Leaking pipe in basement. Need advice how to fix


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Old 05-23-16, 11:52 AM
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Leaking pipe in basement. Need advice how to fix

Hi everyone!

I have a pipe in my basement that is the supply line to the toilet on the main floor and it was dripping very slowly at about 1 drop per minute which I was able to keep a bucket under without too much hassle. But after months of this, I decided to try fixing it, hoping I wouldn't make it worse. Well, I tried tightening it, but I guess I turned the connector the wrong way because then the water started coming out faster. So I turned it back the other way and it got even worse. After turning off the water main for the whole house, I decided to remove the connector all the way to see what was underneath. I have a picture of before I started and also how it is now so you guys can see what I have and hopefully show me how to put it back together without leaks.

Here is what it looked like originally, complete with a drop of water on it ready to fall:



And here it is the way it is right now. There is a flange on the pipe to the right which is able to be moved around. I haven't tried removing it yet because I don't know if that's the right thing to do yet. I'll wait until I get a response before proceeding:



You can click the image and then click the "+" symbol to see them larger. It helps to show the details, especially on the second picture.
 

Last edited by BWwhite; 05-23-16 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 05-23-16, 12:20 PM
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That is a simple compression fitting that should go together and tighten up. If it still leaks pipe on right side near the sleeve may be cracked and a small section of that pipe will have to be replaced. Pretty easy to do with shark bite fittings. Looks like copper on both sides so a short piece of pipe and 2 coupler fittings and 10 minutes and will be fixed.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 12:39 PM
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If it is cracked (not sure what would cause that), could some kind of tape or filler be used to seal it before fitting the pipes back together? I don't have a way of cutting pipes, which is something I'd have to leave to a plumber, which is why I hope to avoid doing that. Could something be used to repair, or fill in the crack? This crack would have to be very tiny, considering how slow the leak originally was.
 
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Old 05-23-16, 01:04 PM
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Sorry, but the only fix is replacement. You can buy a small tubing cutter for about ten dollars and DIY. Using Sharkbite fittings is the easiest but also the most expensive as the fittings themselves are about four or five dollars each and you will need two as well as a short piece of copper pipe.

The cheap compression unions (that is what the fitting you have is called) available these days are just plain crap. I was re-connecting my bathtub one evening and I didn't want to use a torch in the crawlspace so I used compression unions. After fighting leaks for about two hours I finally said to heck with it, took my torch down there and was done in five minutes.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 06:13 AM
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Shark Bites not going to work because there's no way to make the connection in the middle of a run, one side needs to be able to move to slide the fittings together.
The right way to fix this would be to cut out that whole section about 6 or more inches, clean the pipes, and install a short section of new tubing and two copper repair couplings and solder it.
A repair coupling has no hub in the center of it so it can slip right over the pipe.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 06:34 AM
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Sharkbite makes repair couplings, they call them slip couplings. Below are the instructions from the website. You will need a removal tool, which don't cost much. I don't know if you will find the slip couplings at a hardware store, probably need to go to a plumbing store.

Slip Couplings – can be used to fix burst copper pipes. Simply remove the damaged section of pipe up to a maximum of 2” or 50mm, slide the end of the coupling marked ‘SLIP END’ over the copper as far as it will go, and then use a disconnect clip to slide it back over the adjoining piece of copper making sure they reach the correct depth.

A head's up for others: Most push-on fittings can be used on all types of pipe, Copper, PEX, etc.
The slip couplings are for copper only.... No PEX.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 10:49 AM
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I wish I was familiar with all these things, but I'm not. I was hoping I could just replace something like the flange and then bolt it all back together. I may have to go to Menards and talk to a salesman what these things are that you're referring to. I'll print what you said and also my pics and hopefully they'll understand. When it comes to things like cutting pipes, I'm not experienced and don't have the tools for that.

Do you have any idea what would cause this to leak in the first place? Finding the cause is the first step to finding the solution.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 11:01 AM
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Do you have any idea what would cause this to leak in the first place?
Yes, as I stated in my earlier reply it is the use of cheap (read imported from a Communistic Asian country) fittings that are poorly made and less than extreme care used when fitting the pieces together.

Back some thirty or more years ago the brass compression couplings were made in America to some pretty tight standards. It was almost impossible to make the connection wrong. With the junk sold by most of the "big box mega-mart homecenters" today it is hard to get the joints to not leak unless you are extremely careful. Seldom would a professional plumber use a compression fitting in that situation so I can only think it was done by a homeowner or handyman that had little experience with the cheap fittings.

Be forewarned, most of the sales associates at the homecenters do NOT have real world experience with the items they sell. They will tell you almost anything to make a sale, sometimes outright lies but most of the time their ignorance on the subject simply means they flat out don't know but they can't admit it to the customer. Every once in a while you will find a retired journeyman (woman) working in the department but it is rare.
 
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Old 05-24-16, 12:03 PM
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Would it be worth a try for BW to clean the end of the pipe with emery cloth and see if that ferrule will slip off, and if so put on a new ferrule and tighten it back up and see what happens?
 
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Old 05-24-16, 12:33 PM
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In my opinion it would be a waste of time. The problem is that the fittings that are readily available are just too sloppy and now that the tubing has been slightly deformed it would be almost impossible to get anything to seal.
 
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Old 05-25-16, 10:47 AM
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Well folks, I put it all back together, and I even used teflon tape around the threads of the pipe, and I also put one around the ferrule. I know that part wasn't something that was mentioned to do, but since it does have a couple scratches on it, I thought maybe the tape would seal those. Nope! When I put the nut back on, the teflon tape shredded off the threads as I screwed it on. Turned on the water main and the leak is as bad as it was originally. Leaks about a gallon of water every 10 minutes. So I remain at square one.

Later today, I plan to go to Menards and look for the things mentioned by you guys. New ferrule, shark bite thing, and maybe pipe cutter. I don't know what else to do at this point. But the pipe itself isn't damaged or deformed, so couldn't a new ferrule work?
 
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Old 05-25-16, 11:11 AM
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In order to figure out the easiest way for you to fix this, I need to know one thing:

How rigid is the pipe?
In the picture, it looks like you can separate the ends by at least 3/8" or so.
Without any cutting (yet), how far can you separate the ends just by moving the pipes?
 
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Old 05-25-16, 11:31 AM
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Why do I even bother?
 
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Old 05-26-16, 09:11 AM
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Why do I even bother?
Chasing your tail Joel?


Soldering is quite easy once you get the hang of it. Here's a video that shows a fairly good job, bit messy, but you'll get it.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqhmKshcPt0
 
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Old 05-26-16, 11:36 AM
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I can move the pipe on the left 1 1/4" back and forth. The pipe on the left can't move at all.

I ended up going to Menards and asked a salesman about ferrules and where they were. He (just like others here) told me about using a Sharkbite type fitting. He then showed me where they were. It wasn't even the sharkbite brand, but a company called Watts. I asked if they had any Sharkbite brand ones and he said they didn't, but that this is a better version of it. Turns out it's made in China, which is known the world over for their quality products. He also showed me the pipe cutters and how to use one. It was made in Taiwan, and has instructions that use the word "and" in place of the word "an". This gives me confidence that they spend more time making qauality products rather than worrying about spelling and grammar.

Here's a picture of everything I got. I don't even know what the black plastic pieces are since the instructions don't say anything about them.

I plan to try installing this thing tonight, although I have no idea how the plastic pieces on the end of the tube will form a tight seal around the pipe enough to prevent it from leaking.

 
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Old 05-26-16, 11:46 AM
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The black pieces are to release the fitting if you ever have to take it off. Are there any clamps holding the pipe you can't move? You are going to need some room to cut it pipe. There is a seal inside.
 
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Old 05-26-16, 11:50 AM
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There is a clamp on the right one, but it doesn't keep the pipe from moving back and forth. It just keeps the pipe up near the ceiling so it doesn't sag down. But the area where I took the pictures where the leak is is very near where the pipe (to the right) goes up into the ceiling. That's what keeps it so rigid. But the one on the left moves 1 1/4". Is that enough to allow me to install the "shark bite" fitting?

Thanks for the info about those clamps. I won't worry about them then unless I need to remove the fitting. It's nice to know I can do that.
 
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Old 05-26-16, 12:22 PM
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The fitting will seal if installed properly. You will have to refer to the instructions as far as how wide of a gap to cut in the pipe.

I haven't used this brand, however I think the black pieces in the bag are not removal tools. The black pieces are collet locks. Once you have the fitting in place, the locks go at the ends of the fittings. The locks prevent the end Black flanges from being pushed in, which will unlock the fitting and let it slide off the pipe.

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Old 05-26-16, 12:30 PM
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Ok, that makes sense about those collet locks! I'll make sure to put those on there after installation, although it's highly unlikely anyone would be accidently reaching up there and pressing on the fittings and causing the whole thing to fall off. Unfortunately, the instructions are rather vague and don't mention anything about how wide of a gap to leave. I guess what I'll do is cut off up to the threaded parts of the pipes and then try putting the tube in between them and only cut off more pipe if it won't fit. Better to cut off too little than too much.

Truth be told--I'm really nervous about doing this because right now I can thread the pipes together as it is and just have about a gallon of water leaking out every 10 minutes or so, which I can collect in a bucket. But once I cut the pipes, there's no turning back--and there's also no turning the water main back on until a plumber fixes everything, assuming I screw up. It would be different if the toilet water supply line had a shut off valve further back, but it doesn't.
 
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Old 05-26-16, 01:01 PM
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page 9 of this document is for your fitting and gives details of how to do the job. I think cutting the copper with the tubing cutter will be really easy, but if you happened to have a scrap piece around you could make a cut on a scrap piece first. I think you will see how easy it is.

Looks like Watts calls those black things push rings. I'm no expert but I believe Watts makes pretty good products so you will probably be good with the Watts instead of the Sharkbite brand.

http://media.wattswater.com/PL-Quickconnect.pdf
 
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Old 05-26-16, 01:03 PM
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I will try to explain. If you mess this up a plumber can fix it in no time.

Cut the left and right pipes at the yellow lines, just behind each ferrule (compression ring). Use a hack saw if need be rather than the tubing cutter.
Use emery cloth to clean the pipe and remove all burrs, inside and out.

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- Work from the left. Slide the fitting end marked "slip end" (or whatever Watts calls the slip end) over the left pipe. Push the fitting onto the pipe as far as it will go.

- The fitting will now be locked onto the left pipe, even without using the clips.
You must unlock the fitting by pushing on the left end collet. At the same time, you will push or pull the fitting to the right, locking the opposite end onto the right pipe.

Here's the basic principal:
When you push the fitting onto the right pipe, it will go on to a depth of about 7/8". When you push the fitting onto the left pipe, it will go to a depth of unknown (I guess at least 2").
The right side must be fully seated at approximately 7/8", the left side is where they allowed for play.

-
 
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Old 05-26-16, 01:06 PM
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That makes perfect sense now! Thank you for showing me that--I'll get to work on it tonight and probably end up wondering why I obsessed about it so much!
 
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Old 05-26-16, 02:22 PM
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After cutting and cleaning the pipes, take the time to make marks on the pipe using a pencil or a marker.

I would make marks on the right non-slip end at 3/4", 7/8" and 1". On the left I would mark at 1" and 2".
Once you slide the fitting on and push it to the right, you don't want to guess if it seated far enough.
The marks will tell you both ends are seated far enough.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 10:48 AM
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It turned out that no cutting was needed. There was only supposed to be a maximum of 2" of space between the pipes when putting this fitting on, and there already wasn't much less than that. As for seating, I couldn't get it to seat on the right side no matter where I placed it. But here's what happened from the beginning...

It didn't go well at all. I got the compression fitting parts completely off and was going to cut the pipes with the pipe cutter, but there didn't seem to be a reason to do so. I thought there was going to be threaded ends on the pipes that would need to be cut off, but there weren't. So I made sure the pipes were clean and had no burrs, and then slid the Watts (sharkbite) fitting onto the left pipe until it stopped. Then I attached the right pipe and slid the fitting over a little to get it onto the right pipe. After this, I noticed that the whole assembly felt very flimsy. Not rigid at all. But I didn't see anything else I could do. I followed the advice I've been given here and on videos perfectly. Then I turned on the water main and watched as water sprayed out through the right side of the fitting around the pipe. Then I ran over to it and tried sliding the fitting further to the right to stop the leak. It didn't help. I slid it even further to the right and then it started spraying water from the left side as well. Then I shut off the water main because I couldn't stop the water from gushing out. Even after that, water continued gushing out for a few minutes. So now there's a lot of water damage that I'm still trying to deal with. At this point, I don't know what else to do. I took the fitting back off and took a couple pictures to show everyone what I have now. Notice the 2 pipes aren't even lined up with each other, which didn't create any problems when there was a compression fitting there for at least the 17 years I've owned the house. The pipes were rigid then too, not flimsy and easily moved around such as when I put the sharkbite fitting on it. So what is it that I did wrong?



 
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Old 05-27-16, 11:18 AM
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Pipes need to be clean to seal. a piece of sand paper around pipe till it is shinny.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 11:22 AM
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I did that around the ends to make sure there was no debris or burrs left. I didn't do it on the rest of the pipe because I was afraid it was make little scratches on the pipe that would cause it not to seal. But I guess I'll try it.
About the fact that the whole assembly was so wobbly and flimsy--is that normal? It seems like that would affect the seal as well. Shouldn't it all be nice and rigid when it's all put together? I've never done this before, so I don't know.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 11:27 AM
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Put another clamp close to joint after leak stops.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 11:31 AM
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Clamp? Are you referring to those 2 plastic pieces that came with the sharkbite fitting? Those are supposed to be placed inside the 2 plastic rings at either side of the fitting to keep them from being pushed in and cause the fitting to move. Is that what you're referring to? I didn't put those in because I wanted to make sure the fitting was in place and not leaking before putting those in. But are those the clamps that are supposed to be put in before even turning the water on?
 
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Old 05-27-16, 11:52 AM
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The pipe is probably out of round from the compression fittings. You'll have to go buy another fitting, some copper pipe around 12" long, cut on each side so you have virgin pipe that's nice and round. Get some steel wool too, good for cleaning the pipe.

Do the math so it all fits and put it back together. Good luck!
 
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Old 05-27-16, 12:00 PM
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So now I have to buy a second fitting and do this a second time in a second location? I can't even get the first one to work. I just want to get this put together so I can have water service in my home again and be able to take a shower and flush the toilet normally sometime before next week. Besides, there isn't even 12" left of straight pipe in that direction to do what you're suggesting. In less than 12" from the current fitting, the pipe angles upward at a 90 degree angle into the ceiling.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 12:04 PM
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In the most recent picture we can see how far the pipes can separate, but not how far they can close together.

You have to understand I can't find the instructions for a Watts fitting, but the fittings are almost identical to sharkbite. The sharkbite says a gap of a maximum of 2" can be closed.

The right pipe looks deformed due to an overtightened compression ring.
Can you cut the right pipe back about 3/4 to 1" and still maintain a gap in the pipe of about 2".
 
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Old 05-27-16, 12:18 PM
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If I cut it that much, it will be extremely close to giving me that 2" maximum gap. I didn't want to cut off so much that I have no leeway. Right now, the 2 pipes can come together, barely. I could cut maybe about what you said, but it would be very, very close to not allowing for a 2" maximum separation.
When I look at it myself in person, the right pipe doesn't appear to be deformed.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 12:35 PM
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Guys I posted the exact instructions for that fitting back on post #20.

whoops! That's not it? I'll find it again.

Yes it is - page 7 not page 9. Sorry about that!


I’ve used Sharkbites (like the Watts) and the pipes don’t have to be perfect without scratches. When you are working on the right side the pipe has to be pushed in as far as you can get it into the fitting. It sounds like maybe you just pushed in just a little bit. That would not be correct.

If you look at the insertion depth mark they refer to on page 7, that’s how far the right pipe should be pushed into the fitting when you are done. So what you can do is put a mark on the right pipe at that depth, then you can tell whether the pipe is pushed into the fitting far enough.

I believe those fittings do allow the fitting to spin. So you will be able to rotate even when it’s on the pipe properly. But it should be rigid along the pipe line.

I wouldn’t buy a new fitting. There is no reason the one you have should not work.

Did you push those push ring clips in as they outline on page 7?

(You have to make sure the pipe is pushed far enough in the left side also.)
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 05-27-16 at 01:04 PM. Reason: added I've used .....
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Old 05-27-16, 12:46 PM
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5. Insert push ring clips.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 01:05 PM
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I really think he'll have to cut off where the compression fittings were, maybe a little more, then add a short coupling, new pipe and his 2" fitting.

BW, I only mentioned 12" so you can cut out what's needed and have enough pipe to reconnect. Nothing worse in plumbing than being short.

Here's a clumsy video showing what I'm talking about only you will only use a short connector for two pipes, not a valve.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npOXlje-skA
 
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Old 05-27-16, 01:18 PM
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Or......if all else fails, and it is a holiday weekend, go buy a shut-off valve and slide on there. You can flush the commode with a bucket.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 01:22 PM
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Could be the pipe wonít work with the fitting now, but I definitely would try to insert the pipes to the proper depth in the fitting and use those clips (whatever they are, I donít understand how they would work, but those are the instructions).

Then I attached the right pipe and slid the fitting over a little to get it onto the right pipe. After this, I noticed that the whole assembly felt very flimsy. Not rigid at all. But I didn't see anything else I could do. I followed the advice I've been given here and on videos perfectly. Then I turned on the water main and watched as water sprayed out through the right side of the fitting around the pipe. Then I ran over to it and tried sliding the fitting further to the right to stop the leak. It didn't help. I slid it even further to the right and then it started spraying water from the left side as well
.

That certainly sounds like BW was not doing it correctly in terms of inserting the pipes to the right depth. That was more trial and error. Maybe if the clips are NOT added the pipes will pull apart and leak and that's what happened.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 01:42 PM
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I was thinking of putting a shutoff valve on it, but I see no way of doing that now without there being a threaded end on the pipe. I've been using buckets to flush the toilet for over a week now. But I'd still like to take a shower before next Tuesday. Without these 2 pipes put together, I can't even have the water main turned on.

I haven't used the push rings yet (putting on push rings). I thought they were to be put in after it was determined that the fitting was on properly and wasn't going to need adjustment. Haven't gotten to that point yet.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 02:14 PM
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I was thinking of putting a shutoff valve on it, but I see no way of doing that now without there being a threaded end on the pipe.
They make Sharkbite valves.

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The valve may also be an advantage if it requires more than 2" (not sure)because you need to cut enough off each pipe to get to good pipe.
 
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Old 05-27-16, 02:19 PM
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BW I just at this moment was ready to post the following paragraphs and saw your post. I think I see what they mean about the clip.


Well I’m confused. If you look at this video there is no special clip other than the removal tool, which is just like the Sharkbite removal method. You place the clip (removal tool) around the pipe and push in towards the collar to release the fitting from the pipe. That’s how Sharkbites work – only their removal clip (tool) is bright orange.

Oh, maybe I see how it works. If you use the removal tool (push ring clip?) and don’t use it to remove the fitting, but instead place the clip in the space between the push ring and the body of the fitting after the pipes are into the fitting in place.Then the clip becomes sort of a lock. You wouldn’t be able to push the push ring in and release the fitting with the clip in that position.

Maybe that’s what they mean in step 5 on page 7.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahsrMCdmjq4


I really think your problem is that you just didn't insert the pipes far enough into the fitting. They MUST be pushed in BOTH ends as far as they can go. The only reason to put marks on the pipe is to make sure the pipes are in all the way. If you didn't do that it will NOT WORK. In part of the way is NO GOOD!!!
If you haven't tried that yet I fear you may be going off on a tangent.
 
 

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