Splicing a leaking copper supply line with PEX

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by WV Bob, Sep 24, 2017.

  1. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    I've got a leaking 1/2" copper supply line that I've been trying to fix with Sharkbites and PEX. The problem I've run into is the copper line is basically fixed in place so there's no "wiggle room" to fit the PEX in after allowing for the Sharkbite installation depth. What I end up with is on one end, copper-Sharkbite-PEX and on the other copper-Sharkbite and I can't get the PEX in the fitting.

    Is there a certain order I should be doing this in? Can anyone offer any tips to get me through this dilemma? I hope this is something that has a common solution.

    Thanks,

    Bob
    Huntington, WC
     
  2. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    FWIW I've received tips on other forums telling me to cut out more copper to give the PEX room to flex. I've currently got about 2' cut out and since I can easily do that I plan to give it a shot. I'll probably drop back 5 or more feet and that gives me additional room PEX length too, and I'll clamp it to the joists so it's not hanging.

    I was also advised to look at Sharkbite slip fittings, but I'm skeptical of those working as advertised after trying and failing to remove a coupler using their release tool.

    BTW I would've already sweated copper in, but my luck with wet supposed to be dry pipes in the past hasn't been good.

    Additional ideas are welcome.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    You could use a copper repair coupling if you can sweat (solder) copper. This works in a straight line. You can actually get this in a long cut-to-length piece. This is a coupling with no stop, so that you can slide it over the pipe left or right before positioning and soldering.

    For just PEX, if there is not enough flex, you could make your PEX make a U or capital Omega shape. img_2.png

    Why was this copper leaking? Was there mechanical damage, or what? Does the copper pipe have red paint marking it?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2017
  5. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    I can solder, and had thought of a sweated slip coupling yesterday, but if there's any water (and there is) I'm not confident in drying it out. There is a long flat run to the repair spot that seemed to just keep dripping yesterday.

    The copper was leaking at a point where it had been nailed to a joist using a piece of perforated steel duct strap. The pipe had been strapped to the joist for 60 years and I suppose chemical reactions between the copper and steel ate it up. While I'm under the house I'm on a search and replace mission to replace all of the existing straps/hangers with plastic nail-up clamps like used with PEX.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    That is comforting.

    You could also put the PEX into a loop. They don't have bend supports for a full loop. Maybe you could use 4 regular bend supports.
     

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  7. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    Yes, it's always best when there's a reason for the leak other than the pipe must be defective. OTOH, it is 60 years old now., or at least the house is. It's depressing in the crawl space - 60 years of bum work hidden under the floor.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Have you looked at the Sharkbite repair fittings? Maybe have PEX in one end, and copper on the other.
     
  9. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    Do you mean one with a slip fitting for copper on one end and a crimp/clamp fitting for PEX on the other? I did look for that and they don't make them although I don't know why.

    I'm planning on getting a slip coupling as shown in the posted video to take under with me just in case.
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    You have more than a 2 inch gap to fill. So you could maybe use two of those Sharkbite slip fittings, but I figured you were already prepared to attach PEX to copper. You could do whatever you were going to do with one end of the PEX, and use a single repair fitting on the other.

    I have not used this, but I think I would might better with the slip end on PEX and the grab end on the old copper. But maybe I have that backwards. Since the copper is rigid, have the slip end there, and the grab end on the PEX. I don't know. http://www.sharkbite.com/sliprepair/ does not say that there is a problem with the slip end on PEX, so it is probably good either way.
     
  11. fullysprinklered

    fullysprinklered In the Trades

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    It's a great fitting. Got several in the van. Ain't cheap, though.
     
  12. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    I'm going to fill the gap with PEX, and if I use the slip fit it'll just be to fill between the end of the PEX and the start of the copper. I'll just use a normal sharkbite on the other end. I'm hoping I will be able to lengthen the gap and get the PEX to bend where I need it so I can just use two normal sharkbite couplers though.
     
  13. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    Those slip fits are about $13. I'd give $100 for something I knew would work. I'll end up paying a lot more than that if I have to call in a plumber. I don't think it's going to come to that though.
     
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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  15. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    That's the way I interpreted it too, IF it's got the support ring thing on the non-slip side it should otherwise be the same as a normal sharkbite fitting..
     
  16. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    I gave the slip fittings a good hard look and they don't have the PEX support in either end so they won't work for PEX at all.

    However, I did realize that I don't need PEX if I use one of those anyway. I can just use a normal coupler on one end, cut the spliced in piece of copper (type L of course) to length per the limitations of the slip fitting, and use the slip fitting on the other end.
     
  17. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    For closure - success. Sharkbite coupler -> copper pipe -> sharkbite slip coupler.
     
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  18. Glennhvac

    Glennhvac New Member

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    This is one of the reasons they want your electric panel ground going all the way to the meter now instead of the nearest cold water pipe. People splice a section with plastic and there goes your ground.
     
  19. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    Good point. Our panel is grounded to the copper right where it comes out of the slab from the meter. We had to drive a ground stake for our other house since it was redone with PEX.
     
  20. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    I live in a row of townhouse condominiums. Each unit has an individual shutoff, but mine was leaking, so to put a new one in...I had to shut water off from the whole row. Not something you want to do for long, and it would be impossible to wait for water to drain from all 10 units! So, the solution (well, the easiest one) was to use a Sharkbite slip fitting. I used a Sharkbite ball valve at the cutoff point, then I could turn the water back on for everyone, then used a slip fitting to piece the rest of it together. I wasn't willing to wait for all of my lines to drain, plus, where I needed to do this was awkward, and soldering it would have been a hassle.

    The problem with pex could be, that the ID is smaller than copper. Depending on what that 1/2" line is feeding, you may or may not notice inserting a length of pex there...copper is better in this case.

    The fixed end of their slip joint will work fine on pex...it needs a rigid pipe to make the seal on the slip side.
     
  21. WV Bob

    WV Bob Member

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    The reason I didn't trust the slip joint on PEX is that it doesn't have the inside reinforcement. Directions say that can be removed for copper and PCV connections, but it is necessary for PEX. I could've taken one out of a Sharkbite coupler to use in the slip joint and hoped for the best, but it was just as easy, actually easier, to use a piece of hard copper instead of the PEX in this case.
     
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