Condo dilemma. Soldering in a high rise

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by John_aloha, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. John_aloha

    John_aloha New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Aloha everyone. I am remodeling my condo in a 8 story building. I am on the second floor (bottom) and need to move my cold water supply line, drain- trap, and vent over about a foot. The cold water supply line feeds the apartments above, and there is a "T" in line to the kitchen sink valve, and the hot water heater, with a return hot water line to the sink (valve) and bathroom. I shut the water off for the stack and proceeded to drain the supply line. After a couple minutes it was apparent that I was not only draining the line above me, but siphoning hot water from the water heater tanks above through the cold water supply line. At least thats my guess. My plumber said I need to have everyone shut off there hot water heater valves and electrical panels, but there has got to be an easier way. That would almost be impossible in my building! Does any body have any ideas or experience in this type of situation?

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,412
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Your plumber is right about contacting the neighbors on this one.
    Some local inspectors want vacuum breakers on the cold water supply for just that reason. When working on homes, we often turn off the electrical breaker to the water heater when draining down a home to solder. We also sometimes loosen a supply line to the water heater to break the siphon if we are in a hurry.

    I love it when I get a call telling me that repairing a copper pipe is a 15 minute job. Heck, it takes me that long talking to the homeowner to find the shutoff location. Then you need to open everything up on the upper floors to do a complete drain down.

    You will be fine, but it is a big job doing what you are attempting. There is a lot that can go wrong. It sounds like your plumber has some ideas.
  3. John_aloha

    John_aloha New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Thank you Terry for the info! So turning off their electrical breakers for their water heaters the night before should do the trick (total drain down) so the elements don't burn out without water in the tank. That way I don't have to have each neighbor above me find their shutoff valve and turn off. That's one of the reasons I need the shut off (besides the moving of supply line) is to change MY water heater gate valve as it is stuck in the closed position. I think it's original 1958! So imagine what a mess that would be if the units above broke their water heater shut off valves at my request!!!

    Again, thank you.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    Don't know the rules in HI, but where I live, and in my condo, you cannot do any plumbing without a license. It can get quite frustrating, knowing you can do it yourself, but have to pay someone else, but if you get caught, or damage some other unit's equipment (like burning out their WH electric elements!), you're on the hook, rather than an insured/bonded plumber that should know better.
  5. John_aloha

    John_aloha New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Hawaii
    My guy is a licensed plumber, so I am good to go. And yes, in Hi. you need board approval and use a licensed plumber. I just always like to know how it all goes together just in case there are problems, and to generally educate myself. This stuff fascinates me!
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    There is a neat tool that you can insert inside the pipe and stop the flow so you don't need to leave the water off forever and to drain down the whole system, but you'd need to use it to install a full-port shutoff, so you could then stop it after you remove the tool. It's hot a long handle, and an expanding seal on the end. You insert it into the pipe, tighten it down to stop the flow (it's far enough in so you can solder something and not damage the seal or the tool). Then, you'd install something like a ball valve, pull the tool out, shut the valve, then everything would be dry and you could continue on with the rest of the modification. This might be also handy to allow you to isolate your stuff from the rest of the condo's supply, should you want to do some other mods later. http://jetswetstore.com/?gclid=CKSP1J6Fqr0CFchZ7AodtUIAxQ is what I'm talking about. Your plumber should know what I'm talking about, and may own a set (they come in various sizes - they get pricy on the larger ones). They can save a lot of time, if you need to do something like this since you don't have to wait for what may be many floors of pipes to drain.
  7. John_aloha

    John_aloha New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Thanks! I will ask my plumber about this tomorrow.
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