Bypass Valve Leak. Can I use thread seal?


  #1  
Old 04-19-08, 10:14 AM
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Bypass Valve Leak. Can I use thread seal?

Hi Folks,
I'm a new DIYer, and I have a basic problem. I've just installed a new Whirlpool Water Softener and its leaking from the bypass valve.

These are the connections: The white plastic bypass valve that comes with the Whirlpool machine is connected to two flexible metal (also Whirlpool branded) pipes. The pipes are used to convert the 1" male plastic threaded pipe of the bypass valve to a female 3/4". The leak occurs where the 1" male plastic threaded pipe of the bypass valve hooks into the 1" female receptacle of said pipe.

My question is: is it OK to use Thread Seal on the white plastic? The seal I have claim to work with "metals, PVC, CPVC, ABS, polyprophylene and nylon". Is the bypass valve made from any of these?

Of perhaps there is something else I can do?

Thanks,
zstier
 
  #2  
Old 04-19-08, 10:41 AM
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If those "two flexible metal (also Whirlpool branded) pipes" are what I think they are, they don't seal the threads. Look inside the ends of the flexible metal pipes and there should be flat rubber washers that seal the butted ends when screwed together.

If you do need to seal the threads then Teflon tape works wonders.

You do need to be absolutely sure you get this right... those lines are at house pressure and will blossom into a serious leak if not connected properly.

A picture would be invaluable in order to help you.
 
  #3  
Old 04-19-08, 11:55 AM
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Justalurker,

Thanks for your quick reponse. You are correct, those pipes do have flat rubber washers, but they don't seem to do the trick. Here are two pictures:

One is of a slight leak between the pipe with the rubber washer and the copper pipe.

http://picasaweb.google.com/ZBiener/...05536780494738

The other is of a leak between the pipe with the rubber washer and the bypass valve.
http://picasaweb.google.com/ZBiener/...05536780494722

Not having any experience with this stuff, I figured that using Thread Seal (the paste form, which I happen to have) in the first scenario will do the trick, but I wasn't sure if it would be appropriate in the second, because of the plastic material.

In addition, it seems that the pipes with the rubber washers also leak a bit from where the pipe itself connects to the female receptacle (you can see this on the left pipe in the picture).

Should I just get new pipes? Thanks again for your help.

zsteir
 
  #4  
Old 04-19-08, 12:25 PM
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The pics help a lot...

Those type of corrugated stainless steel pipe connectors DO NOT SEAL AT THE THREADS. They seal on the "flat ends". You could use a gallon of the greatest goop ever made and they will still leak.

You might try popping out the flat rubber washers and reversing them to show the mating surfaces of the female parts a new rubber surface.

Here are the possibilities...

1. The corrugated SS pipes are poor quality and not providing a truly flat surface to support the flat rubber washer.

2. The female threaded connections are poor quality and not truly flat on the ends providing an acceptable mating surface for the flat rubber washer to seal.

The resolution might be better quality stainless steel corrugated pipes and better quality female connectors.

The plastic piece is proprietary. I have heard of those plastic Whirlpool, Sears, GE adapters cracking and leaking but that would only cause a leak on one side of the corrugated pipe. You can take a flat file and carefully make sure the end of the threaded plastic piece is flat, that is as perpendicular to the water flow as possible so the flat rubber washer will seal.

Since you admittedly don't know what you're looking at, take all the mating parts to a Home Depot or Lowe's, even better a real hardware store, and hope they have someone there that knows more than you.

Whatever you do, don't accept any bull from anyone that says the threads are leaking.
 
  #5  
Old 04-19-08, 01:17 PM
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Terrific. Thank you. I'll let you know what happens.

zsteir
 
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Old 04-19-08, 05:11 PM
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Another possibility occurs to me... as a novice DIYer you may be so careful that you're not tightening the connections as tight as they require.

You don't strip it and back it off a half turn or pull on the wrench till you turn blue, but these rubber washer sealed connections need to be tight.

Over 40 years my elbow has become calibrated and this type connection usually requires one elbow click

Use two wrenches, one on each side of the connection and snug it up a little. Choke up on the wrenches... you don't need lots of leverage for this type connection. That might do the trick but it can't hurt to flip the rubber washers around.
 
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Old 04-20-08, 10:28 AM
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Along with the possibility that the female mating surfaces are not flat or that you're not tightening up the connection adequately another I remembered something else...

If you look at either end of the corrugated SS pipes and remove the rubber washer you'll see that the pipe passes through the nut and is expanded to make the physical connection.

As good as those corrugated stainless steel pipes are, and the Falcon Stainless are among the best, I have seen instances where rough handling in packaging, shipping, shelving, or installation has bent or kinked them at the nut causing leaks. Inspect those areas carefully.

Since you have multiple leaks at different connections I don't think that is the problem here. I think you're (understandably) reluctant to tighten the connections enough. Since you don't have spares of those proprietary plastic nipples in hand you are in a tough spot.

Your situation is a great example of why buying industry standard water softeners is a better idea than buying a pre-built box store softener. Industry standard softeners use readily available plumbing hardware and not proprietary, and poorly designed, plumbing fittings.

Let us know what you find and hopefully we can help you find a solution to this problem.
 
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Old 04-20-08, 12:43 PM
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You were right on the money. Further tightening did the trick. I didn't even flip the washers around, just put more muscle into it.

Thanks for you help. You've saved me a great headache, and I'm a little bit more competent now...

In the future, I will follow your advice and get the industry standard softener, but hopefully, not for a decade or so...
 
  #9  
Old 04-20-08, 12:56 PM
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Happy to help and pleased the problem was solved.
 
 

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