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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, so I am not a plumber by trade, but my grandfather was and I have been plumbing DIY since I was helping him at the tender age of 7. He has since passed, but have continued to enjoy plumbing all of the rest of my 41 years.

So here is possibly one of the most frustrating problems I have ever encountered. Remodeling bathroom, fully, studs to joists and back up again. I have my shower supply (copper from Delta multichoice) to drop ear. All is good. So I give the new Delta shower arm (Delta Classic) my normal amount of new-fixture wraps of PTFE screw it in tight, get it properly adjusted and cap it off at the end for pressure test. Turn on the water, weeping pretty significantly from the bottom of the drop ear.

It definitely isn't due to it not being tight enough. I pull it off and notice that the tape is shredded and the only place there is tape is at the point closest to the outside of the threads on the arm (i.e. closest to the shower head side of the threads, if that makes sense).

I tried doing more wraps, same issue. I tried a few less wraps, same issue. Tried heavy duty gray and white tape. No real difference except rate of weep.

I inspected, very carefully, the male threads of the arm and the female threads of the elbow and all looks clean, no burrs I see nor cracks.

So, thinking perhaps the tolerances are so small because these are both brand new, maybe pipe dope would be a better option. I put the dope on, tightened that sucker on and finally, no weeping. Or so I thought.

Both the bath and shower are capped off, so just to be sure, I have left pressure on it for about 5 days as I was putting up drywall in the rest of the bathroom. On day 3, I checked it again and I thought it had the most tiny little drop of water and I reached up to touch it and got some dope on my finger and it didn't really look wet, but I was suspicious. This morning, I checked it again and didn't see any drips, so was comfortable putting up backer to prepare for tile.

I put the first piece up, but then had something else to do for a few hours. I just got back to it and checked one last time as I was getting close to covering up the plumbing with the backer and son of a *****, there is, once again the teeniest little drip of water weeping. This time I know it is water because I used a single sheet of TP and wicked it away.

I am frustrated at this point and not sure what else to do. Does anyone have any ideas? This is going to put me behind now as if I change something to fix it, I feel I need to wait a few days to see if something crops up because I don't want to do all this tile work to have to take it apart sometime in the near future. Would adding a hemp string around it possibly be the last bit I need to get it solidly sealed?
 

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I had a similar issue recently that is worth you considering. I tiny leak developed at one of the drop ears for the washer that I had installed six months earlier. The only possible source that crossed my mind was the threads, since that is where I could feel and see water, but on closer inspection it turned out to be a problem with the fitting itself. The drop ear in the photo was screwed to the underside of a horizontal surface. Very, very slowly a droplet of water would form where I’ve shown with the red arrow. Even with a magnifying glass I can see no hole or crack there. The two green arrows point to the blue/green corrosion staining from the water as it ran down towards the threads.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response! I am positive it is coming from the inside, at the bottom. The reason is because the drop of water is so tiny (like seriously the size of a pinhead) that it doesn't even reach the bottom of the thickness of the OD of the drop ear. It is right in the space between the shower arm and the elbow.

I think I screwed myself a little bit, basically making a problem that probably would have never really manifested into a larger problem. Meaning, I kept it under pressure for 5+ days and it only leaked 2 times, and it was a single drip of literally the size of a pinhead. Had I done a "normal" hour or so pressure test, I would have never seen this and called it good. Considering, under actual usage, this joint would never be under this much pressure for this long, it most likely would never have weeped this little bit at all. I think a crack is certainly possible, though if it is a crack, it'd have to be the teeniest of cracks to leak such a tiny amount. Normally, with a crack, I'd expect it to leak a lot more and nearly immediately. Certainly within an hour, but this didn't.
 

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You’re correct that for a shower head the threads aren’t going to see the same pressure as during your test. Do you feel comfortable putting it into a tiled wall? Would it be a lot of work to just replace the fitting?

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You’re correct that for a shower head the threads aren’t going to see the same pressure as during your test. Do you feel comfortable putting it into a tiled wall? Would it be a lot of work to just replace the fitting?

Chris
It wouldn't be a lot of work to replace the fitting, though I couldn't easily just replace the drop ear itself. I'd have to cut the pipe further down and then sweat on a new elbow and then use a coupling to sweat to the pipe coming from the valve. The way I see it is that is adding in 2 new potential failure points, but that is only a maybe. I think I am going to replace though after all.
 
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