Is installation too flimsy?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Harper, May 11, 2013.

  1. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    hose bib2.jpg
    I recently had a galvanized pipe replaced in my wall with copper. It was the lone remaining non-copper pipe in my house, which I discovered after it sprang a leak. Nice. So anyway, the pipe led outside to my hose bib, and in turn to my sprinklers. You can see the configuration in the attached photo. The plastic you see leads into my patio slab, and eventually to my sprinklers. The configuration itself is basically the same as before. It's not ideal perhaps, but everything is working fine.

    My question has to do with the quality of the work. Does it look okay? First of all, I wasn't expecting the copper pipe to be so thin. The old galvanized pipe was 1". The new pipe measures 5/8".

    Also, I can move the pipe back and forth around 1/16" to 1/8". I have to say that I never thought to test the galvanized pipe that this replaced. Regardless, it makes me concerned about dragging a hose around the yard, that the pipe and stucco might not withstand normal use as we turn the water on and off, and drag the hose across the yard.

    Should I be concerned?

    Thanks ahead of time!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,814
    Location:
    New England
    A couple of things - I agree, the valve should be properly supported and it's not. But, unless there's a backflow preventer in the sprinkler system, it is both illegal and dangerous. In most places, that backflow preventer must be tested and recertified annually, or the water company will shut your water off. I'm not sure if the connection to it is to code, either, but I'm not a pro. Normally, pvc (at least that looks like pvc) is not allowed above ground. It can get brittle and crack from UV exposure over time and it's pressure rating decreases radically when it gets hot - the sun can heat it considerably (which is why it's okay underground...the temp and UV exposure are limited).
  3. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    Thanks for the reply. Let's assume there's a backflow preventer for now.

    What is the aspect that may be "illegal and dangerous?" The lack of a support? Or the PVC details you described?

    Also, what about the width of the copper pipe?

    Finally, what can I do to add "proper support?"

    Thanks again!
  4. kreemoweet

    kreemoweet New Member

    Messages:
    371
    Location:
    Seattle. WA
    The "illegal and dangerous" bit comes from the fact that your installation poses the risk of contamination of your (and the public's) drinking
    water supply with whatever nasty pool of water your hose end might be lying in. Such installation have been outlawed for many years by
    the plumbing codes. Hose bibbs, and any connection to an irrigation system, must be equipped with approved backflow preventers.

    The job you show is decidedly low-end. There are numerous deficiencies. You are right to worry about the mechanical integrity of that setup.
    Especially, the use of a female-threaded plastic fitting like that is very bad. Whether the pipe size is going to have adverse consequences depends
    on the details of your "irrigation system".
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; Let's assume there's a backflow preventer for now.

    1. Why would we do that when there is obviously NO BFP in the line. At least not one in an approved location.
    2. The photo is no a good one, but I assume the copper fitting is screwed INTO the PVC elbow. If so, it will eventually crack the elbow. IF it is a PVC thread into a copper female fitting, then it will eventually break off it the copper is able to move.
    3. sizewise, we cannot tell if it is 1/2" or 3/4" copper, not do we know the real size of the galvanized pipe which was removed, although common practice would be to use the same size for the replacement as what was removed.
  6. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    I see. I apparently had no idea what a backflow preventer was! But I Googled it and understand it now. Not many of the houses in my neighborhood have backflow preventers (from what I have seen).

    My plumber's job was basically to just replace the galvanized with copper. He basically did just that, and said nothing about my initial setup not being up to code.

    As for the PVC, he actually decreased the amount of PVC above ground. To remove it all would require tearing up my patio.

    Okay. Anything else about the copper itself I should be concerned about?

    Is there some way to provide the structure more support that I should look into, or is redoing the whole thing "properly" my only option?
  7. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    Very insightful! This job was actually done twice. The first time, the plumber only installed enough copper to lead to the hose bib, and preserved the PVC leading away from it. After about 4 months, the PVC first elbow sprang several pinhole leaks. So we had him come back out and he added more copper. The elbow was replaced with copper, though on more elbow now remains.

    I took a closer look, and the copper does not go directly into the PVC elbow. There is a short bit of PVC that goes into the PVC elbow. The copper then attaches to the short bit of PVC. I cannot tell if they screw into each other, but they appear to have some glue where they join. I'm guessing that to be the weakest point.


    Well the outside of the copper measures 5/8". How is the pipe measured, from the inside? That make this 1/2" then, right? The galvanized it replaced was certainly wider, and the PVC measured 1".
  8. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    hose bib elbow.jpg
    I have uploaded a close-up of the elbow, where the copper joins it. I was incorrect about where the glue was. Honestly, I cannot tell for sure how this was done. I count at least 5 parts involved here.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,776
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Pipe is measured from the ID (inside diameter) of the pipe.
    However, that being said, CPVC and PEX use the same OD as the corresponding pipe size in copper.
    So the OD is the same, but the ID is a little smaller.
    PVC is a true ID dimension, but the OD is now larger, as is galvanized.

    For irrigation, you will need a back flow device to be legal. You can't legally hook up irrigation without protection to the water supply. It's a safety hazard for you and you neighbors.

    Threading a male adapter into a plastic female fitting is always a bad idea. I know a lot of inspectors that would have failed that.
    It should have been a metal female with a plastic male.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,263
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; The galvanized it replaced was certainly wider, and the PVC measured 1".

    1/2" copper measures 5.8" o.d. 1/2" galvanized and PVC measure about 7/8", so everything you have, and had, was probably 1/2". "It should have been a metal female with a plastic male", but since a 1/2" PVC male adapter is about the "weakest" fitting in the entire plumbing industry, that would not be much of an improvement.
  11. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    382
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Don't know about the LA area, but here in the bay area residential backflow prevention seems to be usually done in two ways.

    1) An in-line screw-on backflow preventer is screwed onto the hose spigot(s) and a set-screw is tightened down (to prevent removal) and then broken off.

    2) Each vacuum breaker on the sprinkler valves needs to be at least 6" (if I remember correctly) above the highest head they serve.
  12. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    Can you link to a picture of what this looks like? I tried looking through Google images, but I'm not sure what I'm looking at.
  13. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    382
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Something like this. Some seem to be check valves and others vacuum breakers. I never paid much attention to them. You can also just get the proper valve, although the inspectors here had never seen one...
    ZRN_BFP-9.jpg
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  14. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    That is only appropriate for the hose spigot. An installed irrigation system requires an RPZ back flow preventer.
  15. bluebinky

    bluebinky Member

    Messages:
    382
    Location:
    Santa Clara, CA
    Correct, of course.

    Here (in northern California) the "irrigation systems" are usually protected only by the control valves being mounted up a foot or two above the ground. We don't have to worry about them freezing.
    077985606107lg.jpg
    Not saying this is necessarily correct, but the inspectors don't even bat an eye when they see such an installation.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  16. Harper

    Harper New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    Thanks! I think I'm fine with the sprinklers. I'll look for the one for the spigot.

    My last concern I think is how to reinforce the entire structure so that we don't eventually compromise the pipe and wall from the hose pulling against it. Any ideas? Something to mount on the wall? Screw into the patio?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2013
  17. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,237
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    If you insist on keeping the existing set-up, set a post in the concrete to act as a support for the piping. I would also set a second post to protect the PVC going into the ground, because that will be a likely spot for it to get broken off.
  18. asktom

    asktom Member

    Messages:
    517
    Location:
    Victor, MT
    I agree with Cacher but would also paint the PVC to protect it from sunlight, which can make the PVC brittle.
  19. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    There are state and federal laws pertaining to BFPs. I would find it hard to believe that California, with the most restrictive environmental protective laws in the US, don't have requirements for BF devices and provisions for periodic inspections to make certain they are not only installed, but are functioning properly. I have to suspect the qualifications of the "plumber" that did this work for you.
  20. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,814
    Location:
    New England
    There's a difference between BFP and a vacuum breaker, and you may be required to have both, but they are not interchangeable!
Similar Threads: installation flimsy
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Water softener installation problem Jul 18, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Help with Garbage Disposal Installation May 30, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Planning for installation of hot water recirculator May 2, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & New Installation Upstairs Apr 29, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Washing Machine Installation for Haier HLP23E Compact Washer Apr 25, 2014

Share This Page