brass elbow leaking inside my wall

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by vanhoudn, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. vanhoudn

    vanhoudn New Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Hi everyone,

    The shutoff valves for my bathroom sink were leaking, so I replaced them. However, now one of the brass elbows inside of the wall is leaking. I wanted the valve to face straight up so I remember tightening it quite a bit to get it vertical. It's entirely possible I overtightened it and damaged either the extension pipe (nipple?) or the elbow.

    What's weird is that I did this about a week ago, and only now has it started leaking. I have no idea why. I even put quite a bit of pipe dope on the threads of the horizontal-extension when I was screwing it in because I was afraid of precisely this happening.

    What is my best bet from here? Naively I can think of the following options:

    1. Unscrew the pipe that is on the leaking elbow. Clean the threads, wrap them in teflon tape, put pipe dope over the teflon tape, and screw it back in, being careful not to overtighten it this time. (One of the posts on this forum mentioned using both teflon and pipe dope if you have too.)

    2. Buy a new extension pipe in the hope that the damage has been done to the threads of the pipe not the threads of the elbow. Put plenty of telfon tape and/or pipe dope on the new pipe and try again.

    3. Drill a hole right next to where the pipe penetrates the subfloor so that I'll have room to get the elbow out when I cut the pipe near the tee in the basement. (Luckily my basement ceiling is unfinished and accessing this is pretty easy.) Get the vertical pipe and attached elbow out of the wall, replace the elbow, shove the assembly back up in the wall, get a buddy to screw in the new extension pipe to hold it in the right position, and then sweat the vertical pipe back to the supply above the tee with a simple union.

    I'd like to get away with #1 or #2 if I can, but I'll do #3 if I must. Will the first two even work? Is there a simpler option I'm missing?

    Thanks for any and all guidance,

  2. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Jun 21, 2007
    I smash things and demand money.
    Victoria, BC
    It's possible that you very slightly cracked the drop-elbow.

    The most straightforward thing you can do is unscrew your stub and flash a light in there to see if you can see any damage (I double you will be able to tell anything from looking straight on), and if not, then wrap your threads with teflon tape (and dope if you so choose) and try again...being careful to not over-tighten. Getting threaded shut-offs to line up correctly takes experience....copper stubouts are preferred due to soldered joints in the wall and the ability to compress/solder on valves in the orientation you want (occasionally pointing straight up is not always the best option).
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  4. vanhoudn

    vanhoudn New Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    That's probably what happened; cracking the brass elbow is about the only thing that makes sense.

    Later today I'm going to head to Lowes and get a Gator Bite drop elbow so that I can install a copper stubout without ripping apart my wall. I agree with you, getting the screw-ins to align properly is a pain. This way I'll be able to use a compression valve.

    Thanks for the help!
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