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Old 10-03-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
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plumbing leak or pipe sweat?


i have a very strange thing going on:

directly underneath the return pipe coming out of the hallway radiator, in the basement ceiling, the floor sheathing is all water stained, and actually has been wet to the touch for weeks. the area of staining and wetness is definitely spreading.

upon close examination of the only fitting there (a standard 90 elbow, then pipe going through a hole in the floor) i can't find any trace of wetness or signs of leakage. the oak floor above is totally dry (but is definitely heaving/rolling up due to water coming from somewhere. the fitting is green and funky looking, which looks like just regular flux "ooze," or something.

i was just about to cut out the 90 and sweat another one on, but it's a lot of work and a very tight spot so thought i'd ask you guys first.
when i bought the house the stains were there, but it's gotten much worse.

i guess it couldn't hurt to sweat another 90 on? maybe there is some sort of pinhole leak on the pipe itself inside the flooring? there's no reason i can see that the pipe would be sweating there. it's always dry when i touch it, both above and below the floor.

what gives?

thanks.

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Old 10-03-2009, 03:09 PM   #2
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plumbing leak or pipe sweat?


It could be a failed or poor solder joint that is just misting towards the hole in the floor or towards the wall or it may be a problem in the pipes in the basement ceiling. I would advise leaving the water pressure on, but turn off the power to the boiler, remove the ceiling tiles in the stained area and FIND THAT LEAK. Be carefull to sand all the joints you take apart even if they are already tinned and sand all the fittings you are going to put back in. Most importantly, you only have to flux the the fittings and pipe ends that you do not want to leak.

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Old 10-03-2009, 03:48 PM   #3
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plumbing leak or pipe sweat?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Grampa Bud View Post
It could be a failed or poor solder joint that is just misting towards the hole in the floor or towards the wall or it may be a problem in the pipes in the basement ceiling. I would advise leaving the water pressure on, but turn off the power to the boiler, remove the ceiling tiles in the stained area and FIND THAT LEAK. Be carefull to sand all the joints you take apart even if they are already tinned and sand all the fittings you are going to put back in. Most importantly, you only have to flux the the fittings and pipe ends that you do not want to leak.

thanks. it's an unfinished basement so can look right up and see the pipe and the floor sheathing and everything. so far i haven't found any leaks at all.

i think i'll jujst chop it out and replace it and hope for the best.
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Old 10-03-2009, 04:35 PM   #4
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plumbing leak or pipe sweat?


I reread what you and I said and if nothing is wet when the system is not running try turning off the water supply to the boiler and watch the pressure guage for the boiler for an afternoon. If the pressure doesn't drop even a pound from your reference there is no leak. Next check to see if there is an air bleeder near the top of the radiator section on that end. Bleeders will sometimes leak under heat and pressure and not when the system is cool. A hot water heat system will normally have 12 to 20 PSI whether it is hot or cold, operating or not. If the pressure bleeds off to 0 PSI over any period you have a leak. If your floor is never wet or damp when the radiator is hot or cold there is no leak there and you are probably looking at the signs of some former problem. Also that "green" ooze
is copper sulfate from the solder flux etching the surface coating of the copper when the joint was soldered and no one wiped the joint afterwards.

Last edited by Grampa Bud; 10-03-2009 at 04:41 PM. Reason: one more thing
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Old 10-03-2009, 05:01 PM   #5
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plumbing leak or pipe sweat?


The green ooze could also be copper oxide. Copper forms several different oxides, one of which is green. At my house, where I have acidic water, I used to get green copper oxide forming anywhere there was moisture on the copper, either from a pinhole leak, or condensation. I second the previous opinions, it sure sounds like there is a leak somewhere near the radiator, perhaps only under pressure or heat, but it has to be there.
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