Can you snake a 1/2" ID galvanized pipe?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by HANDYHACKERinFL, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. HANDYHACKERinFL

    HANDYHACKERinFL New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Florida
    I have a cold water supply pipe clogged with rust and mineral deposits. Its reduced to a dribble. The toilet and tub in the same bathroom are flowing fine. I removed the shut off valve, and inserted some wire into the pipe, but I cant get it past the 45 bend about 6" into the wall. Is there a snake that will negotiate this corner, hopefully 2-3 feet into the pipe? Or do I have to be a plumber, crawl into the crawl space with the spiders, remove the back wall of the vanity, and replace the pipe? Or fish a flexible supply through the wall and floor to the basement where I can make a new connection and cap off the old one?

    The threads on this pipe are referred to as 3/8. But the pipe looks like 1/2 copper diameter. Looks like 1/2 ID.
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    I know of no snake that will do that. A snake will, at its best, clear a clogged drain, but the crud in a galvanized pipe is too hard and attached to firmly to clear. If you have other galvanized pipe in your home, it is going to be just as bad, so you are faced with a repiping job in the near future. Flex lines are not supposed to be used where they are concealed, so other than a very temporary fix, that is not a good option. If you want to do just the necessary work, I'd suggest going with new copper pipes from the bathroom to the crawl space. Tie it on to the line there. That way when you repipe, that much is done. Lots of people with older homes are facing this same problem with their old galvanized pipes. It's what we had back then, but now the rust and corrosion is catching up with us. Sad to say, especially with the cost of copper now, but that's what you're facing.
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    You can probably replace a length of galvanized pipe with 3/4" CPVC about as fast as you could snake it. And it won't corrode.

    You can saw out the iron pipe, disconnect back to a female threaded fitting (hopefully decent thread), install male adapters, and glue in the CPVC. The pipe is flexible enough that you should be able to insert a long length without a union, and it's easy if you have an elbow in that section. The more you replace the better.

    The required cure time for CPVC joints (1/2 to 1.5", 40 to 60 F) is 20 minutes. http://www.ipscorp.com/weldon/setcure.html

    If you need bigger than 3/4" tube size that you can get at HD, you can get iron pipe size at some plumbing supply places.
  4. HANDYHACKERinFL

    HANDYHACKERinFL New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Florida
    Thanks for good advice

    I understand the pros of copper, but as a novice and with the cramped working conditions, the idea of cpvc is a logical choice. I can remove the galv stub, cut a 1 1/2 hole in the back of the vanity and wall, cut the rest of the pipe out from underneath, and slip the new cpvc into the hole. Then I can have a cpvc stub with an elbow glued on to slip into the hole in the wall and onto the new pipe, with someone underneath to hold in in place untill the glue takes. Or I can cut an access panel on the opposite side of wall, the fridge hides it anyway.The rest wil be easy, as there is room down there to work. In the past I have always used 1/2" cpvc, but you recommend 3/4 to have good flow? or it's stronger?
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    22,183
    Location:
    New England
    Watch out for the vapors from the glue in confined spaces...
  6. what is the matter with glue vapors??

    Now what is the matter with glue vapors????

    I occasionally have gotten a very good buzz off of them and

    consider them a "perk" of the profession.....lol



    if it dont kill ya, it only makes you stronger.....
  7. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

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    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You are replacing 1/2" iron pipe, so the 3/4" CPVC is a closer size. I might just forget the 1/2" CPVC because the ID is smaller than 1/2" copper, and I would want to stock only one size of pipe and fittings.

    You could use 1/2" CPVC for fixture connections but I would use 3/4" for all main supplies if presssure loss is a factor.
  8. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    I would try one of those cheap cannister snakes first. If it doesn't work, you're only out about $8.00
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    snake

    It is not a 45 elbow in the wall it is a 90, and there is no snake made, now or ever, that will negotiate a 1/2" elbow. In fact they will usually not even negotiate a 1 1/4" elbow if it uses "water" fittings.
  10. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    So, then these long Gardner Bender flex drill bits won't work either?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 13, 2006
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

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    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    No, Not on 1/2" galv. it will never make the 90
  12. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

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    2,051
    Actually, I was hoping the obstruction was in a straight pipe, cuz then I was going to suggest using a BB gun to blast it out. A few well placed shots and water would be flowing again.:D
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2006
  13. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    Location:
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    Roll up your sleeves and don't be a woussey guy and do it the right way.
  14. HANDYHACKERinFL

    HANDYHACKERinFL New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Florida
    Its rust

    I saw a cross section of pipe that had been left from the original piping from a previous repipe, and it is soft rust. Clogged all the way through, but the rust is soft. And surprisingly, the thickness of the pipe wall does not appear compromised, though I'm sure there are pits. Replace the pipe.

    Or I could attach a vibrator to it and dislodge the rust?
    There is a little flow, and it would carry the dislodged particles out the faucet and down the drain.

    Ive heard of eloctrolosis used to prevent rust, is there a device that can be attached to iron piping that produces low voltage and prevents rust?

    and then there is 'Phosophoric' , that converts rust to some other substance, a white powdery residue...I could pour a gallon of it into the water supply:D just kidding on that one. Remember I'm the idiot who "fixed" a copper pinhole leak with radiator stop leak. Well, it worked. and I didnt. Maybe Im lazy...:eek:
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    bb gun

    If you use a BB gun, all you will end up with is a pipe with a pellet stuck in the only hole that was still letting water flow through the pipe.
  16. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    There are some pretty powerful BB guns nowadays. But if that's the case, I would use that nifty flexible drill bit to bore through it. I've seen them up to six feet long and in many diameters.

    Seriously, though, how can you know that the clogged elbow is a 90 degree and not a 45 degree without seeing it? I bet some fish tape could negotiate a 1/2" elbow, if it is not a 90.

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    Last edited: Oct 14, 2006
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,874
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    elbow

    I don't know for sure, but the probability that it is a 90 is about 99.9999+ % that it is, because in my 57+ years as a plumber I have NEVER seen a 45 used in that situation. And I do not care what kind of fish tape you have it will not make the square corner in a 1/2" elbow. But even it it could the pipe and elbow would have to be brand new. It would not dislodge any encrustation inside the pipe.
  18. HANDYHACKERinFL

    HANDYHACKERinFL New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Florida
    definitely a 90

    yeah its a 90. and then it drops three feet to the basement, where another 90 takes it 6" to tie into the main branch line. I imagined a spring type cable fish snake, with a special head to help it around a corner as it turns, without doubling back on itself. It is a very tight corner to negotiate, the added difficulty is the blunt edge of the second pipe when the snake makes it way through the 90. Maybe the combination of spinning and thrusting would eventually work past the 90. 1/4 inch braided cable is pretty flexible. It is a possibility of engineering, and someone somewhere has succeeding in this type of feat. Maybe.
  19. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

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    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    I can't believe what I'm reading. There is no magic pill........
  20. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Forget about the BB gun. For $2000 you can buy a laser gun and zap it.

    But again, seriously, I don't know why none of the plumbers on this forum hasn't recommended high pressure water jetting. If the pipes are just packed with rust, it should work easily.

    Attached Files:

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