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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi: I searched the forums for an answer, but came up empty.

I gutted our shower, and installed a diverter above the on/off control.

When I use a male brass plug on the two brass female fittings, it doesn't leak.

But when I install a 2 1/2" brass nipple (to help determine final wall thickness) and use a female brass end cap, the damn thing leaks like crazy.

The brass nipple is tapered. The female brass end cap I don't think is tapered, but it shouldn't leak. I use teflon tape.

Any ideas? Why do brass female end caps leak? Am I not tightening enough or over tightening???

this is just a temporary measure before the cement board goes up.
any help appreciated.
brian
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Think Google just answered my question for me.

Tolerances between fittings leave small gaps that must be filled by using either:

1) orange teflon tape (high density)
2) pipe goop
 

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Tighten them more. Pipe fitting are tapered and the more you tighten them the better they seal. More wraps of the normal white tape will help also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Tighten them more. Pipe fitting are tapered and the more you tighten them the better they seal. More wraps of the normal white tape will help also.
I was always afraid of over tightening and stripping the threads. Kind of like when I took my Jetta to the stealership and they overtightened the wheel bolts so much that they were partially stripped. They don't use a torque wench, like I do at home.

thanks
 

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You do not use nipples. They are meant for gas lines. Use the proper fittings, or call a plumber to do the job properly. And yes, you have to either use White Teflon or pipe dope on the threads. Orange & Yellow teflon is not meant for water use, it is meant for use on gas lines.
 

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If you're using the correct fittings and are tighening them correctly, 3 or 4 wraps of teflon tape should do it. The yellow tape is more used for gas piping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You do not use nipples. They are meant for gas lines. Use the proper fittings, or call a plumber to do the job properly. And yes, you have to either use White Teflon or pipe dope on the threads. Orange & Yellow teflon is not meant for water use, it is meant for use on gas lines.
Original color of teflon removed from shower head was orange, and this was the builder's plumber - that's what got me confused in the first place. You're right, orange is for gas lines. My bad.

As for hiring a plumber, no way he would have done as good a job as I did. Time is money for a plumber. For me, it's 2 weekends of careful planning. I reinforced the wall with extra 2X4's (they used rotted boards), plumbed a couple boards which were way off. Put in some block bracing too, and put in a shower nook. Everything you do is related to something else. Everything aligned up perfectly, easily removed (just in case), and my custom install would have cost big bucks. Besides, it was a "professional" plumber that caused 1/2 the problems I had with the bathroom in the first place. Everyone involved was responsible for the piss poor workmanship, not just the plumber, and I could give you a 10 point list, but here's just one example:
Guy#1 who drilled the holes for the PEX drilled too close to the baseboards, and didn't put a metal plate in front. Guy#2 routed the PEX and didn't care or notice. Guy#3 put finishing nails in the baseboards and punctured the PEX, which caused a leak that my builder attributed to "condesation on the lines". In fact, because the nail was embedded in the PEX, the leak was VERY slow, and the wood wicked up the moisture. I could give more examples, like nailing the shower membrane on the outside (OK) AND the inside (not OK), but who cares at this point. If you want it done right, do it yourself, and no one to blame later on except yourself.

thanks for the info. I didn't apply enough teflon and/or didn't tighten enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You do not use nipples. They are meant for gas lines. Use the proper fittings, or call a plumber to do the job properly. And yes, you have to either use White Teflon or pipe dope on the threads. Orange & Yellow teflon is not meant for water use, it is meant for use on gas lines.
Confused on the nipples.... brass nipples for gas lines? I see iron pipe in my house.... I've seen galvanized iron fittings in the store....

So if I don't use nipples to get to the finished wall thickness I need, then what do I do? Bend the copper pipe with a pipe bender? How else can I go from female thread (rough-in) to female thread (on the diverter elbow). Instructions that come with my diverter elbow use the term "nipple".

And what about the shower head? That's one big ass curved chromed nipple sticking out from the wall.
 

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Confused on the nipples.... brass nipples for gas lines? I see iron pipe in my house.... I've seen galvanized iron fittings in the store....

So if I don't use nipples to get to the finished wall thickness I need, then what do I do? Bend the copper pipe with a pipe bender? How else can I go from female thread (rough-in) to female thread (on the diverter elbow). Instructions that come with my diverter elbow use the term "nipple".

And what about the shower head? That's one big ass curved chromed nipple sticking out from the wall.
The item you're calling, "one big assed curved chrome nipple", is not called a nipple. It's called a shower arm. I think you're confused with the terminology and it does nothing to help you get answers. Post photos of what you're speaking about otherwise this post is a dog chasing his tail.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The item you're calling, "one big assed curved chrome nipple", is not called a nipple. It's called a shower arm. I think you're confused with the terminology and it does nothing to help you get answers. Post photos of what you're speaking about otherwise this post is a dog chasing his tail.

Sorry for the confusion. Terminology is a problem when you're not in the business of plumbing, I agree.

Thinking outside the box, that shower arm looks to me like an elongated and bent nipple, IMHO. Kind of like sagging t***. Both ends male, same thread. Yeah, stupid way to think, but that's how I think as a non-plumber. I don't care what's in between the connection, I just look at the two ends, which are 1/2" male NPT, 14TPI, or whatever it is. The in between could be a bowtie for all I care. In my case, I'm using a 1/2" brass nipple, 2 1/2" long to get me the finished clearance I need for the wall tile.

No, I'm not trying to use a gas flared nipple. It's definately a plumbing nipple for potable water.

Anyway, thanks for your help, everyone, I appreciate it.
 

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The advice in post 6 still stands.
 

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You do not use nipples. They are meant for gas lines. Use the proper fittings, or call a plumber to do the job properly. And yes, you have to either use White Teflon or pipe dope on the threads. Orange & Yellow teflon is not meant for water use, it is meant for use on gas lines.
Nipples are a generic term for a short length of pipe that is threaded on both ends. Be it gas water or what ever. And yes there are brass nipples in NPT. Pipe dope went the way of oakum and lead. This is a DIY forum so telling him to call a plumber is just plain rude.
 

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Sorry for the confusion. Terminology is a problem when you're not in the business of plumbing, I agree.

Thinking outside the box, that shower arm looks to me like an elongated and bent nipple, IMHO. Kind of like sagging t***. Both ends male, same thread. Yeah, stupid way to think, but that's how I think as a non-plumber. I don't care what's in between the connection, I just look at the two ends, which are 1/2" male NPT, 14TPI, or whatever it is. The in between could be a bowtie for all I care. In my case, I'm using a 1/2" brass nipple, 2 1/2" long to get me the finished clearance I need for the wall tile.

No, I'm not trying to use a gas flared nipple. It's definately a plumbing nipple for potable water.

Anyway, thanks for your help, everyone, I appreciate it.
The pipe for the shower head is threaded with a finer thread at the outside end. For your temporary hookup use a regualar nipple that is NPT on both ends.
 

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Brass and fittings in general are getting worse both in composition and machining. Sometimes even just tightening more can make things worse. A sheared off nipple in you're shower ell can ruin your day. Personally, I wrap 3-4 wraps of teflon, then use some paste sealant be it either TFE or rectoseal on top of the tape.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Brass and fittings in general are getting worse both in composition and machining. Sometimes even just tightening more can make things worse. A sheared off nipple in you're shower ell can ruin your day. Personally, I wrap 3-4 wraps of teflon, then use some paste sealant be it either TFE or rectoseal on top of the tape.
Yes, my thoughts exactly. I pulled off an end cap, replaced it with an identical one from the store and it was a slightly better fit. The original end cap was ever so slightly out of round (oval) and I could feel it when I hand tightened.

Using the paste sealant over top the teflon is a great suggestion.
Thanks.

One thing I hate is the cheap curved shower arms. How am I supposed to get the cement board over it when I'm using a single 8 foot long sheet. I think I'm going to have to replace the nickle plated shower arm with a straight brass nipple. There must be a solution. I'm not about to cut the cement board in half.

thanks
Brian
 

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One thing I hate is the cheap curved shower arms. How am I supposed to get the cement board over it when I'm using a single 8 foot long sheet. I think I'm going to have to replace the nickle plated shower arm with a straight brass nipple. There must be a solution. I'm not about to cut the cement board in half.

thanks
Brian
You don't install the curved shower arm until later. You use a simple 1/2" black pipe about 6" long.
I don't install the finished piece until the tile is grouted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You don't install the curved shower arm until later. You use a simple 1/2" black pipe about 6" long.
I don't install the finished piece until the tile is grouted.

Now that I'm getting into the nitty gritty of plumbing, I see there are a lot of variables which can lead to problems 5 years down the road. No wonder the plumbers around here are always busy. Toothpick houses are built worry free for 5 years, after that, it's time to sell or repair.

Black pipe is for gas. The problem with installing the shower arm last is that you are screwing it in blind. How are you supposed to see a microscopic drip behind the tile, the mortar, and the kerdi. Maybe I'm just a stupid DIY guy with no experience, but it doesn't make sense. I know this is how it's done, but I just can't get myself to do it this way. Too much guesswork riding on the teflon, the dope, and how much I tighten or overtighten the shower arm.

After all this hard work, to screw in a shower arm with teflon tape, lick my finger and hope it's a perfect connection behind the wall doesn't sit well with me.

I'm going to look for a straight shower arm, chrome plated brass, I guess. Then use a ball swivel for the shower head.

Or alternatively use a brass nipple set 1/2" from the finished tile, and find a shower head that is compatible with a male thread. Kohler makes one.

I might even solder the brass nipple to the female rough-in. I'm starting to hate teflon and pipe dope. Teflon and pipe dope behind a finished and completed wall just doesn't make sense to me.
 

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You are just getting frustrated it sounds like. Teflon tape with the teflon paste also applied will never leak. And if it did have a micro leak as you put it, then you may get 2 or 3 drops every time the shower is used and the flow is restricted or shut down at the shower head. Normally there is not enough pressure to force a leak that close to an open shower head.
 
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