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Old 08-23-2008, 09:56 PM   #1
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Water pipe burst in basement


The hot water supply to my washing machine snapped off earlier right where the new (less than 2 years) valve (faucet?) attaches to the original pipe. It seems like the threading is still inside the pipe. The pipes are really heavy material, not copper, maybe cast iron? The connection was right at an elbow joint so I'm wondering if I can just replace that and the fitting on the end, but I'm worried that if professionals had this much trouble, then maybe I should try another route. Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm going to tackle this in the morning if I cannot get a real plumber out here then, as we have no water till then. Can I cut the pipe and attach something newer? I plumed out bathroom in pvc no problem, but I'm not experiance with stuff this old. The house was built in 1928. Thanks for the info.

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Old 08-23-2008, 10:36 PM   #2
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Water pipe burst in basement


The pipe is either galvanized steel or lead. Scrape it with a knife and you should be able to tell. Lead is very malleable. If it is lead, call a plumber.

If it is galvanized, you can probably do it. Cutting the pipe is not an option, as threaded connections are utilized. You'll need to remove the fitting with the broken threads and replace it. If you can't get it off, try another one upstream and replace to the washing machine. Use two pipe wrenches (not pliers...pipe wrenches). One pipe wrench is used to grab the pipe next to the fitting with clockwise pressure so you don't unscrew it when you remove the fitting counterclockwise with the other wrench.

Once you've exposed the male threads of a pipe, clean them off with a wire brush if they're cruddy and then make about 6 wraps around them with teflon tape. Reverse the pipe wrenches and tighten the new fitting down.

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Old 08-23-2008, 10:37 PM   #3
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Water pipe burst in basement


Once you install a threaded fitting, you certainly could transition to CPVC or copper.
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Old 08-23-2008, 10:59 PM   #4
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Water pipe burst in basement


I'll have to get a second pipe wrench but that doesn't sound too complicated a job. I believe it is galvanized, not lead, as it wasn't soft at all. If it were lead then all the pipes in the house would be as well, and wouldn't a plumber have mentioned that to me already? I would hope so. Well at least now I know what I need to do hopefully I can the parts I need at the supply store in the morning. I'm likely to get another wrench first and take the fitting in with me as I have know way of knowing the size, considering I'm not use to working with this at all. Thank for the info, I'll let you know how it goes. Out of curiousity, considering I have a full basement with easy access to all the pipe, do you think replumbing the house in pvc is a bad idea? I could lay most of it out and then make the final switches later, so that I didn't have to have the water off for long. Would it be worth while to get rid of the old plumbing? Thanks again.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:20 AM   #5
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Water pipe burst in basement


Yes, re-plumbing would be a good idea if you've got old steel pipes. Nothing wrong with that material, but if it is 90 years old its useful life is probably long gone. I bet they're pretty plugged up as well.

Don't use PVC. Use CPVC. PVC isn't a great option in my opinion. If you use CPVC, use a name brand...Not the foreign crud that a lot of stores sell. There is a difference! FlowGuard Gold is a very popular quality product. Definately a DIY system.

For ease of installation, you might want to consider PEX as well. It is a flexible tubing, and is incredibly durable. It doesn't suffer from being brittle like CPVC and especially CPVC, and will also expand if your pipes happen to freeze if the furnace quits. The plastic tubing is joined with various brass hose barb fittings, and you use a special crimping tool to crimp a copper ring over the tubing onto the barb. No teflon tape, no pipe dope. It is incredibly easy and is reasonably economical. It is a very very good product. You can buy the tool with different heads to do 4 different pipe sizes for about $150 at Lowes or Home Depot. The tubing is really inexpensive and the fittings average about $3 each. You can get away with less fittings because the tubing bends easily. You can easily transition from your existing plumbing using threaded pipe-to-pex adapters.
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:29 AM   #6
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Water pipe burst in basement


Yea! Thanks for the help. I wasn't able to remove the fitting that the valve had broken off in but I was able to remove the pipe that it was connected to. Just a 30" drop from the basement ceiling to another corner fitting. The hardware store didn't have a corner fitting, except for 45 degree, so I had to use a T and a cap, but I got it all back together and the water back on. I'm definitely going to look into the PEX. I've already tackled our bathroom, but I should be able to tie into it pretty easy. How can I tell if the material I used in the bathroom (3 years ago now) is PVC or CPVC? Either way, it sounds like the PEX will make running new lines throughout the basement a lot easier. There isn't an enormous amount to be done, water main in that splits to kitchen, bathroom, washer, outside, and water heater. And that splits to all but outside. Thanks again KC, it's funny that when I asked for help on a forum it turned out to be someone just a short drive north.

KC, I just did some research on PEX and noticed it came in a lot of different diameters, what would you recommend for home use? I like that I can get the tubing in red/blue for hot/cold. I may go measure right now to see how much I'd need. Thanks!

Last edited by bolivartech; 08-24-2008 at 11:36 AM. Reason: New Info
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Old 08-24-2008, 01:11 PM   #7
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Water pipe burst in basement


Since your house seems about average size, use 3/4" for the main lines and 1/2" for the branches to each individual fixture. One thing that is very important when installing PEX is to make sure the crimping tool is adjusted properly. Make sure you get a "Go-No Go" gauge, which just slips over a crimp ring after it is crimped to gauge the size. If the "Go" side won't fit over the gauge the crimpers need adjusted. This is easier than it might sound so don't worry, just make sure you get the gauge.

As for the pipe you installed 3 years ago, it should be marked as to what it is. If not, PVC is usually white and CPVC is sort of cream colored.

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