Small drip from copper pipe

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Hogan773
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Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:54 am

I should probably join some DIY plumber forum to ask this but will give it a whirl....

In my basement I noticed a very small drip coming from the copper pipe up at the top of the ceiling (it feeds to the kitchen sink above). It probably only drips once every hour or something, so not a major issue but I don't like the idea of water leaking, and I assume it won't get better yet could get worse.

Any DIY options or can a plumber just come and blast it with a torch and resolder? Or does it need to be cut away and redone at that elbow with new pipe and solder? Could I just drain the water out and then blast it with my torch to melt the solder (not even moving the joint) and then maybe it will fill in wherever the tiny hole is? Or is that more likely to then spring a huge leak when I turn on the water again?

daheld
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by daheld » Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:57 am

It's impossible to say without seeing it, but my guess is that the leak is not from the copper pipe itself but from the faucet above, then running down the copper pipe and finally dripping into your basement.

Yes, I'd definitely want it fixed as it won't just magically get better on it's own and might get worse. Just have to figure out where it's coming from and fix it.

capthawk
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by capthawk » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:03 am

Agree 100% with dalheld. try wrapping a paper towel using tape above the joint. If the towel gets wet , then it is slowly dripping/leaking from above and NOT the joint in question

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Sandtrap
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:10 am

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 9:54 am
I should probably join some DIY plumber forum to ask this but will give it a whirl....

In my basement I noticed a very small drip coming from the copper pipe up at the top of the ceiling (it feeds to the kitchen sink above). It probably only drips once every hour or something, so not a major issue but I don't like the idea of water leaking, and I assume it won't get better yet could get worse.

Any DIY options or can a plumber just come and blast it with a torch and resolder? Or does it need to be cut away and redone at that elbow with new pipe and solder? Could I just drain the water out and then blast it with my torch to melt the solder (not even moving the joint) and then maybe it will fill in wherever the tiny hole is? Or is that more likely to then spring a huge leak when I turn on the water again?
Water leak source is more likely from the copper pipe to "angle stop" shutoff below the kitchen sink than from the copper pipe itself.

Resoldering a copper pipe joint is not always simple. Often, the joint has to be taken apart a bit, joints cleaned up, then resoldered. No. Just "blasting it with a torch" doesn't work (unless you use a lot of "flux" and add solder. This is more likely to not only cause a leak but make the joint unstable.

Source the leak first. Likely culprit is under the kitchen sink. Investigate that thoroughly, even if the wall behind the sink has to be looked into. There's a short nipple out from the vertical feed, to the angle stop shutoff. Check that as well. When the angle stop shutoff is used, that horizontal nipple can get some stress.

(have traced and fixed a zillion of these things)
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livesoft
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by livesoft » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:14 am

There are many ways to fix copper pipes and the best way may not be apparent to anyone responding to this query. I've soldered new sections in and also used a simple Sharkbite connector after cutting out a pinhole leak with a pipe cutter, but there are other methods as well. You can find all kinds of answers on youtube.com for starters. Use bogleheads for enders.

While you have a pinhole leak now, the entire innards of a copper pipe may have thinned away and you are only a little time from a possible disaster.
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pqwerty
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by pqwerty » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:19 am

diy, sharkbite push-to-connect and pex are the greatest thing ever for fixes like this.

aas
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by aas » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:28 am

Find the source of the leak then use shark bite connectors to repair it.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:40 am

pqwerty wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:19 am
diy, sharkbite push-to-connect and pex are the greatest thing ever for fixes like this.
Where code allows. Doesn't for source lines where I live. Then again, where I live, homeowners are not allowed to do any plumbing. Only a licensed plumber can do the work. We do get to do our own wiring. It's ok to ground the black wire on a copper pipe, right?
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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 am

I took 2 pictures but can't seem to find a way to display them in a post

It is definitely not coming from the faucet. It is at a 90 degree elbow and is clear that the side furthest from the water has a drip and is getting some green corrosion at the solder joint. The vertical pipe to the faucet is 4 feet away across a flat horizontal run. Any water dripping from the faucet would be falling down long before getting to this joint.

I wish I could post but the plumbers have all kinds of angles running around the ceiling for this run. I suppose I could just start a couple feet away and cut out a bunch of those angles and then cut just on the other side of this leaking elbow and use SharkBite and PEX to connect both sides and simplify things too? I need to watch youtube to see what needs to be done to install a SharkBite. This pipe is way up along the joist running horizontally - I assume if I cut at the elbow it could be pulled down a little to give some room to work but not sure.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:03 am

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 am
I took 2 pictures but can't seem to find a way to display them in a post

It is definitely not coming from the faucet. It is at a 90 degree elbow and is clear that the side furthest from the water has a drip and is getting some green corrosion at the solder joint. The vertical pipe to the faucet is 4 feet away across a flat horizontal run. Any water dripping from the faucet would be falling down long before getting to this joint.

I wish I could post but the plumbers have all kinds of angles running around the ceiling for this run. I suppose I could just start a couple feet away and cut out a bunch of those angles and then cut just on the other side of this leaking elbow and use SharkBite and PEX to connect both sides and simplify things too? I need to watch youtube to see what needs to be done to install a SharkBite. This pipe is way up along the joist running horizontally - I assume if I cut at the elbow it could be pulled down a little to give some room to work but not sure.
Here's a link to the post image site.
https://postimages.org/

Yes. the green corrosion can be a sign of consistent dampness.

The Sharkbite connectors do work well. Not as solid as a well done soldered joint, though. I've done both. I suppose if you have trouble with the angles you could go from copper to flexible pex then back to copper again. Leave the access open for awhile, just temporary panel replacement, so you can check the pex joints over time before final permanent sealing up and paint.

pics would be interesting if you can.

j :happy
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shunkman
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by shunkman » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:04 am

Agree that SharkBite is one of the greatest inventions for DIY plumbing repairs. Order them from Amazon (cheaper than HD or Lowes) and save a few dollars while reducing potential virus exposure.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:15 am

Remember to get the Sharkbite removal tool so you can redo anything as needed.
It's a horseshoe shaped piece that depresses the "grabbers" (technical term) on the Sharkbite fitting.

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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:35 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:03 am
Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 am
I took 2 pictures but can't seem to find a way to display them in a post

It is definitely not coming from the faucet. It is at a 90 degree elbow and is clear that the side furthest from the water has a drip and is getting some green corrosion at the solder joint. The vertical pipe to the faucet is 4 feet away across a flat horizontal run. Any water dripping from the faucet would be falling down long before getting to this joint.

I wish I could post but the plumbers have all kinds of angles running around the ceiling for this run. I suppose I could just start a couple feet away and cut out a bunch of those angles and then cut just on the other side of this leaking elbow and use SharkBite and PEX to connect both sides and simplify things too? I need to watch youtube to see what needs to be done to install a SharkBite. This pipe is way up along the joist running horizontally - I assume if I cut at the elbow it could be pulled down a little to give some room to work but not sure.
Here's a link to the post image site.
https://postimages.org/

Yes. the green corrosion can be a sign of consistent dampness.

The Sharkbite connectors do work well. Not as solid as a well done soldered joint, though. I've done both. I suppose if you have trouble with the angles you could go from copper to flexible pex then back to copper again. Leave the access open for awhile, just temporary panel replacement, so you can check the pex joints over time before final permanent sealing up and paint.

pics would be interesting if you can.

j :happy
Trying here. In the larger photo I circled the area in red and then there is the close up. Luckily it is "open access" since this is in my utility room so there is no drywall ceiling. Makes me scared as to what is happening at other places in the house where there is drywall though! (about 80% of my basement is drywalled and finished)

Image

Image

rkhusky
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by rkhusky » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:41 am

I had something like that a year or so ago. You have to drain the line*, heat up the joint to melt the solder**, remove the joint***, cut the pipe to the right length for the sharkbite, clean the ends smooth with sandpaper, and put sharkbite elbow in place.

*If you don't drain the line, the torch will not heat the pipe hot enough to melt the solder.

** Watch out for that plastic pipe. I bought some heat resistant material to protect my floor joists, should work for plastic too.

*** Might get a gush of water if you end up changing the slope of the pipe the wrong way.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:46 am

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:35 am
Sandtrap wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 11:03 am
Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 am
I took 2 pictures but can't seem to find a way to display them in a post

It is definitely not coming from the faucet. It is at a 90 degree elbow and is clear that the side furthest from the water has a drip and is getting some green corrosion at the solder joint. The vertical pipe to the faucet is 4 feet away across a flat horizontal run. Any water dripping from the faucet would be falling down long before getting to this joint.

I wish I could post but the plumbers have all kinds of angles running around the ceiling for this run. I suppose I could just start a couple feet away and cut out a bunch of those angles and then cut just on the other side of this leaking elbow and use SharkBite and PEX to connect both sides and simplify things too? I need to watch youtube to see what needs to be done to install a SharkBite. This pipe is way up along the joist running horizontally - I assume if I cut at the elbow it could be pulled down a little to give some room to work but not sure.
Here's a link to the post image site.
https://postimages.org/

Yes. the green corrosion can be a sign of consistent dampness.

The Sharkbite connectors do work well. Not as solid as a well done soldered joint, though. I've done both. I suppose if you have trouble with the angles you could go from copper to flexible pex then back to copper again. Leave the access open for awhile, just temporary panel replacement, so you can check the pex joints over time before final permanent sealing up and paint.

pics would be interesting if you can.

j :happy
Trying here. In the larger photo I circled the area in red and then there is the close up. Luckily it is "open access" since this is in my utility room so there is no drywall ceiling. Makes me scared as to what is happening at other places in the house where there is drywall though! (about 80% of my basement is drywalled and finished)

Image

Image
Ugly looking solder joint😳
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Topic Author
Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:05 pm

If I am going to do SharkBite should I also just do a short run of PEX like this and cut off all those 90 elbows (it would run behind the silver HVAC pipe of course)?

I am always into DIYing stuff but I must say I am a little apprehensive about doing this where I could end up having a big blowout and make a big wet mess in my utility room and basement. I guess if it doesn't leak initially and then doesn't leak for a day or so then I'm probably fine with what I've done....or maybe it is one where discretion is the better part of valor and I should find a friend with some plumbing expertise to come do it...

Image

daheld
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by daheld » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:06 pm

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:05 pm
If I am going to do SharkBite should I also just do a short run of PEX like this and cut off all those 90 elbows (it would run behind the silver HVAC pipe of course)?

I am always into DIYing stuff but I must say I am a little apprehensive about doing this where I could end up having a big blowout and make a big wet mess in my utility room and basement. I guess if it doesn't leak initially and then doesn't leak for a day or so then I'm probably fine with what I've done....or maybe it is one where discretion is the better part of valor and I should find a friend with some plumbing expertise to come do it...

Image
You're obviously right above and it's not from the faucet but definitely from that solder joint. Repair it with Sharkbite as others have said. Use PEX if you find that more convenient or less daunting. There's no need to call someone. You can do this.

pqwerty
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by pqwerty » Tue Mar 31, 2020 1:12 pm

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:05 pm
If I am going to do SharkBite should I also just do a short run of PEX like this and cut off all those 90 elbows (it would run behind the silver HVAC pipe of course)?

I am always into DIYing stuff but I must say I am a little apprehensive about doing this where I could end up having a big blowout and make a big wet mess in my utility room and basement. I guess if it doesn't leak initially and then doesn't leak for a day or so then I'm probably fine with what I've done....or maybe it is one where discretion is the better part of valor and I should find a friend with some plumbing expertise to come do it...

Image
diy stuff is like investing, you will learn to manage your regret ... I would just fix whats broken.

TonyDAntonio
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by TonyDAntonio » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:07 pm

You can do this and it's out in the open so you can tell if you messed it up. I remodeled our master bath 5 years ago and had to do some soldering and waterproofing of the shower area. All first time stuff. I still look at the ceiling of the room below it to see if I messed it up. Take your time, watch plenty of YouTube vids and have at it.

gmc4h232
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by gmc4h232 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:12 pm

this looks like a job for FLEX SEAL!!!!!!!

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by lthenderson » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:12 pm

For me, Shark Bite fittings haven't been around long enough to know if they should be used everywhere. Inside the Shark Bite connector is a rubber seal that is actually what makes the watertight connection. Chlorine is regularly used in water supplies across the U.S. Chlorine will eventually degrade any kind of rubber over time. For your situation where they are visible in an unfinished basement, I think they have a place but I would never bury one in a wall.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by tetractys » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:42 pm

I would avoid gimmicks and just take off the elbow, clean up the elbow and pipe ends, and reinstall it. Your local hardware store can set you up with the right solder, flux, and stuff. Without any experience this will all take at least a few hours. Or go the easy route and pay the plumber. This will certainly fall within their minimum, so you can likely get help with some other things for no extra.
Last edited by tetractys on Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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iceport
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by iceport » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:46 pm

I would attempt that. My preference would be to just disassemble the joint, clean it up (wire brush while hot, then polish with emery cloth), and reassemble in-kind with better soldered joints.

You'll need to shield the PVC and the wood floor. Maybe a wet rag for the PVC and a tack a sheet metal shield to the floor, with maybe a wet rag behind it. A good torch makes a huge difference, you'll heat the work much faster than with the bargain basement kind that sometimes comes with the propane canisters. Electronic ignition with auto shut-off is a nice convenience, also.
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:55 pm

Do as you said with your pictures.
Snakebite and Pex. It will take you longer to go to Home Depot and buy that stuff then it will take to fix. Even ordering on line will take longer.

Solder, flux, a torch. Longer to do. Chance of fire or at least all that shielding.
I could fix it and be having a beer while you were still fussing around trying to be careful you don’t start a fire.
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tetractys
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by tetractys » Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:58 pm

You can also follow the traditional battleship tested quick fix. Place a small piece of rubber sheet over the hole and closely wrap it with string.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 5:10 pm

Given the picture and accessibility, I would do it correctly.

*Assuming the leak is in these joints (below)

Drain water thoroughly.

Remove fastening straps.

Sweat out the elbows on the upper and lower horizontal runs. Use a piece of sheet metal so the heat doesn't char the wood.
Sand and clean the ends of the horizontal runs.

Take apart the angle sections. Clean up well. Dry fit to old location. Use a sharpie to keep the angles right.
Resolder well, use a lot of flux.

Install rebuilt angle section. Use a metal shield. Put a soaking rag farther away from the joint so the heat doesn't spread too far.

Done

*If you don't know how to make a good solder joint, find someone who does. It is an art.
*Thoroughly clean and sand all joints prior to assembly.

Plumber or pro experienced DIY would have this done in under an hour including breaks. :happy

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MishkaWorries
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by MishkaWorries » Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:02 pm

I had something very similar about 10 years ago. A joint that lost solder and dripped a little. I put some marine epoxy putty (cheap and easy hand molding) on there until I called the plumber. 10 years later I still haven't called the plumber. :twisted:

I'm sure that's not code and I'll have to repair if we ever sell.
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Carson » Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:32 pm

I know some of you are joking about flex seal and duct tape but they make a plumbers epoxy exactly for things like this. We re-piped our house and had one pesky joint out of a hundred. The epoxy saved the day.
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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:51 pm

iceport wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:46 pm
I would attempt that. My preference would be to just disassemble the joint, clean it up (wire brush while hot, then polish with emery cloth), and reassemble in-kind with better soldered joints.

You'll need to shield the PVC and the wood floor. Maybe a wet rag for the PVC and a tack a sheet metal shield to the floor, with maybe a wet rag behind it. A good torch makes a huge difference, you'll heat the work much faster than with the bargain basement kind that sometimes comes with the propane canisters. Electronic ignition with auto shut-off is a nice convenience, also.
tetractys wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:42 pm
I would avoid gimmicks and just take off the elbow, clean up the elbow and pipe ends, and reinstall it. Your local hardware store can set you up with the right solder, flux, and stuff. Without any experience this will all take at least a few hours. Or go the easy route and pay the plumber. This will certainly fall within their minimum, so you can likely get help with some other things for no extra.
Thanks all for the advice

For you two suggesting to get that joint resoldered (which my gut also feels like may be best...gotta think soldered joint and copper pipe should last at least as long as SharkBite)….so you heat it and pull that elbow off in both places I assume? then you just clean up the existing pipe or do you need to cut back away from those ends and put in new copper pipe with some couplings further out on the straight pipe and then a new elbow attached to the new pieces (maybe just a few inches) of copper pipe? I would think avoiding more cuts and more solder joints would be best, so trying to just put a new elbow onto the existing pipes without cutting them at all?

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Boglegrappler » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:09 pm

Soldering has some basic principles involved.

Clean up the joints with wire brush, emory paper, or whatever it takes to get the copper shiny.

Get the joint nice and dry before you try to resolder.

Use plumbers solder flux and plumbers solder. Not electrical solder.

KEY: In all soldering get the work (meaning the joint components) hot enough to melt the solder. Don't melt the solder with the torch. When the work is heated enough to melt the solder, and has been properly coated with flux in advance, the solder will "wick" into the joint and flow around it to make a good seal. You'll have to make sure to feed enough solder to the gap of the joint at the point where this temperature is reached.

I'm sure there are some good plumbing soldering videos on youtube. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require a little skill. Soldering over your head will make it more tricky. Open flames, melting metal, and nearby plastic give you some mild challenges. You don't want a drop of hot solder in the eye, or even just on your face.

Good luck. For as infrequently as you are likely to use this soldering skill in the future, it might be worthwhile to call a plumber. :)

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Mister E » Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:26 pm

Sometimes the original plumber didn't clean the flux off the joint and it causes quick degradation?
That said: Also check how well your water shut off valves are working before you get involved in soldering projects of these types, much more difficult to do a good job if you even have a small trickle of water getting through. I also agree use mapp gas instead of propane if possible. Fill some buckets of water to use for any cleaning before you shut your water off. Maybe thin latex gloves too. Some cussing is acceptable during this type of work.
Sharkbites are fine also but choice 2 for me. Sharkbites may be preferable if you can't get the water to shut off completely.

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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:29 pm

Boglegrappler wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:09 pm
Soldering has some basic principles involved.

Clean up the joints with wire brush, emory paper, or whatever it takes to get the copper shiny.

Get the joint nice and dry before you try to resolder.

Use plumbers solder flux and plumbers solder. Not electrical solder.

KEY: In all soldering get the work (meaning the joint components) hot enough to melt the solder. Don't melt the solder with the torch. When the work is heated enough to melt the solder, and has been properly coated with flux in advance, the solder will "wick" into the joint and flow around it to make a good seal. You'll have to make sure to feed enough solder to the gap of the joint at the point where this temperature is reached.

I'm sure there are some good plumbing soldering videos on youtube. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require a little skill. Soldering over your head will make it more tricky. Open flames, melting metal, and nearby plastic give you some mild challenges. You don't want a drop of hot solder in the eye, or even just on your face.

Good luck. For as infrequently as you are likely to use this soldering skill in the future, it might be worthwhile to call a plumber. :)
I might agree with you...

I have learned lots of DIY stuff for home and car that I use now, but I can totally see that this would take a little practice, and agree that for my first try, doing it up against the wood joist and beside a PVC tube and trying to avoid the drips of molten solder may mean that this doesn't turn out the way I want it to. I have an HVAC friend so maybe he does some plumbing work or he certainly "knows people". Sometimes better to pay a little more and be done with it.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:50 pm

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 7:51 pm
iceport wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:46 pm
I would attempt that. My preference would be to just disassemble the joint, clean it up (wire brush while hot, then polish with emery cloth), and reassemble in-kind with better soldered joints.

You'll need to shield the PVC and the wood floor. Maybe a wet rag for the PVC and a tack a sheet metal shield to the floor, with maybe a wet rag behind it. A good torch makes a huge difference, you'll heat the work much faster than with the bargain basement kind that sometimes comes with the propane canisters. Electronic ignition with auto shut-off is a nice convenience, also.
tetractys wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 4:42 pm
I would avoid gimmicks and just take off the elbow, clean up the elbow and pipe ends, and reinstall it. Your local hardware store can set you up with the right solder, flux, and stuff. Without any experience this will all take at least a few hours. Or go the easy route and pay the plumber. This will certainly fall within their minimum, so you can likely get help with some other things for no extra.
Thanks all for the advice

For you two suggesting to get that joint resoldered (which my gut also feels like may be best...gotta think soldered joint and copper pipe should last at least as long as SharkBite)….so you heat it and pull that elbow off in both places I assume? then you just clean up the existing pipe or do you need to cut back away from those ends and put in new copper pipe with some couplings further out on the straight pipe and then a new elbow attached to the new pieces (maybe just a few inches) of copper pipe? I would think avoiding more cuts and more solder joints would be best, so trying to just put a new elbow onto the existing pipes without cutting them at all?
Sweat the joint where each elbow meets the upper and lower horizontal runs and pull that angled section out.

You can make a new identical one with cut sections of copper pipe and new elbows, (use a tubing cutter, clean joints in and out thoroughly with sandpaper or use the pipe joint prep tool thing that wire brushes it by rotating it) Copy the angles exactly by dry fitting it back into place, mark with a sharpie then take it off and solder the joints up except for the elbows on the end, slip the whole thing onto the horizontals, then solder up the elbows. Use a wet rag farther up the horizontals to control heat, also near the elbows when you're assembling for the same reason.

Flux all joints before assembling and just a touch before soldering when the pipe is a bit hot. Use a mapp gas torch with an electric pushbutton on. It runs hotter than standard propane and makes better welds and controls heat better. Heat the pipe and joint, not the solder. You should be able to touch the solder and feed it into the joint with just the heat of the pipe. Use a lead blend solder if you can get it in your area.

If you're good at soldering then just install the whole thing without presoldering and solder all the joints in place. It's overhead so wear long sleeves and eye protection. Solder drips leave scars. Keep the flux off your skin as it can burn and definitely burns your eyes. It can drip off the pipes when your torch is on it.

You can try resoldering the existing pipe sections instead of making a new one. Either heat it up and take it apart and clean up the joints by heating each end and when the solder is running wipe it with a damp/wet rag. Wear leather gloves to do this. That removes the solder. Or you can try just heating each joint, flux it, then add a touch of solder to refill the joint.

In the past, I've always just made a new section like you have because I know it's going to be a clean job with no leaks and much faster than messing with the old parts. If there's no choice, I have redone existing sections and it came out fine though the welds doing look as nice even if wiped down when hot and touched up. And, especially if unsure where the leak is, it's better to just make a new section.

This stuff goes pretty quick if you have all your materials and proper good tools, good solder (not junk solder), and good flux.

Be sure to get every drop of water that you can out of those pipes because trying to sweat in new pipes when there's water in there is a PITA.

Be sure to use a metal shield behind your pipe so the wood does not char or get burn marks on it. Homeowners don't like that. :|

If you have some scrap pipe and some elbows or unions, you can practice soldering outside to get the hang of it. There is a "sense to it" as far as hot but not too hot, and a timing to when to flux more and solder. Sweating some nice joints quickly takes a lot of practice. But, remember, even the best plumbers will have an occasional leak or two when soldering up a new home that's fully copper piped.

Hope this helps.
j :happy
Last edited by Sandtrap on Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:57 pm

Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:29 pm
Boglegrappler wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:09 pm
Soldering has some basic principles involved.

Clean up the joints with wire brush, emory paper, or whatever it takes to get the copper shiny.

Get the joint nice and dry before you try to resolder.

Use plumbers solder flux and plumbers solder. Not electrical solder.

KEY: In all soldering get the work (meaning the joint components) hot enough to melt the solder. Don't melt the solder with the torch. When the work is heated enough to melt the solder, and has been properly coated with flux in advance, the solder will "wick" into the joint and flow around it to make a good seal. You'll have to make sure to feed enough solder to the gap of the joint at the point where this temperature is reached.

I'm sure there are some good plumbing soldering videos on youtube. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require a little skill. Soldering over your head will make it more tricky. Open flames, melting metal, and nearby plastic give you some mild challenges. You don't want a drop of hot solder in the eye, or even just on your face.

Good luck. For as infrequently as you are likely to use this soldering skill in the future, it might be worthwhile to call a plumber. :)
I might agree with you...

I have learned lots of DIY stuff for home and car that I use now, but I can totally see that this would take a little practice, and agree that for my first try, doing it up against the wood joist and beside a PVC tube and trying to avoid the drips of molten solder may mean that this doesn't turn out the way I want it to. I have an HVAC friend so maybe he does some plumbing work or he certainly "knows people". Sometimes better to pay a little more and be done with it.
HVAC guys can solder pipes because they have to do that for refrigerant lines, etc. It will be a piece of cake for him.
He might be able to find the exact leak and just resolder the joint in place.
j :happy
Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Cubicle » Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 pm

I don't know about shark bite fittings like others have said. In your open space, I guess. My go to is always solder. When that isn't an option, I use compression fittings. In my opinion, as sturdy as solder, both of which are better than shark bite. ✓✓✓ I have buried compression fittings behind walls & (knock on wood), haven't had to revisit them in years. And compression fittings I've left out in the open & dry & not green years later.
"Oh look another bajillion point declin-Ooooh!!! A coupon for pizza!!!!" <--- This is what everyone's IPS should be. ✓✓✓

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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:17 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:57 pm
Hogan773 wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:29 pm
Boglegrappler wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 8:09 pm
Soldering has some basic principles involved.

Clean up the joints with wire brush, emory paper, or whatever it takes to get the copper shiny.

Get the joint nice and dry before you try to resolder.

Use plumbers solder flux and plumbers solder. Not electrical solder.

KEY: In all soldering get the work (meaning the joint components) hot enough to melt the solder. Don't melt the solder with the torch. When the work is heated enough to melt the solder, and has been properly coated with flux in advance, the solder will "wick" into the joint and flow around it to make a good seal. You'll have to make sure to feed enough solder to the gap of the joint at the point where this temperature is reached.

I'm sure there are some good plumbing soldering videos on youtube. It's not rocket surgery, but it does require a little skill. Soldering over your head will make it more tricky. Open flames, melting metal, and nearby plastic give you some mild challenges. You don't want a drop of hot solder in the eye, or even just on your face.

Good luck. For as infrequently as you are likely to use this soldering skill in the future, it might be worthwhile to call a plumber. :)
I might agree with you...

I have learned lots of DIY stuff for home and car that I use now, but I can totally see that this would take a little practice, and agree that for my first try, doing it up against the wood joist and beside a PVC tube and trying to avoid the drips of molten solder may mean that this doesn't turn out the way I want it to. I have an HVAC friend so maybe he does some plumbing work or he certainly "knows people". Sometimes better to pay a little more and be done with it.
HVAC guys can solder pipes because they have to do that for refrigerant lines, etc. It will be a piece of cake for him.
He might be able to find the exact leak and just resolder the joint in place.
j :happy
Good to know. I think he told me he has done water heaters too. .Maybe I get the friends and family discount and that would certainly be easier if he has all the tools and it saves me the time and investment of trying it out.

And it is obvious from the picture where the leak is so we know what joint to fix. Maybe as easy as sweating that side of the elbow, pulling it out and cleaning it and then resoldering the elbow again

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Chuck107 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:29 am

Pex pipe and sharkbite fittings as already suggested.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Apr 01, 2020 8:16 am

Cubicle wrote:
Tue Mar 31, 2020 10:58 pm
I don't know about shark bite fittings like others have said. In your open space, I guess. My go to is always solder. When that isn't an option, I use compression fittings. In my opinion, as sturdy as solder, both of which are better than shark bite. ✓✓✓ I have buried compression fittings behind walls & (knock on wood), haven't had to revisit them in years. And compression fittings I've left out in the open & dry & not green years later.
+1
For customers as well as my own home, I'd duplicate whatever the original install was unless it isn't possible. Then, yes, compression fittings. Have used Sharbites on several new installs but that was different. Well soldered copper lines will last lifetimes.

j :happy
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by alfaspider » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:32 am

If you are going to try to solder, I'd suggest trying a few joints with scrap pipe on a workbench first. My first two attempts a soldering a copper pipe joint were no good because I didn't have a feel for the amount of heat or flux needed. After a somewhat better second try (still leaky), the third and forth were successful.

This job is even tougher for a first timer because of the location. Make sure you have something behind the pipe to shield the heat so you aren't starting a fire and make sure you aren't directly below the joint!

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by lthenderson » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:11 am

Hogan773 wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:17 am
And it is obvious from the picture where the leak is so we know what joint to fix. Maybe as easy as sweating that side of the elbow, pulling it out and cleaning it and then resoldering the elbow again
I have found that it is another level of difficulty to sweat out an old fitting, clean it and try to reuse it versus just starting over with a new fittings. When I bought this house full of copper piping, I bought a soldering kit, a length of copper pipe and a bag of elbows and coupling fittings. The fittings are cheap so I practiced with a handful out in my garage learning to solder in optimum conditions. Once you properly heat it and see how the solder gets wicked into a fluxed joint a couple times, you are good to go. I've since completed dozens of projects over the years soldering. I think it is a great skill to know how to do.

If this were my project, I would cut the elbow out with a couple inches of straight pipe on either side of the elbow or long enough to a point where you can easily get into with your torch. I would then solder a new elbow onto a couple straight pieces of pipe with a coupling on each end. Then fit that assembly onto your pipes and solder the last two joints. Like others have mentioned, the key is to make sure your pipes are very dry. If there is moisture in them, when heated it forms steam and will prevent the solder from wicking properly. I have had cases where it is hard to get a horizontal pipe to dry up enough to get a good solder joint. One trick I have used in such a case is to stick a bit of wonder bread into the pipe that is leaking water and then solder up the joint quickly. The bread absorbs the water temporarily to allow you to get the solder in place and then dissolves and gets flushed out.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by lthenderson » Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:14 am

Another tip that I do. Many houses of certain vintages will have very few shut-off valves installed. Mine only had the main shutoff and that was it. So anytime I'm working on a line going to a particular area of the house, I will buy a ball valve and install it while doing my repair so in the future, I can just shut off that particular area to work on it instead of the entire house.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by mpnret » Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:20 pm

If you are looking for a quick and dirty temporary solution to stop the drip try a stainless steel hose clamp. Use a quality one with a hex head so you can tighten it with a socket. Put it on the fitting and tighten. I know, it doesn't sound like a clamp made for a flexible hose is going to have much effect on a copper fitting but it has worked for me in the past.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Harry Livermore » Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:19 pm

I'd agree with the others who suggested to remove the old fitting and clean up the pipe and re-solder with a new fitting. It's very satisfying to get it right and not hard to do with some practice. Buy a length of copper pipe and some fittings, put the pipe in a vise, and practice a few. When you do the repair, protect the PVC and wood as others have said. And wear goggles and long sleeves, and stand off to the side. A ball of molten solder is no joke.
MAPP gas is your friend and will help you succeed.
Of course, a sharkbite/ pex will work for the purposes of a repair. As others have pointed out, you will now be trusting a small o-ring to stay water tight for the duration of your tenure there. If it were my house, I would re-do the original way.
A tip of the hat to Ithenderson for the suggestion of adding a valve (our house is circa 1959 and while it has quite a lot of shut offs in good locations, I have been replacing them, as I make repairs, with 1/4-turn ball valves)
Anyway, certainly no shame in a successful DIY repair no matter which way you go. Good luck!
Cheers

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sandtrap » Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:24 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:11 am
Hogan773 wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 7:17 am
And it is obvious from the picture where the leak is so we know what joint to fix. Maybe as easy as sweating that side of the elbow, pulling it out and cleaning it and then resoldering the elbow again
I have found that it is another level of difficulty to sweat out an old fitting, clean it and try to reuse it versus just starting over with a new fittings. When I bought this house full of copper piping, I bought a soldering kit, a length of copper pipe and a bag of elbows and coupling fittings. The fittings are cheap so I practiced with a handful out in my garage learning to solder in optimum conditions. Once you properly heat it and see how the solder gets wicked into a fluxed joint a couple times, you are good to go. I've since completed dozens of projects over the years soldering. I think it is a great skill to know how to do.

If this were my project, I would cut the elbow out with a couple inches of straight pipe on either side of the elbow or long enough to a point where you can easily get into with your torch. I would then solder a new elbow onto a couple straight pieces of pipe with a coupling on each end. Then fit that assembly onto your pipes and solder the last two joints. Like others have mentioned, the key is to make sure your pipes are very dry. If there is moisture in them, when heated it forms steam and will prevent the solder from wicking properly. I have had cases where it is hard to get a horizontal pipe to dry up enough to get a good solder joint. One trick I have used in such a case is to stick a bit of wonder bread into the pipe that is leaking water and then solder up the joint quickly. The bread absorbs the water temporarily to allow you to get the solder in place and then dissolves and gets flushed out.
Great points!
"Wick". . . that was the word I was thinking of. . .
Too hot and the solder wicks in and drips out. :|
Too cold and it won't wick. . . :| :|
Not enough flux, dirty joint, poor fit, no wicking :x

Just right. . . . a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. . . . :D


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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:36 pm

Harry Livermore wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:19 pm
I'd agree with the others who suggested to remove the old fitting and clean up the pipe and re-solder with a new fitting. It's very satisfying to get it right and not hard to do with some practice. Buy a length of copper pipe and some fittings, put the pipe in a vise, and practice a few. When you do the repair, protect the PVC and wood as others have said. And wear goggles and long sleeves, and stand off to the side. A ball of molten solder is no joke.
MAPP gas is your friend and will help you succeed.
Of course, a sharkbite/ pex will work for the purposes of a repair. As others have pointed out, you will now be trusting a small o-ring to stay water tight for the duration of your tenure there. If it were my house, I would re-do the original way.
A tip of the hat to Ithenderson for the suggestion of adding a valve (our house is circa 1959 and while it has quite a lot of shut offs in good locations, I have been replacing them, as I make repairs, with 1/4-turn ball valves)
Anyway, certainly no shame in a successful DIY repair no matter which way you go. Good luck!
Cheers
Harry Livermore wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:19 pm
I'd agree with the others who suggested to remove the old fitting and clean up the pipe and re-solder with a new fitting. It's very satisfying to get it right and not hard to do with some practice. Buy a length of copper pipe and some fittings, put the pipe in a vise, and practice a few. When you do the repair, protect the PVC and wood as others have said. And wear goggles and long sleeves, and stand off to the side. A ball of molten solder is no joke.
MAPP gas is your friend and will help you succeed.
Of course, a sharkbite/ pex will work for the purposes of a repair. As others have pointed out, you will now be trusting a small o-ring to stay water tight for the duration of your tenure there. If it were my house, I would re-do the original way.
A tip of the hat to Ithenderson for the suggestion of adding a valve (our house is circa 1959 and while it has quite a lot of shut offs in good locations, I have been replacing them, as I make repairs, with 1/4-turn ball valves)
Anyway, certainly no shame in a successful DIY repair no matter which way you go. Good luck!
Cheers
I hear you and I must say in watching some YouTubes last night that I can see the satisfaction in that nice even flow of solder, and then wiping it nice and smooth.

I also agree that in this situation I would prefer to just get it soldered up again (prob with new fittings) rather than have a push to fit rubber washer sitting in the system for the next few decades. I'm going to check with my HVAC friend. I actually would like to learn to solder at some point, and I could see doing my own water heater replacements at some point here (although I'm not sure that is actually soldering is it? If I recall there is a fitting on top of the water heater that was wrenched on to the copper pipe). But if he can do me a favor or even if he charges me 50 or 100 bucks or something, this should be a piece of cake for him and would save me from spending money on a MAPP torch and flux/solder etc. I already have a blue Bernzomatic torch but it is just propane and not MAPP. And the ceiling mounted position and somewhat tight access due to HVAC pipe, PVC pipe and wood joist all leads me to think I am going to be cursing a lot, potentially screw up something, end up with a bigger leak and then have an emergency call to the plumber anyway, etc. I think best to just see what the friend can offer first before tackling this one. If it were in a more accessible position though I would definitely attempt it as I have confidence I could do a solder joint.

Oh and by the way - thanks for all the guidance. I am pleasantly surprised how much I can learn on this Boglehead forum away from just the $$$ and Vanguard funds advice. I think it is because we are all probably similar people in a way, so we probably have similar views on how to get a deal on things, or how to DIY something rather than paying someone to do it, etc.

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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Sheepdog » Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:40 pm

It is possible that the copper pipe was cheap, not thick enough, and perhaps generally poor quality. My story: About 20 years ago, over a period of about 1 to 2 years the copper pipes in the crawl space would leak. The first time my wife would hear (my hearing was poor) a sound like a spray of water on to the floor. I crawled down there and there was a spray from a pin hole in the pipe, not a joint but the pipe. A plumber replaced a section. The plumber showed the piece he removed. Poor quality indeed. The same thing happened several more times over a period of time. (Interesting it never happened within walls). I hired a plumber to replace all of the pipes down there, but not within the walls. I have not had any leaks since.
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese Proverb

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Hogan773
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Re: Small drip from copper pipe

Post by Hogan773 » Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:33 pm

Sheepdog wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 1:40 pm
It is possible that the copper pipe was cheap, not thick enough, and perhaps generally poor quality. My story: About 20 years ago, over a period of about 1 to 2 years the copper pipes in the crawl space would leak. The first time my wife would hear (my hearing was poor) a sound like a spray of water on to the floor. I crawled down there and there was a spray from a pin hole in the pipe, not a joint but the pipe. A plumber replaced a section. The plumber showed the piece he removed. Poor quality indeed. The same thing happened several more times over a period of time. (Interesting it never happened within walls). I hired a plumber to replace all of the pipes down there, but not within the walls. I have not had any leaks since.
possible but in this case it looks to be a bad solder joint. Pretty obvious from the location of the drip and the blue corrosion right at that seam. And as someone else said above "ugly solder job!"

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