Nail prick in polybutylene pipe repair

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Old 01-08-13, 08:36 AM
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Nail prick in polybutylene pipe repair

Hello,

This month, I discovered that a polybutylene pipe in an interior wall running to the second floor was leaking. The problem was an errant nail from the baseboard install missed a stud and nicked the pipe. The pipe has been leaking for 16 years. Iíve opened everything up and am replacing rotted subfloor and floor joist repair. The leak is REALLY SLOW. Iím guessing a drop of water a minute (maybe a gallon every 2 months). It was so slow, I was never able to see any issue from the crawl space, thus the reason it went undetected so long.
My plan is to repair this leak somehow. I DO NOT want to cut the pipe and put in a joint. My research with polybutylene is the joints are the 90% of the problem. In this case, a joint would be more risky than a repair. I literally can wrap a piece of scotch tape around the pipe and stop the leak (that is how slow and no pressure behind it). So here is my plan(s);
  1. Take some automotive hose with ID same and pipe OD and repair with this and a hose clamp.
  2. Take some PVC (ID same and pipe OD) and solvent weld a half collar to the pipe along with hose clamp.

I know number #1 will work. For #2, Iím not sure the effects of PVC glue on PB pipe (and I do not have any scrap PB pipe to run a test on).
I know this is a non standard repair and no plumber would do it (because it is non-standard). But since this is not a failure of the pipe per se, I see no reason to replace the pipe or go to drastic measure and put in a joint. Arguments?

mark
 
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Old 01-08-13, 08:59 AM
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This is the one time I would consider a shark bite fitting. I would in no way put a band aid on it. Though I dislike shark bites, and the fact you do not want to replace the whole line, its the most sensible option IMO.

Not sure of the OD but if you could mate CPVC to the PB with a glue joint that would be best. Need to make sure you find compatible glue/primer
 
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Old 01-08-13, 01:18 PM
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My research with polybutylene is the joints are the 90% of the problem.
It wasn't the joints, but the manner in which the rings were attached.....sloppily at best.

Not sure how you are going to make a repair if you adamantly refuse to include a joint. As Mike said, a bandaid on heart surgery won't work. If you cut the PB, will you have room to move it into a joint, whether it be a barbed PB fitting or sharkbite? Sharkbites are the best thing since the invention of bread. Sorry, Mike. They are way too expensive to plumb with, but for repairs, they save the day, IMO.
 
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Old 01-08-13, 05:19 PM
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Thank you guys for your advice.

Here is my thought process on why I do not want to cut the pipe and put in a joint. This is my engineer mind talking and I'd like your serious feedback.

Right now I have a pinhole leak in my pipe of maybe a 1/1000th of an inch that needs to be sealed. IF I cut the 1/2" pipe, I now have a circumference of 1.57" of pipe (2*pi*r) that will need to be sealed to the fitting, plus the same 1.57" on the other side of the pipe to the fitting. So logic tells me that sealing the pinhole is a much lower risk that cutting a pipe and having a good seal to the fitting. I mean, what is a fitting really? You are basically clamping the pipe to the fitting to create a leak tight seal. So how is that any different than clamping a pipe clamp to the pinhole? You are basically using compression to create a leak tight seal. So given that, I rather seal only 1/1000 of an inch than 3.14" of pipe. Do you follow my logic?

If the pipe where damaged, cracked, crushed, etc, then I would definitely cut out the bad area and put in a joint. But it is a pinhole caused by a nail. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why a pipe clamp would not be just as good if not better that putting in a joint. If I put the clamp in and it does not leak, why would that be considered a bandaid that would not work? What in that solution has a higher risk of failing than putting in a joint?

Thank you guys for listening to my logic.

mark
 
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Old 01-08-13, 07:08 PM
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Like all engineers, you have severely over thought and over rationalized your position. The reason trying to put a bandaid on the tiny leak is worse than using a fitting is because the piping system was designed to function with fittings. The fittings are engineered to not leak with that pipe. The solution you proposed is something you dreamed up in your head with materials that were not made to function with the product.

You have received very good professional advice on this plumbing repair. Use it wisely.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 05:40 AM
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Engineering aside, think Physics. As droo said, the pipe is made to be connected with fittings, even repaired with fittings. It's the nature of the game. You're gonna cover up the pipe when you are through, right? How will you know when it leaks again......and it will. More money down the drain.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 06:47 AM
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Like all engineers, you have severely over thought and over rationalized your position.
Love it....and I do respect your opinion..that is why I posted here.

Of course the pipe was designed (by over thinking and over rationalizing engineers, mind you) to function with fittings. Why? Because that is the only way you can plumb a house. You need fittings to join pipe. But that doesn't mean the correct way to repair a pinhole in a pipe is to put in a fitting, does it? That just means if you need to join 2 pieces of pipe, you should should the correctly designed fittings for that pipe, or it would leak. But I'm not trying to join two pieces of pipe together; I'm trying to seal a pinhole with a force of about 0.001 PSIG behind it.

To say I'm gonna cover it up and how will I know it's not gonna leak again? Well, how am I gonna know the fitting isn't gonna leak in the future. Already someone has said sharkbites can leak..another said they are great. (FYI, I plan to wrap plastic sheathing around the pipe from the clamp area down to the crawl space. IF it ever leaks in the future, I'll have some tell-tell dripping to see).

I'm not here to argue with you guys, really. You know the plumbing business much more than I. But still, no one has told me what can fail in the future with a pipe clamp, that wouldn't be the case with a fitting. From your many years of experience, tell me what physically would happen to cause it to leak in the future.

Thanks

Mark
 
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Old 01-09-13, 07:42 AM
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You certainly would not provide spec sheets to an architect showing such an engineering faux pas, would you? "Oh, just duct tape and bubble gum it to death...it'll hold. If it doesn't, we have the plastic wrap to trailer it down to a bucket with an alarm in it."

Fittings are constructed not to fail. Sure you have manufacturing defects. There's no need to build a repair from a defect to begin with, as you propose.

What will physically happen? The rupture can enlarge due to the penetration. You have violated the integrity of the encapsulation. I'm not saying it WILL happen, but properly repaired, you won't be as likely to have problems you are obviously going to have.

What will physically happen? Your repair only covers the hole. Water can leak around your repair. I know you have a plan B with the Saran Wrap, but is that "fixing" it, really?

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 03:35 PM
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You propose a "patch" not a long term solution. If you are so afraid of the fittings, you better move to another house, because there are probably a hundred or so fittings already installed in your house.

But you seem set in your ways, not sure what other suggestions made by people in the business (myself included) will satisfy you. You obviously want to hear an answer that you came up with, not the correct thing to do.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 04:06 PM
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The poly pipe

You mentioned that there was no pressure from the nail leak. When you put a patch over a a pipe with 40 to 60 PSI, as the leak continues to come out, hoverever slow, it will build up to whatever pressure is in that pipe. A patch will not work. Listen to the pros, they have the expierience needed to advise againsed patches.
Sid
 
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Old 01-09-13, 05:19 PM
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It wasn't the joints, but the manner in which the rings were attached.....sloppily at best.


Is that true chandler? I thought there was(is) a raging debate :

bad concept vs bad installations? You know tons more than me but I figured it must be a bad concept, because why would so many plumbers, who weren't accused of sloppy work before, all of a sudden change their stripes and become "hack slobs"?

Just sayin! LOL


 
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Old 01-09-13, 06:47 PM
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Just put a patch on it. If you are lucky you can fix the same damage you have in 16 years.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 06:52 PM
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Is that true chandler? I thought there was(is) a raging debate
No it's class action, now with Polybutylene. Most of the leaks weren't occurring in the pipe itself but at the joints. I am not a pro in the PB business, but have to hook onto existing PB when adding shower units, etc, since the house is already piped with PB. Even PEX to PB connectors are distinctly different. With PEX, the tool has a GO-NoGO gauge you use with the crimps. It also has a calibration tool so you can keep it doing it's job. I don't think PB had that much criteria built into their installation process.
 
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Old 01-09-13, 07:07 PM
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I would also like to point out, the products you intend to use for your patch are not ok for potable water.

The risk of using a fitting is known. The risk of your patch is not known. Wouldn't you consider an unknown risk to be far riskier than a known risk?
 
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Old 01-10-13, 06:43 AM
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When you put a patch over a a pipe with 40 to 60 PSI, as the leak continues to come out, hoverever slow, it will build up to whatever pressure is in that pipe.


Ahhh...now that was what I was looking for. A logical, physical reason why a patch might not be a good solution. You are correct sir, and something I did not account for. Thank You!!

So no, I'm not afraid of fittings. Apparently the plumber was, because all the fittings are in my crawl space and there are extra pipes running up the wall. So why would a plumber running a totally separate line up the wall just for a toilet and not tee off the sink lines? Well, I'm guessing he didn't want a fitting in the wall. I guess he was afraid that fittings can leak and pipe usually doesn't. Least that is my guess.

So let me ask this if I may. I have 3 pipes running up this wall. (Hot/Cold for sinks, and cold for toilet).

Pipe #1 is the one I've been talking about, leaking for 16 years, and caused all the rot.
Pipe #2 was also hit with a nail. This nail grazed the pipe and left a slight scratch mark.
Pipe #3 was also hit with a nail. This pipe had some spooge running down from the nail hit, but then appears to have self sealed.

My coworker has some PB crimpers and fittings, so I can put a union in Pipe #1 as you suggest. Pipe #2 I plan to just leave alone. Pipe #3 I'm not sure what to do. I should note that Pipe #3 was also hit by a chair rail nail. I only opened up the wall board up to the chair rail, so right now I could not get a crimper on that pipe.

For all three pipes, I plan to wrap in plastic (Saran Wrap as one of you so called it). The idea here is if the pipes leak in the future, I'll know right away by dripping in the crawl space. Then I can open up the wall again and fix it without any rot damage.

Thanks for your help

Mark
 
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Old 01-10-13, 07:24 AM
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This is a lot to read but will tell you all you need to know about PB piping and the lawsuit. I would not worry about the plastic wrap... When one of your pipes decides to let go, you will know it... Your probably see a waterfall ... and hopefully you will be home to minimize the damage.....


If it were myself I would rip it all out and repipe asap....


http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand...MR969.ch14.pdf
 
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Old 01-10-13, 08:45 AM
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Pipe #1 is the one I've been talking about, leaking for 16 years, and caused all the rot.
Pipe #2 was also hit with a nail. This nail grazed the pipe and left a slight scratch mark.
Pipe #3 was also hit with a nail. This pipe had some spooge running down from the nail hit, but then appears to have self sealed.


OK guys -

Tell me why copper isn't better (not cheaper) than all the plastic stuff! (OK - so I am a newbie with little knowledge, but...)

 
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Old 01-10-13, 09:54 AM
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OK guys -

Tell me why copper isn't better (not cheaper) than all the plastic stuff! (OK - so I am a newbie with little knowledge, but...)

Labor!!!!!!!!!

------------------------------------------
 
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Old 01-10-13, 10:04 AM
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I think every plumbing product has problems, copper included. When I bought my house, I knew it had PB. But it was mfg'd in 1996 and had the metal fittings. My inspector warned me of the class action lawsuit, but he had to. He also told me "I wouldn't worry about it". From all my research, it looks like the pipes themselves are generally fine; it was the plastic fittings and poor installation that accounted for all the problems. Take that away, and maybe the failure rate is in par with copper and PEX now. The fact that I have problems with a pipe is due to poor carpenters, not the pipe. Yes, I could rip it out and put in PEX (or whatever). But in 10 years, maybe everyone says PEX is bad and rip it out. Whatever. What I do know is that lawyers and media can blow things out of proportion. When PB got such a bad rap, then maybe the easiest and cheapest thing to do is pull it off the market. Once you pull it off the market, then it just is another red flag to people (ohh, they don't use it anymore, it must be horrible). Plumbing companies wanting business jump on the bandwagon now; "replace it, it is just a matter of time when it bursts"

I want to put the plastic wrap around it because I'm not worried about the burst pipe...I'm worried about a slow leak from that fitting I put in that goes undetected over the years.

Mark
 
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