Just too tight of space for installing a pipe

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Old 11-09-08, 12:25 PM
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Just too tight of space for installing a pipe

I have a galvinized steel 'T' that feeds a brass shower valve. The distance between the two is about 4 inches.

My problem is that there isn't much room, and once I put the sharkbite pex fitting into the Galvanized 'T' (currently there is brass plug), the distance is only about 1.5 inches. Pex isn't that flexible.

Should I use something beside the pex? I thought about using some 90 degree corners for the pex, but those 90 degree joints won't screw into the 'T' or the shower valve because there isn't enough clearance for the valve to turn.

My first shot was to just replace the galvanized pipe, but if I do that, there still isn't enough room to slide the 'brass union fitting' into the shower valve.

here is a picture of what I'm working with:
 

Last edited by briholt; 11-09-08 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 11-09-08, 07:04 PM
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You are trying to connect the t (lower part of pic) with the brass gizmo above it, right?

How "inline" are the two?

my first thought is using iron pipe from the bottom up to a union with the male half of the union screwed onto the upper brass valve where the shark bit fitting is now.. Obviously things would need to be inline for this to work.
 
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Old 11-09-08, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
You are trying to connect the t (lower part of pic) with the brass gizmo above it, right?

How "inline" are the two?

They are very inline. the problem using any pipe (plastic or otherwise) is that the clearance to screw the pipe into the 'T' with the union ready to go at the brass valve gets in the way.

I think this is a common problem. If the Union has to be snug before putting the slip nut on, then the Union's nipple has to be on the pipe (that will go to the 't') before screwing it into the 'T'.

But if the pipe is short enough for the nipple to be inline while threading it into the 't', then the Union won't be snug enough. It seems like a catch 22.
 
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Old 11-09-08, 11:58 PM
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here is what I did

I used pex, and essentially extended these pipes (out of the picture frame) and put 4 90 degree elbows so that essentially it's a big loop.

My concern, though, is that it's still a tight fit and although none of the sharkbite fittings are leaking (the pex connectors) the union at the top is weeping. You can sort of see a little bit of water here. Believe it or not but the brass fittings are linear. Are there better sealants than teflon tape?

 
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Old 11-10-08, 04:21 AM
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You have the pex cocked in the sharkbite at top and it will probably blow out before you get to answer this post. Why not put in a 90 degree sharkbite top and bottom facing the same way and make a loop of pex and two more 90 degree sharkbites, slam it shut. Teflon tape isn't a "sealant" as much as it is an antisiezing agent although it does provide sealing properties. You may be better off using the teflon joint sealant with an in can applicator.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 07:44 AM
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Briholt - As Chandler noted, the cocked PEX joint is likely to fail. Inside the Shark Bite fitting is an O-ring that you have side loaded. It will probably leak eventually.

Teflon tape has been around for a long time as a thread sealant. If you have a leak and you put the tape on correctly the problem is not the tape.

You can buy pipe dope as a pipe sealant. I don't like it because it's messier than tape.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by briholt View Post
They are very inline. the problem using any pipe (plastic or otherwise) is that the clearance to screw the pipe into the 'T' with the union ready to go at the brass valve gets in the way.

I think this is a common problem. If the Union has to be snug before putting the slip nut on, then the Union's nipple has to be on the pipe (that will go to the 't') before screwing it into the 'T'.

But if the pipe is short enough for the nipple to be inline while threading it into the 't', then the Union won't be snug enough. It seems like a catch 22.
I don't think you understand what I suggested. You would use a proper length nipple in the "T" and then install a union (like this):



If you can turn a wrench on the fittings you have now, you could tighten the union.

You put the two halves on their respective fittings and then screw the union together.

The union I linked is a dielectric union that would be used on a water heater. They also make them in all iron.

I re-read your post and I do understand what you are saying but a bit of pre-installation thought and sometimes a bit of brute force will most likely get you to where you want to be. I can't see what is below the T so I do not know how solidly it is secured but I would bet it would move enough to get the pipe and coupling in there.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 05:07 PM
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This was my first thought, but to put the 90 degree sharkbite joints in I need more clearance for them to screw in. In other words, the wood you see chipped away behind the pipe was there because I couldn't get a wrench on the old pipe. Same problem with the elbows.

Originally Posted by chandler View Post
You have the pex cocked in the sharkbite at top and it will probably blow out before you get to answer this post. Why not put in a 90 degree sharkbite top and bottom facing the same way and make a loop of pex and two more 90 degree sharkbites, slam it shut. Teflon tape isn't a "sealant" as much as it is an antisiezing agent although it does provide sealing properties. You may be better off using the teflon joint sealant with an in can applicator.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 05:13 PM
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thanks for all your posts

believe it or not, my last pic has not failed (at least as far as the sharkbite pex is concerned)

But the union is still leaking.

so I took it all apart and tried installing pex straight up and was able to make it fit. So now there is just one 4 inch long pex pipe going up to the valve.

But the union and the top sharkbite fitting is still leaking.

I guess it's time for some of that teflon sealant. I might buy a new union for the valve, too, because when I was putting the shark fitting back into the union, it seemed to feel 'rough'..not too smooth.

Thanks again for all of your posts. I have to say the people who put the shower in as well as these pipes (they were added later) didn't make it easy. I look forward to re-doing the whole house with pex.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 05:16 PM
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This was my initial thought but I couldn't get the original pipe out of that 'T' and then I was struggling to understand how the unions work. I thought that the nipple part of the union (which screws to the pipe) had to be in direct contact with the valve above.

But it doesn't have to. Which is why the sliding nut must be clean and be tightened. I think the unions are designed exactly for my catch 22 reason.

I learned a lot about these pipes and feel pretty good about things now.

My current union has a slight leak where the sharkbite fits. I think it's because #1, my union is old and sort banged up on the threads, and #2, I only used teflon tape, not sealant.

Originally Posted by nap View Post
I don't think you understand what I suggested. You would use a proper length nipple in the "T" and then install a union (like this):



If you can turn a wrench on the fittings you have now, you could tighten the union.

You put the two halves on their respective fittings and then screw the union together.

The union I linked is a dielectric union that would be used on a water heater. They also make them in all iron.

I re-read your post and I do understand what you are saying but a bit of pre-installation thought and sometimes a bit of brute force will most likely get you to where you want to be. I can't see what is below the T so I do not know how solidly it is secured but I would bet it would move enough to get the pipe and coupling in there.
 
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Old 11-10-08, 05:59 PM
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please dont use iron pipe in a wall or any place else for water
 
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Old 11-10-08, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by barber View Post
please dont use iron pipe in a wall or any place else for water
You mean the kind his house is currently plumbed with?
 
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Old 11-10-08, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
You mean the kind his house is currently plumbed with?
I actually think it's not iron in my house, all steel (although some of the drain looks like cast iron)...
 
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Old 11-10-08, 08:15 PM
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how do unions seal?

I've had a hard time trying to explain my trouble. Imagine two shelves, one on top of the other about 3.5 inches away. Imagine that the bottom shelf has a 1/4 inch deep hole in it, mirrored above with an additional 1/4 inch hole. Now imagine a chop stick that is exactly 4 inches long and take that chopstick and stick it into both of the holes. In order to get the chopstick into the hole, you have to bend it. Hard. without anything breaking.

That's what I feel like I've been trying to do.


Part of my trouble with this project was understanding how unions work. Here is a schematic of a union fitting I found online. If you click on it, it gets big:



For my system, the pipe in the diagram on the left is essentially my shower valve. The outermost piece, or top/bottom piece, in the diagram is the sliding nut that affixes the thing on the right, what I've been calling a nipple, to the valve.

For my little story, the piece on the left is the hole in the upper shelf, and the piece on the right is the end of my chopstick.

I don't see how it is supposed to work. What part of my metaphor isn't correct? Can there be a gap between the top part of the chopstick so it can slide into place, and then the sliding nut make the seal? If so, how much of a gap is okay?
 
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Old 11-11-08, 04:02 AM
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OK, if you don't have space to turn a 90 degree elbow into the top pipe (and it will probably cost you another $30) install the top sharkbite as you have it, plug in a short piece of pex, a 90 degree elbow sharkbite, short piece of pex, another 90 degree sharkbite pointed down. From the bottom do the same, except point your 90 degree elbow upward. Then connect the last two 90 degree elbows with pex. It will be flexible enough for you to do this.
 
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Old 11-11-08, 10:09 AM
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I think you described what I did. 4 elbows. It's just that I used longer pieces of pex.

Originally Posted by chandler View Post
OK, if you don't have space to turn a 90 degree elbow into the top pipe (and it will probably cost you another $30) install the top sharkbite as you have it, plug in a short piece of pex, a 90 degree elbow sharkbite, short piece of pex, another 90 degree sharkbite pointed down. From the bottom do the same, except point your 90 degree elbow upward. Then connect the last two 90 degree elbows with pex. It will be flexible enough for you to do this.
 
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Old 11-11-08, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by briholt View Post
I actually think it's not iron in my house, all steel (although some of the drain looks like cast iron)...
Yes, technically it is steel. I have never seen potable water plumbed with actual iron.

Waste; yes but not supply.
 
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Old 11-11-08, 03:30 PM
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I understand what you are saying but;

chopsticks??

just kidding.

I have seen very little plumbing that doesn;t have some give in it. You only need enough give to offset the lower pipe 1/2 the diameter of the union. You screw the one half on the upper piece and then, if there is enough give, stress the lower pipe sideways and install the other half of the union on the nipple you installed and tighten.

then, align the union and tighten it together.


If there is absolutely no give in the lower pipe, it won't work or you may break something but rarely have I seen things that solid. It sometimes requires removing a strap or hanger that hold things in place.

I can't see the outfeed on the valve so this is merely a suggestion to look at.

Is there some reason you cannot free the valve from the tub and raise it up out of the way and install the union and reset the valve?
 
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Old 11-11-08, 06:49 PM
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The shower valve is pretty tight and the previous owner notched the other side of the 2x4 , so I don't have much to do there.

Essentially, I forced it in using the shark fittings. so that it's just a straight line up. I pretty much forced it like you described.

Where the the upper sharkbite fitting goes into the union is where it leaks now.

I'm gonna next try using teflon sealant (not the tape) and if that doesn't work, I'll have to get a new union, I think.

Thanks so much for your comments.

Originally Posted by nap View Post
I understand what you are saying but;

chopsticks??

just kidding.

I have seen very little plumbing that doesn;t have some give in it. You only need enough give to offset the lower pipe 1/2 the diameter of the union. You screw the one half on the upper piece and then, if there is enough give, stress the lower pipe sideways and install the other half of the union on the nipple you installed and tighten.

then, align the union and tighten it together.


If there is absolutely no give in the lower pipe, it won't work or you may break something but rarely have I seen things that solid. It sometimes requires removing a strap or hanger that hold things in place.

I can't see the outfeed on the valve so this is merely a suggestion to look at.

Is there some reason you cannot free the valve from the tub and raise it up out of the way and install the union and reset the valve?
 
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Old 11-16-08, 12:55 AM
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Personally, I would've measured what length nipple (brass) would make it from the tee to the mixer, removed the union (on the mixer - what is that thing in the bottom of the union?) screwed the union onto the nipple, and forced it back in, screwed it into the tee, then tightened the union. The mixer and/or piping would be forced to move about 1/4" each - which is almost always doable and won't hurt anything.

If the galvanized piping is so fragile that it can't withstand that little bit of movement, then I'm sorry to say that you've got bigger problems than you thought.
 
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Old 11-26-08, 01:11 PM
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test post test post
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