Planning Ahead to Service Your Copper Pipes

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by daavewaard, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. daavewaard

    daavewaard Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    California
    Yesterday I was squirming around in my tight crawl space and I needed to solder caps on two nearby 1/2" copper tubing ends. Despite opening lots of faucets and such, water continued to drip form both openings. And drip, and drip. I searched online for the easy fix and found that the most often mentioned is the bread solution. Is this one of those truisms...that wherever one opens a copper line it is guaranteed to be a lowpoint?

    Stepping back for a moment, I wonder that for my dream house, whether there is a way to design in some way to run new copper lines under my new house with servicing the pipes in mind. Yes, I know, they shouldn't need service...but has anyone ever added shutoff valves, for example, to allow work on one bathroom, for example, while the rest of the house was functioning normally? No, this doesn't correct the drip, drip, drip issue, but at least I can eat dinner while I wait for the water to drain out. Thanks!!
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,124
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I sometimes to repair work for a vacation home on the Washington Coast.
    We angled the pipes to a drain with shutoff. When he leaves the home in Winter, he shuts off the power to the water heater, shuts the main, and opens the drain that we place at the low point.
    It works pretty well.

    When working on copper and soldering, you need to open up all the fixtures in the home, including those on the top floor. Think of a soda straw. If you put your thumb on top of the straw, it holds water, lift up the thumb, and the soda drops out of the straw. Unless you love hanging out in a crawlspace waiting for that "straw" to drain, it's best to open everything up and get it over with.

    In a pinch, white bread with no seeds.
    Or, this is one place I would consider using a sharkbite.

    I laugh at potential customers that call up and tell me that cutting in a tee in a crawl can be done in 15 minutes. So I tell them, "Go for it!" Why are you calling me then?
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,825
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Your problem was probably a malfunctioning valve that was letting water through. Otherwise a good "puff of air" would have taken care of the water long enough for you to install the caps. You can install as many valves as you want, and anywhere you want to put them. Cost and accessibility are the two factors that usually limit the valves.
  4. dw85745

    dw85745 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Arizona
    Personally I think it is a great idea. As Terry described, we did the same thing on my dad's summer place and never a worry about anything freezing. IN addition to above, over time you will get a calcium buildup on the pipe walls which can break lose and start plugging things (e.g. aerators, angle values, etc.). Having a point or points to flush out this buildup makes an easy fix.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,825
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; that cutting in a tee in a crawl can be done in 15 minutes. So I tell them, "Go for it!" Why are you calling me then?

    I tell them, "30 seconds or one hour, the cost is the same".
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,124
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It's nice to see you going to flat rate too.
    I price things by the job. I know what I like to charge for cutting in a tee in a crawl.
  7. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered Member

    Messages:
    201
    Location:
    Georgia
  8. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered Member

    Messages:
    201
    Location:
    Georgia
    Thanks for saying that, Terry. For me it's always been a real dilemma whether to wait for the pipes to drip out, or go ahead and open every valve in the house and let it all out.

    If the house is occupied, you run the chance of someone opening a valve to see if the water is back on. You've waited forever for it to drip out, you're up a ladder in the basement with your torch lit and here it comes again. Yeah, makes you want to reach for a sharkbite.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,124
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    We always open everything up.
    We replace shutoffs on many of our installs. So we're shutting down houses all the time. It's one of those things where the more you do it, the more you just say, Lady..........We need to open everything up. Let's get er done.
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