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Old 09-06-2016, 11:50 AM   #1
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Tub spout install- nipple question


Hey guys. I think I've hit our cursed apartment or something because we have been stuck for a couple weeks on getting this tub spout installed correctly without leaks. It's basically new construction, we re-plumbed the bathrooms, re-tiled etc, and have a 1/2 ips stub out with a Moen front-end threaded diverter spout.

The basic question is how far after the nipple is tight in the wall can you back out before it poses a leak hazard?

The main issue is we tried all number of combinations of brass nipples and nipples with couplings to get to the right length, before finally biting the bullet and having a galvanized nipple cut to the "supposed" correct length. We had it cut and threaded to 5-3/4". Unfortunately when all is said and done, the spout winds up a quarter turn too far from where it should be. If I unscrew the spout the quarter turn, it's too loose and I'm unsure if I can unscrew the nipple the needed quarter turn or if that could compromise inside the wall and leak through the plumbers dope we're using in it.

The nipple was wrenched on quite well, however we only have been going about hand-tight with the spout. Since they're all made of plastic or pot metal really now days, didn't want to over crank and chance it. Tried a couple of self adjusting spouts I got on a deal at the Habitat store but they had no instructions and for some reason the plastic bushings kept leaking on the install, so I broke down and decided to just get the Moen to work.

Any advice? Not sure if we need to take the nipple back and have Ace re-thread it (or a new one). Never had this issue when replacing any of our other unit's spouts.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:19 PM   #2
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


You can use a piece of 1/2 copper pipe with male adapters soldered on both ends. This approach lets you customize the length.
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Old 09-06-2016, 07:47 PM   #3
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


Not sure I follow your dilemma.
Most often the piping out of the valve for the spout is a piece of copper soldered to the valve. Then a slip fit spout is used or a threaded male fitting is put on the end for a screw on type spout.

Sounds like you are using a piece of threaded iron pipe. Also sounds like you can't get the spout screwed on tight up against the wall and have the spout pointed down at the same time.

If that is correct you can,

1. Put the handle of your pliers up in the end of the spout and see if you can get that last quarter turn.
2. Take the pipe out, take it back to the store and have a couple more threads cut on the spout end. No need to shorten, just have 2 or 3 more threads cut.
3. Get a short piece of copper pipe and a threaded male adapter.
Get a set of tub and shower sockets. Solder the adapter on one end of the pipe. Coat the threads with pipe dope or Teflon tape. Screw the copper into the valve by hand. You cannot use a pipe wrench to tighten the copper pipe. The copper is too soft. The smallest of the tub and shower sockets should fit the shoulders of the adapter. Check before you purchase. Slip the socket onto the pipe to the fitting. The socket should stick out beyond the wall. Tighten with a pipe wrench.
Cut off the copper to the appropriate length and install a slip on type spout.

Of all your options #3 is the best. If you choose another option you will regret it the next time you have to mess with the spout.
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Last edited by hkstroud; 09-06-2016 at 07:59 PM.
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Old 09-06-2016, 08:41 PM   #4
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


I feel your frustration. I am no plumber, and have had similar problem.

Note that tub spouts are two types, either a tapered pipe thread like you have, or an o-ring, and a set screw on the underside, that you slide it onto a piece of copper pipe, and then snug up the set screw so it does not move. Second type may be more forgiving.

But if you only need to move the nipple half a turn, I would remove it, wrap a few more turns of Teflon tape around it, and put it back in.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:50 PM   #5
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


Thanks for the suggestions.

I really was hoping to avoid going the route of soldering two male ends onto some copper creating the custom length.

For clarification:
-The cut pipe is galvanized steel.
-The spout has the thread at the end near the spout, no set screw, screws on with a diverter- it is not the slip fit for fitting around copper without a fitting.
-We do have tub and shower sockets however until now, I had only ever used them for repairing and replacing valve stems- never thought about using them to tighten a copper fitting into the wing elbow in the wall. Unfortunately it means trying to drill out the existing hole through the hardibacker and tile large enough for the wrench to fit in as we cut a very tight hole for the nipple.

To get the spout tight against the wall and so that it pours the water down into the tub, I would currently need to tighten the spout from about the 10 or 11 o'clock position to the 6 o'clock position, something that is not currently possible as it is tight to the wall at 10-11 o'clock.

I was actually wondering about loosening the pipe until it would set tight at the 6 o'clock spot, however I wasn't really thinking and to only loosen it a quarter turn would set the spout closer to the 3 o'clock position, rendering me again in a bind as it still won't be right. I almost feel like the nipple needed to be almost 1/8" longer so that it would tighten at the right spot.

Unfortunately I believe we won't be able to have Ace cut a longer nipple for free, and as such my best bet would be the route of custom making the right length out of all copper fittings, that way, even if it's wrong, I can solder the fitting off and shorten or turn the fitting til it's correct.

Thanks again for the input.
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:22 PM   #6
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


Reason for switching over to copper is that you can use the slip on tub spout. Enlarge hole in tile. It can be sealed with caulking if you desire but not really necessary. It will be covered by spout which will also be sealed.
I suspect that the spout will not screw on any further because it has hit end of threads, not because of pressure against wall.

Last edited by hkstroud; 09-06-2016 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 09-07-2016, 05:18 AM   #7
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


Quote:
Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
Reason for switching over to copper is that you can use the slip on tub spout. Enlarge hole in tile. It can be sealed with caulking if you desire but not really necessary. It will be covered by spout which will also be sealed.
I suspect that the spout will not screw on any further because it has hit end of threads, not because of pressure against wall.
X2 on the slip on spout.
Toss the screw on one. I didn't know about the slip on ones when I had this battle of the correct length. Never again. The threads in the spout usually allow only a couple of full turns, so precision sizing is vital. It has to contact the wall at exactly the correct point. I must have made up 6 or 7 different lengths before I nailed it.

You could try using different amounts of T tape on the threads and it may stop shorter and still be sealed.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:57 AM   #8
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


Believe me- in the future, yes. I will most definitely be doing slip on. I never knew about them until this mess started either. They seem very common so I'm wondering how I missed out on their induction but it seems I don't replace spouts ALL the time. I think I only had to replace one that corroded away 3 years ago.

For now I'm going with copper and will fiddle with it til it gets to the right spot. If the money grabs were up to me- I would most definitely toss it and buy a slip, even with all this wasted time on it, it would have been more beneficial to my parents to buy it, but sort of really hate to toss 3 threaded spouts out, or at least the Moen one which costs like $18. The cheapies that were $4 a piece I could care less about but they shouldn't have been leaking, adjustable etc. They could just be leaking because I was using teflon tape around the plastic threading.. sounds odd but I gave up on em awhile ago.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:11 PM   #9
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


OK,
Get your piece of copper, solder on the adapter to one end.
Screw this into the tub spout. Tighten it about 1/2 to 1 turn beyond hand tight.
Lay a straight edge across the tub spout and mark the pipe.
Remove the pipe from the tub spout and measure the distance between the shoulders of the nipple and the mark.
Screw pipe and adapter into the valve. Use Teflon tape or pipe dope. I prefer pipe dope. Teflon tape and pipe dope are not sealers, they are lubricants. The simply enable you to tighten the joint tighter. Pipe threads are taper, the further you screw a pipe in to a fitting the tighter threads seal.

Screw you copper pipe into the valve and tighten.
Cut off the copper pipe the distance from the wall that you measured earlier.
Solder on the other adapter on the end. The distance between the shoulder of the adapter and the wall should be the distance you measured earlier.
Screw on the tub spout. That joint doesn't have to be very tight, there is no water pressure on it. So what if it leaks a little. Caulk between the spout and the wall. Caulk the top and sides. Do not caulk the bottom. If a little water leaks at the joint between the pipe and the spout, so what, It will run out the bottom of the spout at the wall. Chances are that the shower wall are already wet.

Last edited by hkstroud; 09-08-2016 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 09-10-2016, 02:08 PM   #10
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Re: Tub spout install- nipple question


I appreciate the long solutions offered by others here, but your solution is very simple. Hand tight is NEVER tight enough on plumbing fittings including tub spouts. Turn your tub spout the extra 3/4 turn til straight. With proper PTFE tape and/or pipe dope that may eliminate the leak. If it doesn't, turn the spout another full turn.
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