Would you rather burn your house down or flood it?


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Old 06-08-07, 05:26 PM
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Would you rather burn your house down or flood it?

I don't even know where to begin. I have been searching this forum for 2 days straight now. And I have found similar issues... but not exactly. I have a 1950's era home that has a hall bathroom without a shower, only a tub. The tub is located under a window also but that is for another post.... Anyway, I gutted the bathroom down to the studs and discovered some rather "creative" i.e. "lazy" plumbing work. (curved pipe that should have been elbowed, waste pipe and supply lines coming out of a hole in the floor-which charmingly doubled as a laundry chute. You can see photos here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/sukeysue
In keeping with lazy history of one of the house, to convert the tub into a tub/shower I figured that I would cut the copper supply pipes and attach the much loved/hated Shark Bite couplers and then extend it up into the the new tub/shower faucet with user friendly cpvc. So far I have been to Home Depot twice (I live 30 miles away) The first time I got loaded up with cpvc and S.B's only to find out once I got home that the copper pipe was 3/8 instead of 1/2 in. ( I measured the outside diameter.oopsie!) Thank God I didn't cut any pipe before I realized it. On the second trip I found out that they didn't have any 3/8 couplers at all. Although the brochure says that they are now available-where they are available is anyone's guess. Was this a completely assinine idea? Should I patiently await a 3/8 coupler or do I risk burning my house down and try to solder? I am married but my husband has an aversion to home improvement. He has a cordless drill but apparently it is only for looks. I am trying to do this while he is out of town for the weekend. He would never let me try to solder nor will he fork out the $300 that the plumber wants to do it. Initially, I was going to just swap out faucets but the lazy doofus before me attached it with threaded copper adapters and then soldered them onto the supply pipes. I realized this after experiencing bloody palms and a near hernia. What should I do? I am not attractive enough to be able to pick up a plumber boyfriend for the weekend before my husband gets home. How many people have died in soldering accidents? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 06-08-07, 08:47 PM
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Since I dont completely understand what you're trying to do, I'm going to try to help as much as I can.

My guess is that the "curved" plumbing you see is flexible copper tubing, which is generally sized different than regular copper pipe. The flexible stuff is usually measured by the outside diameter, and the normal pipe is measured by the inside diameter. A 1/2 inch copper pipe's outside diameter is closer to 5/8", where 1/2 inch copper tubing is probably closer to 3/8 inside diameter. You may need to find something to adapt the flexible tubing to to the copper pipe before trying to convert to the tubing you are planning on using.

Soldering isn't that scary, as long as you take some precautions. Make sure you put some type of barrier between the copper pipe and the wood, like a piece of sheet metal or something like that. That will help prevent heat transfer to the wood. It also wouldn't hurt to wet down the wood so it doesn't light up in about 5 seconds flat (which is about as long as it takes). Keep in mind that it will be very difficult to desolder if there is any water in the lines at all. It is usually easier to just cut it and replace the section.

The guy you call a "lazy dufus" did do some things right. The threaded fittings you see is normal going into the valve. They are supposed to be soldered like that. The threads are there to make it easy to convert from the copper piping to the heavy brass body. The only way to get those off is to either cut the pipe, or drain the system and heat the pipes enough so that the solder melts and you can take them apart.

If you want to convert to a shower, why not just take the plug out of the top of the mixing valve, and extend a pipe up so that it will run a shower head. Then all you have to do is put a different tub filler on with a valve so the water is forced up the shower tube rather than the tub filler.

I'm not entirely sure, but you might be in a little over your head, but I definitely give you credit for trying. Just be very careful, because the $300 you pay for a plumber may seem like a deal compared to the damage that you could do if something goes wrong.
 
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Old 06-08-07, 09:25 PM
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OK...i'll add to the post.

I didn't see anything really lazy. The 'soft copper' as a plumbers call it, contrary to the above post, is normal and isn't sized differently then hard copper(they both use the same fittings). Both of which are measured by OD. The plumber wasn't necessarily lazy in his installation. The valve is also installed correctly.

All the pipe i see is 1/2" copper. The 'soft' copper and the 'hard' copper. It isn't 5/8" or 3/8" or anything of the above mentioned.

Here is your issue:

1) Plumber use ID as our pipe measurement which is what the 1/2" is. It is 5/8" OD.

2) Air conditioning people use OD as their measurement so their 1/2" pipe is usually about 3'8" ID.

Now, back to your issues. I personally wouldn't use shark bite fittings because it is an area you will be closing back up. I wouldn't recommend using shark bites or compression type fitting sexcept in areas where you can get easy access back to em if something leaks.

With that being said....i cant really teach how to solder over the internet. If you have never done it before you may not want to start on something inside a wall.

If you wish to go the shark bite fitting route, the ones at home depot that say 1/2" should work on the pipe i see connecting to the valve or the pipe i see under the floor. The pipe you have coming off of those 2 little shutoffs for the sink is 3/8". You can just disconnect that at the nut and replace with felxible supplies for the new sink.

As for the 'grey' pipe coming out for your tub spout...that is galvanized piping. If your going to try and get that off you will need pipe wrenches most likely. You don't get enough leverage with pliers to get em off. IF you decide to use a pipe wrench you will probably find it easy enough to TIGHTEN the pipe first till it budges. Then it should loosen right off.

Anything else i can do to help just post back and ask. I'd be glad to try and guide you.


P.S. ID = Inside diameter OD - Outside diameter
 
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Old 06-09-07, 09:28 AM
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Go ahead and solder. Take just a few precautions.

Wet down all the wood around where you are working. have a spray bottle of water there also so you can spray any hot spots after your done. Also have a bucket of water available. This is overkill, but you just never know.

Others have given some good advice, so have fun with your plumbing.
 
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Old 06-09-07, 08:15 PM
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I am in over my head...

Thank you for your replies. I felt very guilty about calling that guy a doofus. This house frustrates me to no end and I was lashing out. Who am I to judge? Anyway, I have come to the realization that all of those DIY home improvement shows have made me delusional enough to think that I could do this myself. The worst influence has been that HD commercial where that single mother rewires her entire house all by herself! I have decided to throw in the towel. Plumbing is an art and a skill that I cannot master. $300 for a plumber is nothing compared to the time, gas, energy, and money that I have already invested into this thing not to mention the potential damage and loss of limb, life and eyebrows had I done this myself. My brother will be here next week for a wedding and he said that he might be able to do it. In the meantime, I will ask for a soldering set for Christmas and practice for the next big plumbing project. (never again!) I learned a lot trying (especially from these forums) but everybody needs to know their limitations. Thank you again for all the advice!
 
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Old 06-09-07, 08:40 PM
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Have a plan before you demo!

Eagle96, extending a shower pipe from the existing mixer valve would have been by far the best idea yet. I had actually considered this and have tried to get that top plug off (it won't budge either) . I pitched everything when I demo-ed the bathroom. I didn't know if it was possible to get new fixtures that would work with the present valve. It also leaked before and it seemed like it was set too low for a shower (??). It was kind of crusty and green too. I still might try it though if my brother can't do it. At least I wouldn't have to solder or cut any pipes. Simpler is always better!
 
 

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