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Old 07-04-2017, 05:45 PM   #1
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Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


DIY homeowner here.

My house was built in 1970 and little was undated before we bought it 4 years ago. I have done most of the plumbing repairs myself. Discovering a multitude of unpredictable pipe sizes and conditions throughout.

Yesterday the shower arm in the master started spewing water into the shower and the wall during a shower. I pulled the arm and got a 1/2 inch worm of thread with it from the drop ear elbow in the wall. Bought a new shower arm and plied it with thread tape and tru blu hoping that it might find something to thread into in the drop ear. No dice.

I can't really make out the condition of the drop ear because it's in a tiny hole behind drywall, tile, and about a half inch of grout between them.

Don't think there is a thread tap that works for this application and I am hoping against hope for any option short of bashing through the tile or trying to detach the full wall mirror on the other side of the wall.

Any tips or tricks or is my master bathroom remodel going to have to happen now?

Thanks,
Valley


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Old 07-04-2017, 05:58 PM   #2
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


I suspect that your shower arm broke off at the threads and you are bucking the end of your shower arm..... that's what I've normally found....

You need a internal pipe extractor (1/2) that you can pick up at any HWare store.

That drop ear is brass, and will be in good shape once you get that pipr stub end out.

They all work about the same... some have better teeth than the others.

Good luck
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:00 PM   #3
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Minor drywall repair on wall behind it would be the way to go.
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:40 PM   #4
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


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Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
I suspect that your shower arm broke off at the threads and you are bucking the end of your shower arm..... that's what I've normally found....

You need a internal pipe extractor (1/2) that you can pick up at any HWare store.

That drop ear is brass, and will be in good shape once you get that pipr stub end out.

They all work about the same... some have better teeth than the others.

Good luck


Thanks. I am at least sure that I have the entire arm out ( its threading was frayed too). There was brass in the arm threads unfortunately. I'll try to see if there is anything else in the elbow, but I'm sure there's not enough for a pipe extractor to grab.


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Old 07-04-2017, 06:41 PM   #5
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


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Minor drywall repair on wall behind it would be the way to go.


I can't decide which is worse because the drywall on the other side has a huge full wall mirror on it that I think is attached by adhesive throughout.


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Old 07-04-2017, 06:48 PM   #6
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Try the lesser of the two evils first.
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Old 07-04-2017, 07:20 PM   #7
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Going from the opposite wall may not be beneficial, since the ear is screwed into wood from the front side. You may not be able to reach the screws. I'd stick with the attempt to remove the broken threads of the arm.
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Old 07-04-2017, 08:18 PM   #8
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


If the arm cracked and broke the end may indicate that by not being smooth and square. I'd try a 1/2" pipe tap to chase the drop ear threads then apply a few wraps of Tef tape and try that.
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Old 07-05-2017, 01:11 AM   #9
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Thanks everyone. It'll be a few days before I can get back to it. I'll look to pick up a tap set in the meantime. Great excuse to buy a new tool.


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Old 07-05-2017, 06:22 AM   #10
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Unless the socket is securely attached to strong wood blocking, the tap will most likely not work. If you don't want to deal with a patch in the wall, you can carefully remove a few tiles and repair it there. The key to removing tile is to cut the grout first.
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Old 07-05-2017, 08:05 AM   #11
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


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Originally Posted by clarenceboddick View Post
Unless the socket is securely attached to strong wood blocking, the tap will most likely not work.
That's certainly a consideration when forming new threads, but with this delima the threads are only being chased to correct or clean them in brass.

Hopefully a rental will have a 1/2" pipe tap rather than purchasing a set of taps. Good sets can be rather expensive for a one time repair. If he was a neighbor he would sure be welcome to borrow mine.
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Old 07-05-2017, 08:48 AM   #12
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


I agree with Senior. Us old people are always right. My tap and die set has a 1/2" pipe tap he could borrow. But something is wrong here. You don't just strip out a 1/2 brass fitting. Somebody did something wrong in the past.
How some ever, a 1/2" black iron pipe nipple should clean up the threads in the drop ell if the only problem is damaged threads.
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Old 07-06-2017, 01:57 AM   #13
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Broken off shower arm is common. Broken drop-ear elbow, never have seen one. Use an extractor as recommended above. And going in to the wall from behind will only make another hole in your wall. No access to drop-ear elbow from behind.
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:14 AM   #14
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


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Originally Posted by SHR Plumber View Post
Broken off shower arm is common. Broken drop-ear elbow, never have seen one. Use an extractor as recommended above. And going in to the wall from behind will only make another hole in your wall. No access to drop-ear elbow from behind.
He has a mirror on the back wall so getting in there is a no. but as most drop elbows are screwed to a block between two studs removing the block is not all that tricky.
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Old 07-08-2017, 08:35 AM   #15
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Re: Dreaded drop ear elbow failure


Recent convert to ocillating saw. Cut through the tile joints and the drywall - all in one piece and later glue in backers and glue back the cut out. I'd need about 12x12" space to sweat out the elbow and solder in a new. Have a spray bottle handy and a flame resistant protector. Because it is up there, less need to protect the area from moisture damage.
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