Drip leak in copper elbow 1/2" hot water what is best fix?

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Hogan

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Hi all - new member here

I have an annoying little drip in my basement utility room, coming out of the solder joint on a 90 elbow on 1/2" copper pipe that feeds the hot water to kitchen sink above. Has been there for months. Seems like it is getting a little worse so I want to fix it before I have a major problem.

Being naive and also lazy I took some extra JB Waterweld that I had on the workbench, drained the pipe, and made a collar around the area. Waited 4 hours to turn on the water again so it could cure. As y'all are chuckling, yes it didn't work and there is still a drip.

Soooo, what is the best way to fix this? It is right up along the wood floor joists. I think I can remove a pipe clamp or two to give myself room to get one of those mini cutters in there to cut pipe as necessary.

So options (assuming I can get off the waterweld putty now)

1) try to torch the current joint and add more solder. Internet would suggest this won't work.

2) try to torch the current joint and see if I can pull the current elbow off, and then clean the pipes and solder in a new elbow.

3) try to cut the pipes and then use some Watts AquaLock fittings press on. I see Watts has an elbow but I don't think it will come together correctly if I cut out the old elbow so I may need to buy this elbow with one end as the copper pipe (I forget what it is called...extender or something) and then also use a second coupling.

4) find a plumber to fix it (how much will that cost?)

I am a DIYer on lots of stuff and happy to learn new skills rather than pay someone else. However I have never soldered a copper pipe joint before. If I DIY I will also have to buy stuff of course, so little rotary pipe cutter, Watts fittings or solder/flux depending on option, etc.

I assume sweating a new joint is the best way for the permanent fix (and a little cheaper), assuming I can successfully do it, or is doing press-in fittings just as OK for a permanent fix? This is all visible, not behind a wall.

Thanks

I am trying to upload a picture but maybe it isn't allowing me because I am new
 

Reach4

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"I assume sweating a new joint is the best way for the permanent fix (and a little cheaper), assuming I can successfully do it, or is doing press-in fittings just as OK for a permanent fix? This is all visible, not behind a wall."

Press is fine for permanant, but you need a tool. If you sweat, you will want at least one repair coupling.

Functionally, even Sharkbite will work great. They also offer repair couplings for copper.

https://www.sharkbite.com/us/en/brass-push-to-connect/fittings/couplings/flexible-repair-coupling looks hokey. Braided over rubber can have a limited life for water heaters. I would not like that for permanent.
 
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Hogan

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John pls see attached. These are from before I put the Waterweld putty all around the area oops. So I will need to get that off somehow if I am going to work with the existing pipe without cutting.
20200331_103759.jpg
20200331_103718.jpg
 

John Gayewski

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I would pro press a new 90 with a sort piece of pipe on each side of the 90 with a slip coupling on each end.
 

Jeff H Young

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I cant tell if there is a tee up high next to the black pipe if not I dont see why it couldnt be pulled down and soldered something like that I just cut it out and solder in a new section slip a 1/4 inch piece of hardie board against the wood
 

JohnCT

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No, resweating that fitting won't work any better than an external putty or epoxy (in other words, not at all).

If you're not comfortable with sweating, then use a Sharkbite. It's about 90% as good as Propress and you won't need tools, and it's in an unfinished area. You might need a slip coupling (Sharkbite makes those as well) if you don't have the swing room to install a coupling.

If it was mine, I'd just replace the copper elbow and sweat it in.

John
 

Hogan

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I cant tell if there is a tee up high next to the black pipe if not I dont see why it couldnt be pulled down and soldered something like that I just cut it out and solder in a new section slip a 1/4 inch piece of hardie board against the wood

There is no Tee up there. There is a pipe strap further to the right that is above the HVAC duct but I think I could reach in to undo it an then that whole joint should be more free to pull down some.

Just because I have never sweated a pipe before I guess doesn't mean I can't learn and try. I will watch a couple YouTubes and see. In watching one before it seems like I spread flux inside the joint, fit together, then heat and add the solder and it will be drawn in by the flux. I guess I can always practice on a few pieces down on a workbench and see. Or just get the push fits. I have soldered electronics before but know this is not exactly the same thing
 

Hogan

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No, resweating that fitting won't work any better than an external putty or epoxy (in other words, not at all).

If you're not comfortable with sweating, then use a Sharkbite. It's about 90% as good as Propress and you won't need tools, and it's in an unfinished area. You might need a slip coupling (Sharkbite makes those as well) if you don't have the swing room to install a coupling.

If it was mine, I'd just replace the copper elbow and sweat it in.

John

Also one more question...if I cut off that elbow then I am going to need 3 different pieces to solder right? An elbow plus 2 other repair couplings so 6 joints to solder. Otherwise it won't come together as it does now. Is there such a think as a premade copper pipe elbow that is longer and is the 1/2" diameter of the pipe so I could just attach with 2 repair couplings one at each cut point on the current pipe?
 

Jeff H Young

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agree I would not recomend re/sweating. Ive resweated new work that leaked but not old stuff.
Im confident in press fittings over push fit but If I couldnt solder and was a homeowner I might concider a shark bite in this location. If nothing else untill I had a plumber out on another job
 

JohnCT

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Also one more question...if I cut off that elbow then I am going to need 3 different pieces to solder right? An elbow plus 2 other repair couplings so 6 joints to solder. Otherwise it won't come together as it does now. Is there such a think as a premade copper pipe elbow that is longer and is the 1/2" diameter of the pipe so I could just attach with 2 repair couplings one at each cut point on the current pipe?

I don't know of any premade long elbows, but you can buy an elbow, a short piece of copper (or 8' section if you anticipate doing more work in the future), and one standard coupling and one slip coupling. You can cut like 10' away from the elbow, measure and pre-assemble the elbow with two new short lengths you will cut to duplicate your original section, then put your new assembly on your home plumbing with slip couplings.

You could do the same with push fittings, but it's a lot more money.

Soldering isn't difficult and is permanent, and I think you would find it easier to preassemble the elbow and two short pieces of new copper. The most important thing is to PREP the pipe with sandpaper/emory, use quality flux and quality solder - and of course, measure twice.

John
 
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Reach4

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Also one more question...if I cut off that elbow then I am going to need 3 different pieces to solder right? An elbow plus 2 other repair couplings so 6 joints to solder. Otherwise it won't come together as it does now. Is there such a think as a premade copper pipe elbow that is longer and is the 1/2" diameter of the pipe so I could just attach with 2 repair couplings one at each cut point on the current pipe?
Yes, but the elbow could be soldered up on the bench.

For soldering, you would want to use tinning flux with your solder.

Depending how close the joints are to the wood, and they look close, you want to avoid charring the wood, or worse, starting a fire.

That PVC could interfere with easy access, and that PVC can melt near a flame. So that would be another good point for Sharkbites.
 
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Hogan

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Yes, but the elbow could be soldered up on the bench.

For soldering, you would want to use tinning flux with your solder.

Depending how close the joints are to the wood, and they look close, you want to avoid charring the wood, or worse, starting a fire.

That PVC could interfere with easy access, and that PVC can melt near a flame. So that would be another good point for Sharkbites.
Thanks all for the above

I may indeed try this soldering. It is permanent and I don't see why I can't do it. I already have a blue Bernz torch so I just need some flux and solder. I will watch youtubes for technique. Any especially good ones for technique?

I feel like when I undo the pipe strap that this whole section will have a fair bit of ability to pull away from the ceiling. But I like the idea of soldering up the elbow on the bench. Biggest worry is how to solder the connection that is running away from me (it is off to the right in the picture) but maybe if I make the cut there really close to the current elbow I will still be able to see what I'm doing. The AC duct is right there below so if I cut too far down the pipe then I am trying to solder without seeing the connection. I guess I could also just go with an elbow and 2 couplings in a push fit and then cut 2 little stubs of copper pipe and be done. What I was wondering might work is there is a push fit elbow that has an extra length of copper coming out of one side...can't remember what it is called...and maybe that plus one other push coupling
 

Jeff H Young

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The blue circle covers part of it from view. I think removing or loosining the strap it will pull down as well . but... its possible to cut a section out and and build a new one on the bench and then just re install with new solder joints in an easy to get at position
 

Hogan

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Thanks Jeff

So shopping list for solder is just lead free solder and then "tinning flux" (plus whatever pieces I need)
 

Weekend Handyman

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When I learned to solder, I found the following YouTube guys quite good: ProsDIY, TheOldKid888, and Got2Learn.

Also, buy some good solder. I like Oatey SafeFlo … it has a lower melting point.
 

Jeff H Young

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Ive never used tinning flux or maybe I tried some it might have the solder mixed in no comment on that type
 

Weekend Handyman

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I really like the tinning flux … specifically Oatey brand. Cheap insurance for DIY.

For test joints, I soldered up some closed loops like shown in this video and pressurized them:
.
 

Hogan

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I just Googled and there is flux, tinning flux, water soluble flux and water soluble tinning flux and liquid flux haha.
 
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