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Old 07-08-2015, 05:50 PM   #1
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Water line running through garage drywall


I'd like to ask for some opinions in the best way to tackle a weird issue in the house I bought late last year. The house is a 1969 bi-level, split entry house. The garage takes up about half of the downstairs.

Our water supply line enters through the floor of the garage and is in the corner of the house next to the garage doors. It then runs up the wall and across the ceiling of the entire garage (above the garage doors) to the living areas of the house.

I think that originally the pipe ran directly below the ceiling drywall. However, at some point, the previous owners decided to add garage door openers and the opener track had to be installed with less than an inch of clearance under the ceiling. This of course interfered with the water line, so instead of changing that, they simply cut out the drywall immediately above the water line and pushed it up into that. You can see a section on the attached photo - the black pipe is the water line.

My main issue with this setup is that the garage has open holes into the living space. There are also fire issues here, but the whole garage is 1/2" ceiling drywall anyway, so it's not great anyway. I see two ways of dealing with this.

1. I could move the whole line towards the center of the garage, although there's no ideal route and this would require a good amount of work. Plus I'm not sure I trust myself re-soldering the main water line (no experience with soldering new lines).

2. Either lower the garage door opener track (would require installing low profile tracks) or remove it (using a different type of opener). Both options are not cheap (a few hundred to $700 in parts) and I don't know if the water line will unbend easily.

3. The simple option would be to simply patch the drywall where there are large gaps and then caulk around the outside of the water line to seal it and remove any gaps. I could add some pipe insulation below it as well.

Having thought about it, I'd prefer option 3. It's a lot less work and a lot cheaper. I could always go with option 1 or 2 later if I wanted to. But I'm not sure if I'm missing anything or if there's anything seriously unsafe about the current situation that needs to be corrected.

So, given the problem, does anyone have any thoughts on which I should go with?

Thanks all.
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Water line running through garage drywall-garage.jpg  

Last edited by physdl; 07-08-2015 at 05:52 PM. Reason: edited to fix photo
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:02 PM   #2
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Are you sure thats not a gas line? At any rate, the fire rating of the ceiling has been compromised. It should be continuous drywall to seal out fire, smoke and fumes.
The 2 choices I see are replacing the rock(returning the pipe to it's original location)
Or raising the pipe into the joists
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:21 PM   #3
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100% sure it's the water line. My only worry with dropping it back down is that I don't know how well it will take to being bent back down. Could be fine. Could break completely. I agree that would be the ideal solution, but not sure I want to bring in a plumber at the moment to do it (and don't think I'd trust myself to replace it).

How much worse is fire resistance if I patch everything and fire caulk the rest (pipe to drywall)? That's the easiest option, and I can get a plumber to replace it later on.
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:21 PM   #4
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Is that black iron pipe?
If so I agree more likely a gas line then a water line.
Wrong type pipe, installed on an outside wall, installed in an unheated garage.
Would make no since in you area to have installed it that way.
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Old 07-08-2015, 06:28 PM   #5
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I agree it almost looks like a cast iron pipe, but I don't think it is. Will check when I get home later. Regardless, it's definitely the water line. The gas line is on the other side of the house and doesn't go into the garage (nor does it have a faucet or expansion tank on it).

I agree that lack of insulation on it is worrisome and is another thing I wanted to fix. I don't think the garage ever quite freezes, but it's something I'd like to address long term.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:19 PM   #6
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I can confirm the pipe is not cast iron - it looks like it in the photo I posted but on closer inspection it's just a non-shiny copper pipe. To be honest, I'm not that concerned about fire safety. Or rather I am, but fixing the garage up to code would basically require replacing all the drywall and plumbing in the garage (there are a few other pipes also half exposed like this, but only for a foot or so). Something for the future - in the meantime I'd like to tackle some of the problem by at least air sealing the garage.
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Old 07-09-2015, 08:50 AM   #7
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Why not re-run the pipe around the back of the garage so you don't have any interference with the garage door? Sweating copper is not tough to do and if you have a buddy or family member who has done it before and is willing to help out, it would not be that tough to tackle. Alternatively, a plumber could have this done for you well before lunch time.

Aside from that, there are two issues you want to focus on: 1, make sure that pipe is insulated so it doesn't freeze and 2, seal up all the openings in that drywall so you aren't getting exhaust fumes into your living space.

Ideally you want that pipe running inside the wall/ceiling on the warm side of the insulation. Around here you would never see a pipe run through the garage like that...is that typical where you are located?

Regarding the drywall, yes it is code for new construction for 5/8 to be installed in the garage. However, in an older home, no one is going to ding you for having 1/2 inch and that was probably standard practice at the time. Unless you have another reason to tear that drywall out, you will be fine if you leave it alone and just make sure the rest of the home is sealed off from the garage.

Last edited by MrBryan; 07-09-2015 at 08:56 AM.
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