51:13 -0700 (PDT), Too_Many_Tools

Slightly alkaline.
Not like when I was down in Devon. That was known to be plumbosolvent from history, to the extent that the water treatment works there actually pass the water over lime beds to raise the pH.
Mark Rand RTFM
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Please reread and check your reading comprehension regarding your use of the word "those". This suggests a large proportion of other end users, and not necessarily you, who we know such things could not and never have happened to.
Steve
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wrote:

My reading comprehension isn't at issue with words I use, and I don't seem to have used that word here.
Glad to know of your recommendation. Let us know if you have any long-term problems. I can certainly see how Shark-bites would be preferable to soldering in a location like under a kitchen sink surrounded by wood. Had a sit like this summer at the cabin but the new faucet came with compression fittings so no soldering was necessary. I strongly dislike compression fittings, but they did seem to work. I turn off the well pump when we're not there.
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Thank you, Don, for the calm reply. You are a solid contributor to this and other groups, and know a ton about this stuff. Although you were working with a concrete wall (but you didn't say that first), it sounded like you were recommending it to all. I DO personally know two professionals who know what they are doing inside and out who started large construction fires, and they can do sweating behind their backs. Shit happens to even people who know what they're doing. I do prefer sweating to SharkBites because of the cost and the final result, but there's no contest when it comes to being easy, and something that a novice can SAFELY do. You yourself know that it takes time to learn to sweat properly, that a lot depends on the type of solder they GIVE you and tell you it will work, the gas you use, the barometric pressure, the day of the week, etc, etc, etc, and Murphy's Law takes over from there.
Steve
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wrote:

I found the "those" you referred to; I did, in fact, use that word. I shall amend my comment as follows:
"Shark-Bites are very pricey bandaids for those who can't solder, as well as for those who can but would prefer not to."
If a guy just has one repair to make and doesn't already have the skill and tools to make good soldered joints, the Shark-Bites are probably an excellent option. As for new construction and remodelling, I think that's all plastic now. Shark-Bites can provide a transition from old copper to new plastic.
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Any time I use a torch for plumbing near combustables, I have a full quart-size trigger spray bottle of water within reach and a fire extinguisher with me as a backup. Having a phone readily available is easy these days.
Wetting bare wood with water spray greatly reduces the chance of ignition IMO, and readily cools any scorched spots.
The use of heat shields made from small sections of (clean) roofing flashing is easy protection from excess heat, and protecting finished surfaces.
One should plan the work so there are few if any distractions, and their time, so there is no need to leave as soon as the work is completed.
--
WB
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And an old roll of asbestos paper, held up with thumb tacks, helps as well. I spray with water, tack up the paper, and spray that. And then I use a torch attachment (if I'm using propane) that's made to curl the flame around the pipe. The multi-tip heads made for this job still leave too much flame going up, in my limited experience with them.
But I use MAPP gas now, which tends to curl around the pipe pretty well on its own. And my roll of asbestos paper is so old that I can't unroll it without cracking it into little pieces. <g> I bought it around 30 years ago. The wood in my house was installed 85 years ago and bursts into flame like it was soaked in kerosene.
There is some flexible cloth or paper made out of Kaowool now, which ought to do the job. One of the distributors is just a mile from me. I want to go check it out some time; until then, I can't be sure if it's any good.
http://www.atlantech1.com/products/searchresults.aspx
I hope I won't have to worry about it for a while.
--
Ed Huntress


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Yep, the swirl-type MAPP torch flame I've been using for quite a while now, is much better than the basic pointed blue cone flame propane torch of years ago.
The larger diameter swirling flame provides much better overall heating for parts the size of common plumbing sweat fittings.
--
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On Tue, 13 Oct 2009 13:20:13 -0400, "Ed Huntress"

The Oatey blanket isn't Kaowool but it works fine and I think it's physically somewhat more robust than Kaowool. Kaowool is sort of a non-woven fabric. I'd worry a little about the ceramic fibers in Kaowool breaking with handling and getting into skin or creating respiratory hazard. See MSDS at http://www.anvilfire.com/sales/ThermalCeramics/201.pdf and safety notice at http://www.anvilfire.com/sales/ThermalCeramics/kaowool_label.htm
I use a Prestolite acetylene-air torch. Much softer flame than propane or Mapp so it really wraps around the pipe, and a fairly short low-velocity flame provides ample heat. I don't think I'd like the weight of that B acetylene bottle on a ladder, though.
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On Tue, 13 Oct 2009 12:53:37 -0400, "Wild_Bill"

Oatey makes a woven ceramic heat shield that works very well. http://www.castlewholesalers.com/OATEY-31400-Flame-Protector-9-X-12-.html
They're available at Home Depot.
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