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Emergency Situation - Pinhole Breech on Copper - Active Hydronic Heating System

Emergency Situation - Pinhole Breech on Copper - Active Hydronic Heating System

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Old 12-12-13, 11:18 AM
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Emergency Situation - Pinhole Breech on Copper - Active Hydronic Heating System

We have contractors here who unknowingly put a screw through a pipe in the wall that is a feed for the hydronic heating system.

I have access to the breech - pinhole from the screw tip. Can I use a sharkbite solution or some other coupling concept to patch, or do I need to cut this section out completely and repair?

My system is 4 zones, and runs under about 35psi as normal, cast iron boiler

It's -4 outside right now.
 
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Old 12-12-13, 11:28 AM
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With a pinhole you can wrap a piece of rubber and use a hose clamp as a temporary patch.

In order to fix the problem you're going to need to shut down the boiler, let it cool and at least partially drain it. You might want to wait for the outside temp to increase.

Ideally the best repair job would be made with a solder type stopless copper coupler. You'd make a cut right at the pinhole and install the coupler there.

Personally....I wouldn't use a sharkbite fitting if it gets hidden, like inside a wall
 
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Old 12-12-13, 11:47 AM
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Maybe you don't need to cut the pipe.

If it's copper pipe and just a pin hole size you can most probably just heat the pipe (using flux of course) and apply solder and capillary action will draw it in and seal it. I've done this on several occasion with good results.
 
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Old 12-18-13, 11:51 AM
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Red face

Thanks everyone. Yes, the pipe is/was buried in a wall, so the Sharkbite option would have been only a temporary solution. It's not likely wise to use a Sharkbite under these circumstances (so says a hydronics expert that I finally got a hold of, who, as it so happens, has actually worked on our system) as the gaskets wear out eventually, (especially on a heating system).

I was also concerned of steam escaping at some point. This boiler heats the water to 220 under 35psi and runs non stop from late Nov to April. Around here we hit -40 lows for 10 weeks straight, not rising above 0 at the heat of the day.

I didn't feel like any solution other than to cut the pipe and solder on a coupler was an option, so we drained part of the system at the boiler, and then sucked out what was localized at the breech with the shop vac. The entire system only holds about 13 gallons of water, but when it's under pressure and hot, it's intimidating.

I was able to sweat the coupler into place, in spite of the pipes still being somewhat wet at the site, and thanks to a little bit of luck, solved the damage relatively easily.

The harder part is then bleeding our system... Our heating system encompasses 4 zones, a commercial size boiler, and auto air-letting valve. However, there is a bit of manual bleeding still necessary, for which I lack the skill or patience. Unfortunately, I had to request my other half leave his work and make an emergency trip back home to assist (as he is quite adept at this task).

It took us about 5 hours, start to finish, but our house is well insulated and the system resumed nicely. I have left the repair exposed for the last week, to make certain I won't have a nice flood to contend with again. I will be making a detailed map of the pipes within the walls for future use, and try very hard to remind any contractors ahead of time.

Thanks everyone for your assistance!
 
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Old 12-19-13, 01:08 AM
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Awesome job Angie
 
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Old 12-19-13, 01:51 PM
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hi Angie –

I’m just a newbie so take everything I say with a grain of salt (LOL) – but are you sure those temperature and pressure readings are correct? 220 and 35 psi sounds way too high.

Maybe I’m all wrong but the “Boilers” forum here has some amazingly knowledgeable people if you would care to run that by them. Just a thought!

Glad you got it fixed! ( -40 wow. I worked up in Red Deer Alberta for a while on the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor . A real experience for a Philly guy used to moderate temps.)
 
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