How to remove galvanized pipe nipple from enclosed wall

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Myhouse

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How do I remove a 1/2" galvanized pipe nipples from an enclosed wall without doing anything to the wall?

The house, built in 1956, has copper supply lines everywhere, except for the last few inches to the toilets. Earlier this year, I removed some short sections of galvanized pipe from the washer and basement toilet supply lines because they were easily accessible. Both had threaded galvanized nipples coming out of 90's pictured below. I replaced the nipples and 90's with copper (soldered by me) and compression fittings. All good still today.

But I have two remaining toilets on the main floor that have copper going up from the basement and galvanized coming out of the wall. Consequently, the bowls get rust rings on them every few weeks. I'm tired of cleaning that, so I'd like to remove the galvanized and put in copper. But the joints are in walls with Sheetrock on both sides, and to make it even more fun, one wall is tiled. I doubt I can find tile in this size or color now.

So, I have no access to the joints without cutting up the walls, which I really don't want to do.

How can I remove the 4 to 6 inch long galvanized nipples without tearing up the wall?

The basement toilet and washer supply lines had 90 degree fittings like this, so I suspect the same exist for these two toilets:

elbow.jpg


The 90's are anchored to something inside the walls; when I pull on the valves, the pipe doesn't move.

This is the tiled wall:

20210425_151959.jpg


My thinking is to sweat a threaded copper fitting on to a ~6" copper nipple and thread that into the 90 inside the wall, then use compression fittings for the valve.
 
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Breplum

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We plumbers use "nipple extractors". We typically carry a few different types. Spiral type is generally effective.
Once in a while, those copper drop ear elbows are not well secured and the whole thing comes apart and it is a disaster.
Most of the time we extract the nipple and use a brass nipple sized appropriately.
 

Reach4

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If you cut the tube and try to unscrew the valve, the nipple may unscrew at the drop ear elbow if that is what is there, or from the galvanized elbow, if that is what is there.

Or the valve may unscrew from the nipple, in which case you decide what to do from there -- get a nipple extractor probably.

Or something worse could happen. So there is a risk. Is this over a basement?
 

Myhouse

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These two are over a basement. Naturally though, there is some framing in the way below where the copper pipe goes up in to the walls. I have thought of working it from that end, but that's kind of a last resort option at this point.

What I'm thinking is remove the valves (they've been replaced in the past year or so), then somehow try to unscrew the nipples.

If I remove the escutcheons, I have enough room to squirt PB Blaster in there. However, after 65 years I suspect the pipe dope is more like glue now.

What's the difference between an internal pipe wrench and nipple extractors? It seems that the internal pipe wrench can reach in farther, which sounds like a good idea.
 

Terry

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I've used both to remove nipples.

nipple-extractor-terrylove-02.jpg


pipe_extractor.jpg


This one that has been cut works for broken shower arms. The full uncut version for pipe nipples.
Sometimes the easyout inside the pipe and a pipe wrench on the pipe.

husky-nipple-extractor-set.jpg


I've tried these, but don't like them as well.
 

wwhitney

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What's the difference between an internal pipe wrench and nipple extractors? It seems that the internal pipe wrench can reach in farther, which sounds like a good idea.
I have not used either, but my understanding is that: nipple extractors will only let you remove nipples, not install them, while an internal pipe wrench can do both. And nipple extractors are more robust than an internal pipe wrench, so you can apply a lot more torque without breaking the tool, compared to an internal pipe wrench.

Of course, if you're trying to break an old rusted connection where you only have access from one side, the amount of torque you can safely apply depends on how well the female side is secured (since you can't hold back), and that is hard to know ahead of time.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Jadnashua

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If they were consistent, and the el in the wall is both anchored and bronze, once you get a good grip on the nipple, it should just unscrew. If it is corroded, and breaks off at the fitting in the wall, then you may need a deeper extractor to get that out of the fitting.

When tightening things back up, put pipe dope on the nipple's threads start the valve on one end, and then put the nipple into the one in the wall andf tighten the valve up...as you tighten the valve, it will once mostly tight, also start to turn the pipe in the wall in the el. If you can't find a brass one the right length, you can probably find a chromed one, so any excess sticking out would still look good.
 

Myhouse

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Lacking anything to do today after replacing the front brake disks on the Accord, I decided I'd get started on one of the two nipples.

The tiled bathroom is the one that is hardly used, and it's easy to remove the vanity. So I started here.

After reinstalling the valve, this is where I stopped for the night. If needed, I can make the drywall hole larger with a stab saw or hole saw, but I don't know how to enlarge the hole in the tile.

20210501_204233.jpg
 
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Reach4

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Plastic tile?

Get a hole saw, and put a hole in a piece of plywood.

Then remove the pilot drill, and hold the plywood hole where you want the hole. Saw thru the plastic tile and wall.

Ceramic tile? I don't know how to handle that.
 

Myhouse

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Well, today I learned things aren't always as they seem at first glance....

The internal pipe wrench did the job; with a little muscle on my 8" adjustable wrench, the nipple came out.

But....
  • the nipple was 3/8, not 1/2, and
  • the nipple was chrome-plated brass!
While I had the nipple out, I got my magnet-on-a-stick and touched it to the elbow in the wall. It didn't stick.

20210502_171000.jpg


So, I wrapped white teflon tape on the threads and reassembled things. No leaks!

Now I have a bathroom that smells somewhat like PB Blaster and a toilet that will likely still have a black film in places in the bowl (under the water line) after a few weeks. The source of that film remains to be determined. The components in the tank were replaced ~10 years ago with modern stuff.

But I did get to buy and use a cool tool - the internal pipe wrench. Never knew about it before.
 

Reach4

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Glad you were OK. I suspect you got rid of that nice chrome-plated copper supply line, and now have a flex line.

Now I have a bathroom that smells somewhat like PB Blaster and a toilet that will likely still have a black film in places in the bowl (under the water line) after a few weeks. The source of that film remains to be determined. The components in the tank were replaced ~10 years ago with modern stuff.
There are things that should help with that.

Septic, or sewer?
 

Myhouse

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Sewer.

Actually I reused the nipple since I couldn't find any in town longer than 4" over the weekend.

I'm in the process of getting a flex supply line. Have the chrome-plated brass lines (from the valve to the tank) fallen out of favor now?
 
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Reach4

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I suggest you treat your toilet bowl with bleach. You can make a solution, or even pour full strength from the bottle. Use a funnel, and put the bleach solution down the toilet overflow. The bleach is not good for the flapper and seals in the tank. Some find replacing the flapper every few years to be a small price for not having stuff growing. Some will put a slow-release chlorine tablet into the tank.

There are devices that go in in line with the refill hose to put some chlorine in every flush. I would try Kaboom Scrub Free or Fluidmaster Flush n' Sparkle. Definitely go for the bleach version. However with the low-water-use toilets they restrict the bowl fill just a little. So it throws off the calibrated bowl fill. Some fill valves have an adjustment to control the bowl fill.

I put some small pool chlorine tablets into the refill-place of a Kaboom Scrub Free on my least-used toilet. This is despite having septic. Septic tanks can tolerate some chlorine. Not a consideration with a sewer.


I'm in the process of getting a flex supply line. Have the chrome-plated brass lines (from the valve to the tank) fallen out of favor now?
The chrome-plated brass looks significantly better, and would be impervious to failure I would think. The downside is you pretty much have to destroy them to remove. I could not figure out how you would put them in. I searched around and wrote this with what I found: https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?resources/non-flex-copper-supply-riser.23/

I have never done that, but next time I do one for a toilet, I will consider it.
 

Myhouse

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Thanks for the chlorine idea; I think I'll try that.

I took pics of my solid supply line and responded in your thread. The thing that makes me think they are falling out of favor is that they're hard to find now. Not so long ago you could find these at hardware stores. Maybe now they're only at plumbing supply shops.
 

Reach4

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Thanks for the chlorine idea; I think I'll try that.

I took pics of my solid supply line and responded in your thread. The thing that makes me think they are falling out of favor is that they're hard to find now. Not so long ago you could find these at hardware stores. Maybe now they're only at plumbing supply shops.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-8-in-O-D-x-20-in-Copper-Toilet-Riser-1-20DL-CF/100202750 is chrome.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/3-8-in-...lastic-Compression-Sleeve-P1-20DL-F/100552807 is similar in PEX plastic.
 
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