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  • The Plumbing X-Files

    In my many years in the trade I have seen a number of unexplainable things. The most recent is this:

    Part of my recent factory move project is a new chilled water system. It was specified for sch. 80 PVC glued joints. Upon starting-up the pumps we had no problem. They are running at about 65 psi. After about ten minutes I noticed a drip on a riser pipe dropping down from about twenty feet. I determined that we let the system run for another hour before shutting down to repair, so we could make sure there were no other problems. After ten more minutes I heard a boom, and the water began to flow from the same fitting. After shutting down the pumps one of my plumbers went up on a lift and found the the 1-1/2" fitting was unglued. I don't know how it could have held that pressure for so long.

    I've seen similiar in copper. Do any of you have strange stories?

    the dog
    the dog

  • #2
    I’ve had two separate occasions where an un-sweated copper fitting lasted 6-months or better in service before it leaked. Both were by employees who were very capable but I filed it under stuff happens.

    One of my favorite weird happenings was at a beach house we had built for Cher. A year after we had finished the job I got a call saying she had a leak coming through her kitchen ceiling. When I got out there she had a leak but I could not recall any fittings in the area of the leak. As the ceiling was faux painted to look like flag stone I hated to cut the ceiling.

    I finally cut a hole in the ceiling in the shape of one of the faux flag stones. I found the leak right at the point where the pipe passed through a joist. As there still was no fitting I figured it had to be a bad piece of pipe. After cutting the pipe on either side of the joist I still could not get the pipe out.

    As it turned out, when the framer was nailing (by hand) the sheeting on the second floor he drove a nail through ¾” of plywood, a Dottie plate, an inch of joist and then in and out of a ¾” piece of type L copper. Not only did he have enough force to go through all of those materials, but he drove the nail hard enough it sealed the nail hole to where it didn’t leak until the nail started rusting a year later.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      HOW ABOUT THE MYSTERY PILOT LITE.
      I SHUT THE GAS OFF TO A VERY LARGE HOUSE, MANSION TO RUN SOME NEW GAS PIPING TO A NEW WATER HEATER. AFTER MANY HOURS OF THE SYSTEM BEING OFF AND APART, I TURNED THE GAS BACK ON AND WENT TO LITE THE APPLIANCES. WHEN I GOT UPSTAIRS TO THE SAUNA HEATER, IT WAS ALREADY LIT. NO THIS IS NOT AN ELECTRONIC IGNITION UNIT.

      PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT HAPPEND?

      RICK.

      MORE TO COME

      Comment


      • #4
        MARK, WE WERE POSTING AT THE SAME TIME.

        WAS THIS THE HOUSE IN MALIBU ON PCH, THAT LOOKS LIKE A CASTLE?

        1 YEAR FOR A NAIL HOLE. TRY 10 YEARS. A SMALLER GALVANIZED BRAD FROM THE T-BAR CEILING INSTALLER. HE HAD NAILED THE WALL CORNER METAL THROUGH THE COPPER LINE WHEN THE BUILDING WAS BUILT. 10 YEARS LATER I HAD TO FIND AND FIX THE LEAK.

        RICK.

        TOLD YOU MORE TO COME.

        Comment


        • #5
          Rick,

          Neat trick!

          Could it be it was a large enough system and as gas is lighter than air the piping had risdual gas left in the upper floor piping?

          Mark
          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

          Comment


          • #6
            MARK, VERY GOOD. THIS WAS THE ONLY WAY THAT I COULD EXPLAIN IT. THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF PIPING IN THE SYSTEM AND THIS WAS AT THE TOP OF THE SYSTEM. AIR HAD NOT ENTERED THE PILOT YET.

            I'LL COME UP WITH A REAL STUMPER. JUST NEED SOME TIME TO REMEMBER ALL THE GOOD ONES.

            RICK.

            Comment


            • #7
              Okay I have another one for you and it’s something to watch out for.

              . I was representing a plumber on a townhouse project across from Pasadena College. The water heaters on this project were located in a closet on the second floor of the units. The Plaintiff’s Expert was critical of the T&P drain line which the plumber had tied into the drain line of the Smitty pan.

              While I admitted it’s was not a legal installation I still asked the Plaintiff’s Expert what concerns he had with the way it was installed. With five of us standing there he lifted the poppet valve on the T&P thinking water would run back into the pan. Instead as he opened the T&P we were all engulfed in a fireball which filled the entire upper hallway.

              Of course we were all shocked but remarkably no one was injured. The Plaintiff’s Expert immediately surmised the flame was a roll out caused by trapped air in the water heater blowing the pilot flame out of the water heater with the burner gas following. I disagreed with him but had no idea what had just happened.

              After a lot of research I learned that air which is trapped in a water heater can turn into a flammable gas over time. This unit was a year old and still had not been occupied. When the Plaintiff’s Expert opened the T&P valve it released the air which had been trapped at the top of the water heater for a year.

              That now flammable gas went down the T&P drain line and blew through the Smitty pan ignited by the pilot and thus causing the fireball. While the air had turned into a flammable gas the gas had a very low temperature when ignited. So while the fireball shocked us the flame was not hot enough to burn us. We still paid to run a new dedicated line for the T&P.

              Mark
              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK:
                MARK, WE WERE POSTING AT THE SAME TIME.

                WAS THIS THE HOUSE IN MALIBU ON PCH, THAT LOOKS LIKE A CASTLE?

                1 YEAR FOR A NAIL HOLE. TRY 10 YEARS. A SMALLER GALVANIZED BRAD FROM THE T-BAR CEILING INSTALLER. HE HAD NAILED THE WALL CORNER METAL THROUGH THE COPPER LINE WHEN THE BUILDING WAS BUILT. 10 YEARS LATER I HAD TO FIND AND FIX THE LEAK.

                RICK.

                TOLD YOU MORE TO COME.
                No this was her house in the Malibu Colonies. Cher was in 72B and Barbara Streisand was in 72A at the time. We ended up with a two fer and did both homes. This was the third home we had done for Cher but the first and only for Streisand.

                I also had a galvanize brad for baseboard which penetrated a copper riser. Every time I’d show up with my locator the leak would stop. Still I could see the hardwood floors were cupping from water damage. I finally told the owner I needed to pull the baseboard to open the wall with the riser. When I pulled the base board the water shot across the room.

                Mark
                "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                Comment


                • #9
                  MARK, COULD THE HYDROGEN IN THE H20 IGNITED? COULD THE BREAKING DOWN OF THE ANOIDE ROD, MAGNESIUM CAUSED A GAS OFF?
                  IF THE HEATER WAS FULL OF WATER AT THE ORIGINAL INSTALLATION, AND ALL THE AIR WAS BLED OFF WHILE FILLING. CAN THIS STILL HAPPEN. WILL THE HEATER CONTINUE TO HEAT AND PRESSURE, EXPANSION CREATE AN AIR POCKET, ASSUMING THAT WATER WAS NEVER USED OR THE SYSTEM WAS NEVER DRAINED TO INTRODUCE NEW AIR IN THE HEATER?

                  CURIOUS ABOUT THIS.
                  RICK.

                  A GOOD SELLING POINT FOR THE NEW FLAME GUARD HEATERS.

                  [ 08-10-2005, 01:13 AM: Message edited by: PLUMBER RICK ]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    MANY YEARS AGO WHEN I GOT MY FIRST SEWER CAMERA, I WAS STILL LEARNING HOW TO SPOT THINGS. EVERYTHING LOOKED GOOD ON THIS 6'' NO HUB SEWER LINE. THE CONCRETE WALL IN THE GARAGE WAS SEEPING WATER THROUGH THE WALL AND THE SEWER WAS A SUSPECT. AFTER RUNNING THE CAMERA FOR THE SECOND TIME, I SPOTTED THE PROBLEM THANKS TO THE COCKROACHES. THEY KNEW HOW TO GET OUT OF THE WAY OF THE CAMERA. I SPOTTED THE BREAK IN THE LINE THANKS TO THE BUGS.

                    THE ISSUE WAS A LOOSE BAND AT THE JOINT. ALL LOOKED GOOD FROM THE CAMERA'S VIEW, BUT THE BND ALLOWED THESE CRITTERS TO TRAVEL AT WILL AND THUS THE LEAKING WALL IN THE GARAGE.

                    RICK.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK:
                      MARK, COULD THE HYDROGEN IN THE H20 IGNITED? COULD THE BREAKING DOWN OF THE ANOIDE ROD, MAGNESIUM CAUSED A GAS OFF?
                      IF THE HEATER WAS FULL OF WATER AT THE ORIGINAL INSTALLATION, AND ALL THE AIR WAS BLED OFF WHILE FILLING. CAN THIS STILL HAPPEN. WILL THE HEATER CONTINUE TO HEAT AND PRESSURE, EXPANSION CREATE AN AIR POCKET, ASSUMING THAT WATER WAS NEVER USED OR THE SYSTEM WAS NEVER DRAINED TO INTRODUCE NEW AIR IN THE HEATER?

                      CURIOUS ABOUT THIS.
                      RICK.

                      A GOOD SELLING POINT FOR THE NEW FLAME GUARD HEATERS.
                      Rick,

                      What I found out is hydrogen gas can be produced in a hot water system as quickly as two weeks of non-use. The anoide will even cause more gas to be produced. In addition the hydrogen gas will migrate to the top of the piping system. This made the second floor water heater even more problematic.

                      There have been reports of small fires at faucets from people turning their faucets on while holding a cigarette. Now that's freaky.

                      Mark
                      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OK. LAST ONE FOR TONIGHT.

                        WAS CALLED TO FIND A SMELL IN A VERY LARGE BEL AIRE HOME. THIS WAS A HOME THAT IS SEASONAL USE FOR A SAUDI PRINCE.

                        WAS IT A DRY TRAP, OR STALE AIR. A DEAD ANIMAL? SMELLED MORE IN ONE PART OF THE HOUSE THAN OTHERS.

                        I SUGGESTED A SMOKE TEST ON THE WASTE AND VENT SYSTEM. THIS WAS TEST THAT I DIDN'T HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE OR EQUIPTMENT FOR. SUGGESTED THEM TO CALL ANOTHER CO. THAT CAN PERFORM THIS TYPE OF TEST.

                        THEY CALLED A LOCAL YELLOW PAGES PLUMBER.

                        OWNERS REP CALLED A FEW DAYS LATER TO TELL ME THE OTHER CO. FOUND THE PROBLEM AND FIXED IT.

                        I CAME BACK TO FOLLOW UP ON THE SO CALLED DIAGNOSIS AND REPAIR.

                        AFTER I WAS FILLED IN ABOUT THE WORK, I CRAWLED UNDER THE ROOM WHERE THE PROBLEM WAS LOCATED. WHAT I DISCOVERED AND PIECED TOGETHER WAS INTERESTING.

                        THE OTHER CO. USED A SMOKE GRENADE THAT THEY DROOPED INTO A 3'' CLEANOUT, FROM OUTSIDE OF THE BUILDING. WHAT THEY DIDN'T REALIZE WAS THE PIPE WAS ABS. THE SMOKE GRENADE BURNT A HOLE IN THE PLASTIC AND FILLED THE ROOM ABOVE WITH THE SMOKE. TO COVER THEIR STUPIDITY, THEY CUT A SLICE IN THE PLASTIC PIPE AND SHOWED THE OWNER A SECTION OF PIPE THAT THEY CUT. ACTUALLY FIXING THE BURNT PIPE UNDER THE HOUSE AND THE SECTION THEY SLICED TO COVER THEIR TRACS.

                        THE PROBLEM WAS WHEN I EXAMINED THE SLICE, IT WAS NOT 100% CUT THROUGH THE WALL OF THE PLASTIC. THE REAL SECTION WAS THE BURNED AND MELTED PIECE. I BROUGHT THIS UP TO THE OWNERS REP AND PIECED THIS WHOLE SCAM TOGETHER. THE PLUMBER GAVE A FULL REFUND TO THE PRINCE.

                        I THEN FOUND THE REAL CULPRIT. THE A.C CONDENSATE DRAIN WAS TIED INTO A DRAIN LINE WITH NO TRAP. THE FAN COIL WOULD SUCK THE SEWER GAS AND VENT IT INTO THE AFFECTED ROOMS.

                        RICK.

                        YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PLUMBERS, SOME OF THE TIME, BUT YOU CAN'T FOOL PLUMBER RICK ANYTIME.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Good one Rick.

                          I have had some luck finding sewer gas using my Tif detector. I've also used my Tif detector and a can of room deororizer to find voids under bathroom party walls.

                          My neighbor is a bodyguard for a Saudi Prince. Everytime the kid wants to travel my neighbor has to fly to Saudi to travel with him. Now the kid just started attending Stanford so my neighbor has to live up north during the school year.

                          Mark
                          "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                          I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Guys,

                            I'm really sorry I started the thread. Cher's house, Saudi Princes? Are you guys competing?
                            Give it a rest and talk about plumbing.

                            the dog
                            the dog

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              DOG, WE HAPPEN TO BE TALKING ABOUT PLUMBING. IT JUST SO HAPPENS THAT SOME OF THE MEMORABLE JOBS HAPPEN TO BE FOR HIGH PROFILE PEOPLE. WE DO LIVE IN SOUTHERN CALIF. SOME OF US EVEN WORK FOR CELEBRITIES. THE FIRST 2 I POSTED, ABOUT THE NAIL HOLE AND THE PILOT LITE WERE FOR NON CELEBS.
                              THEY HAPPEN TO HAVE INDOOR PLUMBING JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. MAYBE EVEN A FIRE HYDRANT FOR THE DOG TOO. I WOULD THINK THAT CERTAIN JOBS WOULD REMAIN IN ONES MIND LONGER THAN OTHERS. WE ALL COULD NAME DROP, BUT THAT WASN'T THE POINT. THE POST WAS THE X FILES. THIS JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE THE 1 I REMEMBERED.

                              HOW ABOUT THE WATER HEATER THAT WAS ALL BEAT UP AND LEGS BROKEN OFF SITTING ON BRICKS. TO TOP IT OFF, I DIDN'T KNOW A 1/2''IPS G- COUPLING THREAD WILL SCREW INTO A 1'' FIP THREAD. I THOUGHT I SAW IT ALL. THE ORIGINAL PLUMBER CAME BACK AN SAID THEY SAW NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS INSTALLATION.
                              THE PLUMBING INSPECTOR SAW IT MY WAY.
                              ONCE AGAIN AND UNDERQUALIFIED CONTRACTOR.
                              BY THE WAY THE HOUSE BELONGED TO SOMEONE JUST LIKE YOU AND ME.

                              RICK.

                              [ 08-11-2005, 01:28 AM: Message edited by: PLUMBER RICK ]

                              Comment

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