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Old 08-08-2012, 05:30 PM   #1
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


Hey guys, need some help with soldering a frost free sillcock and I have a lot of questions. I'm a very basic DIY guy, so please excuse me for my ignorance, I don't know much and am still learning things... but I can do things well with good instructions and I really enjoy learning. And I have been working on repairing a leaky frost free faucet for my parents. There was a rusted bolt on the faucet that wouldn't budge after trying various methods (pb blaster, tapping with hammer, etc) so basically it seems it should be easier to just replace the entire sillcock instead of the washer/etc inside. The sillcock is about 30 years old anyways.

I've attached a bunch of pictures so you can see what I'm working with. It's a pretty tight space, due to the layout of the wooden support beams and the copper tubing, black insulated/rubbery pipe, and electrical wires that get in the way of the actual copper plumbing. But I have a couple of questions:

1) First, I won't do things if there is a serious safety concern. I don't know jack about a lot of Home repair things, and since there is a thin copper tubing (not the copper plumbing), black tube, and electrical wire that is close to the copper plumbing, I was worried about getting a propane torch in there. The thin copper tubing and black tube combo appears to go to one or both of my parents' gas furnace units. As you can see in the photos below, I've included the pics of the furnaces. I didn't want a flame in there to burst a pipe and cause some explosion or something.

2) As you can see from the photos, the frost free sillcock appears to be screwed on to the copper pipe. I tried removing it by holding the sillcock with a vise grip locking wrench while holding the copper piping with channel lock pliers, and it just won't budge. I didn't want to use too much force as I may accidentally put too much pressure on the copper piping. I wanted to spray it with pb blaster to loosen, but then quickly realized that would not be best since I may end up not getting it off anyways, in which case I would have to solder it and propane and pb blaster do not mix! Is it normal to not be able to get off old sillcocks that are screwed on... resulting in having to cut them out?

3) The other question I have is can I use a small butane pen torch to solder in this area? Since the area is so tight, I thought it would be best to use smaller torch, but then again a small butane torch pen may not be able to get hot enough for the solder to run properly.

4) Also, there is a shut off valve, seen in the pictures, that shuts off water to the sillcock. If I have to solder the new sillcock on, can I just leave that shut off valve in the closed position while I solder the sillcock on? Or will that melt a washer or something in the shut off valve? The shuff off to the whole house is old, and water leaks a bit even when I shut off water to the whole house, so I thought I could maybe just leave the shut off valve to the sillcock closed as well to prevent any leaking.

5) And any safety precautions you recommend for soldering in this tight space? So far all I was thinking was maybe gloves and impact resistant glasses. Are heat rags necessary in this case?

I apologize for this lengthy post, if the sillcock and copper piping were in a very accessible area with no obstructions, I would simply just cut it out and solder a new one on, but with the cramped workspace and the three unidentified wires/tubings... I want to be extra safe. Like I said, with instructions, I can do quite a lot, but I just don't have any experience soldering yet and want to be safe given this cramped space. I've remodeled a bathroom before myself (with your guys' help). I had to rip out a tub and install a new tub, install new drain plumbing underground, install water proof protection, and tile the surround. So I can do some things okay, but I just need some instruction.

Thanks for any help, I appreciate it
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included-img_20120807_233006.jpg  

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Old 08-08-2012, 06:18 PM   #2
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


that is soldered on if it was me i would shut of water cut copper after figuring out the correct distance needed for new frost free hose bib of correct length with a shark bite threaded on it with teflon then you will not need to solder

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Old 08-08-2012, 06:20 PM   #3
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


also the shut off that is leaking when shut off try gently tightening the packing nut
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:29 PM   #4
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


is this a dripping outside petcock for a garden hose or is the body cracked from the winter? the copper lines are the freon runs between the condensers(outside)and the furnaces(inside).if this is a outside yard water for a hose that valve should be closed in winter then open the outside valve to vent it....lets hear backNOTE if the connection in the pix was BRAZED your torch won't unswet it...it's not hot enough
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:45 PM   #5
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


that hose bib is a frost free so as long as there was not a hose left on it when it was freezing temp. the odds of it cracking are rare
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Old 08-09-2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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Hey guys, thanks for the replies. To answer your question, the frost free faucet is for an outside garden hose. It is leaking outside from the faucet but the bolts to remove parts from it and access the washer/etc is too rusted on for me to remove it and so I am replacing it.

Jaydevries, I would love to use a shark bite or some push/compression fitting, but aren't these bad to use in walls due to them leaking after a few years. I thought that was against plumbers' rules, but I could be wrong. I would actually prefer using a fitting instead of soldering in this tight space, but I thought that it would leak after a few years.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:22 PM   #7
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


all that is is a rubber screwed on gasket that goes on that seat in the nutted handle that unsrews.shut the inside and remove the handle.if you have more then on outside shut the hose city water feed and do them all...spray the body with WD40 and double wrench the valve slight jerk to break it out

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Old 08-09-2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


You don't need to sweat in a tight space---cut the pipe holding the old valve and remove it.

If you know how to sweat---remove the guts from your new valve--flux and solder a short length of copper to the valve--reinstall the guts---
Slide the assembly into the hole---go downstairs and mark the new pipe for a cut--cut----use a shark bite coupling compression coupling--or a soldered coupling to join the pipes.

As Jay suggested a female shark bite could be used on the hose bib as well---but threading it on up in the floor joists could be a pain.
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:11 PM   #9
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


and shark bites are legal for in wall here
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Old 08-09-2012, 10:05 PM   #10
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


The only problem i see with the sharkbite solution is if the bibb is installed in an area where it can't be secured (rock, stucco, etc...) then it will spin freely on the o-ring.

You have a valve so close-by, i'd solder it. Use a low flame to avoid harming anything else around it, it will take a while to heat up, but you will get there eventually, especially on a 1/2" line.


I did this just yesterday with a 3/4" line in a really tight spot. It took 5-6 minutes, but I was trying to avoid burning the backside of new sheetrock/paint. It worked.


But, i do wonder, what's your reason for replacing it? Have you tried getting new parts for it, if there's a problem with it?
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:38 PM   #11
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Thanks for the messages, I picked up some "gator bites" that seem just like shark bites at HD. I'm assuming those are equivalent to shark bites. I also picked up my soldering equipment. At least now I have two options to choose from.. soldering or gator bites.

And Alan, to answer your question of why I am not just fixing it, well I had to remove this bolt that the sillcock head had in it to access inside to replace a washer. The bolt was rusted on, I tried using pb blaster, tapping with a hammer, etc and it wouldn't budge. The sillcock is not attached to the outside wall by screws or anything since the house is brick, so it would rotate too much when trying to unscrew and I got worried I would rotate the copper piping in the house and break a joint. I guess I could drill some holes into the brick and anchor the sillcock into the brick with plastic anchors and screws and then try it. I'm going to try to unscrew it one more time when I get back to work on it before I do anything else. If it unscrews, I'll just buy replacement parts instead of installing a new sillcock.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:27 AM   #12
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Soldering copper pipe in tight location- Help Needed Pics included


A closeup or two of the outside of the faucet may make it easier to advice on how to disassemble. Especially since you're saying something about a bolt, and it doesn't seem like there should be any bolts in the assembly.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:02 AM   #13
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Sure Alan, no prob, I don't know much about this stuff so I could be doing something wrong. And I believe I used the word "bolt" improperly when there is actually just a screw on the head of the faucet. Here are some pics of it below. The frost proof sillcock is about 30 years old if that helps at all.

It would be nice if I could get that screw off to try so I could just buy replacement parts but I haven't had any luck in getting it loose.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:53 AM   #14
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If the valve is in the open position would you have access to the bonnet nut ?

Normally the handle doesn't affect the repairs......
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:40 AM   #15
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I can definitely try that, I will probably get a chance to check it out today after work to see if that is possible. I'll let you know when I get to it Thanks a bunch

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