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What are my chances?

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  • What are my chances?

    I'm re-piping my house in copper, except for where the existing galvanized pipe goes up through the floor to feed the bathroom (I'd rather isolate the copper from the galvy than tear out the vanity and part of the wall just to get 3 feet of more copper in there) . It's all exposed in the basement and easily accessible.

    My problem... Every one of the 5 lines going up into the bathroom wall above (2 for the shower, 2 for the sink, and 1 for the toilet) has a 50 year old 12-sided 1/2" union on it. That's been painted. Oh joy.

    What's my best bet for getting these off and still having threads that are usable enough to reconnect back to with a brass coupling?

    I was thinking an 18" pipe wrench to hold the pipe and a ridgid hex wrench to turn the union. Would heating it with a torch help my case any?

  • #2
    Re: What are my chances?

    best bet would be to bring up new copper through the cabinet floor if you have cabinets and go with a straight stop. same for the toilet.

    the shower and tub would either be, cut the wall open and connect directly to the brass valve, or cut the line in the basement horizontal and reconnect to the 90 with brass. then wait til you remodel to do the riser.

    rick.
    phoebe it is

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    • #3
      Re: What are my chances?

      drilling through the bottom of the cabinets isn't an option. there's a giant beam that runs right smack under where i'd need to drill, AND i just got done painting the wall behind the bathroom I'd need to tear part of out to get to the shower, so that isn't an option either.

      Those unions are coming off one way or another. It's going to be a good looking copper job, damnit!

      is sawzalling the slip-nuts on the union (saw straight down on them from the top to avoid cutting into the thread) a risky maneuver?

      Or should I just stick with the wrenches?

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      • #4
        Re: What are my chances?

        You can certainly saw a channel down the fitting to releave tension on the pipe thread. You can also heat the joint with your torch and gently knock it a few times with a hammer. Then your pipe wrenches should easily do the job. Just be careful that you don't break the joints that are up in the wall.

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        • #5
          Re: What are my chances?

          i think i'm gonna take my chances and try one of those.

          The mains feeding it are already run about 1' below the floor joists on some unistrut I mounted to a block wall. since the risers that feed the fixtures shoot straight up that wall, I was planning on teeing off at each one at 45 degrees back and then putting a street 45 to get over to the wall, and then its a straight shot up to the coupling. It's gonna look real nice when I'm done.

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          • #6
            Re: What are my chances?

            If you cant go all the way with copper why not put your brass nipple in the bottom off the union...
            it is more likely to still have a thread
            if it dont look good go a little further up and hope for the best
            When the remodel day comes you need to change it

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            • #7
              Re: What are my chances?

              sometimes threaded fittings don't always cooperate as much as you would like

              try the pipe wrenches first, then the suggestion to heat the nipple with a torch (be sure to let it cool COMPLETELY before wrenching on it again)

              I second the suggestion to start before the union first. That way, if you mess up some threads, you might have a second shot.

              I had some 1" galvanized pipe the other day that I couldn't get apart with 24" and 36" wrenches. They had been assembled with a high strength anerobic pipe sealant, and had been outdoors for 5 years or more.

              I don't mean to discourage you, just be prepared for things not going as planned; because sometimes they do.

              Good Luck

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              • #8
                Re: What are my chances?

                Often times we get into reworking 50+ year old boiler lines. To get them apart we use a saw to cut both sides of the fitting and then use a cold chisel and break the fitting right off the pipe. Just be careful not to cut into the treads of the pipe you are saving. This process does work everytime if you don't mess up the threads...take your time.

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                • #9
                  Re: What are my chances?

                  Originally posted by Kevin Jones View Post
                  Often times we get into reworking 50+ year old boiler lines. To get them apart we use a saw to cut both sides of the fitting and then use a cold chisel and break the fitting right off the pipe. Just be careful not to cut into the treads of the pipe you are saving. This process does work everytime if you don't mess up the threads...take your time.
                  It's likely you're breaking apart heavy cast iron fittings on an old boiler system. I wouldn't encourage him to try using a cold chisel on an old galvanized union, although it could be done. I like the idea of cutting down the side of the pipe on the fitting to relieve tension. But you have to be very very careful.

                  If you try and use pipe wrenches first make sure you get a 3 point bite on the fitting so you don't egg shape it.

                  What about using a dresser coupling in your state? They aren't legal here in Minnesota, but if they're legal where you are then you could just cut the union off and use a dresser coupling. (Just a thought). Of course, then it won't be a good looking copper job.

                  God luck!!
                  Time flies like an arrow.

                  Fruit flies like a banana.

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