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 Post subject: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 4:55 am 
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A water leak sprung due to roots bending the pipes. There's a hackberry tree nearby that we don't want to remove. Considered by some to be a trash tree, as ugly as it is, it's huge and provides valuable shade. But its roots are invasive.

While preparing to fix a leak where the roots had lifted and broken a copper to PVC joint, I was using my Sawzall to cut roots away. Not realizing how close an adjacent copper line was. I thought the second buried copper pipe was a root and gladly attacked it. Of course, quite immediately I received shower of high pressure water.

I turned off the supply and clamped the cut with two hose clamps and a 2" piece of vinyl hose cut longitudinally so it would slip onto the pipe. That's holding for now, but I want a permanent solution that won't involve anymore digging or cutting roots. The following photo shows the lower pipe that was previously buried. The patch is clear vinyl, but is so muddy you can't tell. The second hose clamp is adjacent to the first, but it's so covered in mud you can't see it well in the photo. The top part of the cut is shown in red.

Attachment:
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The cut is a clean saw cut in the side of and perpendicular to the 3/4" copper pipe. I know the "proper" way to fix it is to cut all the way through, separate the pieces, slip on a copper sleeve, put both pieces in and sweat it.

The problem is the pipes are no longer round. I'd rather not cut all the way through, I just want to plug the hole. Researching on the net, I came across this idea and want to see if anyone can poke holes in it, pun intended.

You make a snap-on copper patch, snap it on, and then sweat that to fill voids with solder. The patch is made of a straight coupling bushing cut longitudinally which yields two pieces, one bigger than the other. You use the bigger piece. It snaps right on the side of a pipe, per the following photos.

First photo: How the patch is cut
Second photo: Patch not snapped on
Third photo: Patch snapped on

The beauty is that the pipe doesn't have be round. Once it's snapped on, you sweat that piece. For good measure I'd still add the hose clamps. Is this a proper, long term fix?


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 5:05 am 
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Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
No. But what do I know, except that I hate plumbing.

I would use a Sharkbite connector, after cutting the pipe all the way thru. That will hold for a long time. Tie a length of wire with bright insulation to the pipe before you bury it, so you can locate the splice maybe someday, hopefully never.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 5:16 am 
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What is the pressure? There are many types of repair fittings, somemeantfor pipes always under pressure, some not.

I had to fix tree root disruption of some lawn irrigation lines last year. Flexible PVC sections with Sharkbite type connectors at each end were very helpful. Those lines are only under pressure five minutes per day, or less.

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Last edited by FStephenMasek on Jun Thu 13, 2019 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 5:23 am 
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I did the exact thing when a floor guy drove a nail in ¾" type m copper, 30 years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 5:26 am 
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Location: Norfolk, VA
Get yourself one of the 2-bolt saddle pipe patching clamps - it's similar to what you have, but made for either temporary or permanent repairs.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 11:58 am 
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Location: Sunbury, Ohio 43074
+1 to the saddle clamp. Just clean up the pipe for the entire length of the clamp + an inch or two before application.

The sweat patch should work as well, and doesn't really matter if the pipe is round or not.... solder will fill the voids. But I'd be concerned, long term, that due to the saw cut, the pipe will eventually flex enough to break more even under the sweat patch, and start leaking again.

Sharkbite probably won't work if the pipe "roundness" is deformed too much.

Personally, I'd cut the pipe and use a sweat coupling the normal way. You can make the pipe round enough with a pair of pliers, or even a rod inserted in the pipe that you use for reforming (swivel it around to "round" out the opening) f, again knowing that any small voids will fill with solder.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 5:46 pm 
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The tree roots may continue to give you problems as long as your plumbing runs through that trees root zone.

A long term fix is to re-route your underground piping around the root zone, but involves much more digging and another pipe splice.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Thu 13, 2019 11:06 pm 
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Macrohenry wrote:
A water leak sprung due to roots bending the pipes. There's a hackberry tree nearby that we don't want to remove. Considered by some to be a trash tree, as ugly as it is, it's huge and provides valuable shade. But its roots are invasive.

While preparing to fix a leak where the roots had lifted and broken a copper to PVC joint, I was using my Sawzall to cut roots away. Not realizing how close an adjacent copper line was. I thought the second buried copper pipe was a root and gladly attacked it. Of course, quite immediately I received shower of high pressure water.

I turned off the supply and clamped the cut with two hose clamps and a 2" piece of vinyl hose cut longitudinally so it would slip onto the pipe. That's holding for now, but I want a permanent solution that won't involve anymore digging or cutting roots. The following photo shows the lower pipe that was previously buried. The patch is clear vinyl, but is so muddy you can't tell. The second hose clamp is adjacent to the first, but it's so covered in mud you can't see it well in the photo. The top part of the cut is shown in red.

Attachment:
patchannotated.jpg


The cut is a clean saw cut in the side of and perpendicular to the 3/4" copper pipe. I know the "proper" way to fix it is to cut all the way through, separate the pieces, slip on a copper sleeve, put both pieces in and sweat it.

The problem is the pipes are no longer round. I'd rather not cut all the way through, I just want to plug the hole. Researching on the net, I came across this idea and want to see if anyone can poke holes in it, pun intended.

You make a snap-on copper patch, snap it on, and then sweat that to fill voids with solder. The patch is made of a straight coupling bushing cut longitudinally which yields two pieces, one bigger than the other. You use the bigger piece. It snaps right on the side of a pipe, per the following photos.

First photo: How the patch is cut
Second photo: Patch not snapped on
Third photo: Patch snapped on

The beauty is that the pipe doesn't have be round. Once it's snapped on, you sweat that piece. For good measure I'd still add the hose clamps. Is this a proper, long term fix?


In my experience, If a pipe with a patch of that type is used, the patch, pipe and solder will fracture, if bent at all. If you insist on keeping the tree I would advise against such a patch.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 2:37 am 
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19&41 wrote:
In my experience, If a pipe with a patch of that type is used, the patch, pipe and solder will fracture, if bent at all. If you insist on keeping the tree I would advise against such a patch.


Good point. I suppose I could protect it more by installing a line of hose clamps over the sweated patch, or manufacturing a large wooden clamp that would protect a few inches of that region. Such a big clamp might be a good idea because even if the pipe was cut and a coupler bushing was soldered on, someday it might still be subject to forces against it.

The saddle patches I've researched seem to be considered short term solutions. If they were long term fixes, I'd prefer them over the soldering method as the flexible seal would still work even if torqued. What kind of life in the ground do these saddle patches have?


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 2:54 am 
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I've not used them buried, I just know how they have done with any bending or flexing. If you can dry the ends, maybe a piece of tubing with 2 unions soldered into place after cutting out the bad portion.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 4:28 am 
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What is the usage of the pipe you are repairing?
What about this: http://www.duraplastics.com/userfiles/f ... et-333.pdf

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 6:38 am 
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If you have an oxy-fuel torch you can just directly hard solder the saw cut. Same stuff AC guys use. It's as strong as the parent pipe/tubing material. Currently, what is popular in the AC field needs no flux. It melts at a temp not too far from copper, so some techs refer to it as welding, but it's closer to brazing than welding. Of course, with water in the line it's near impossible, but you should be able to drain it from one end or the other, and leave a valve open to allow for air/steam expansion. I've repaired lots of copper punctures and saw wounds with it. I don't remember the specific alloy I use, but it's similar to the old sil-phos. Not cheap, but good to have around.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 12:28 pm 
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Just use a SharkBite connector. They come in many configurations and will connect to copper PEX and other tubing types. They just push on and should last as long as a sweat connection.


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 2:53 pm 
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I've looked at Sharkbite and I don't see how they work and I do wonder how they hold up. The technology is beyond me and I'd love to understand how it works. I've seen them at the hardware store, triangular teeth and all, but I don't see what forms the seal. Is it flex resistant? Does the pipe have to be smooth and perfectly round? Can you slide the connector both ways until you get it where you want it, or does it limit you to only pushing pipe in from each end?


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 3:04 pm 
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Tony Wells wrote:
If you have an oxy-fuel torch you can just directly hard solder the saw cut. Same stuff AC guys use. It's as strong as the parent pipe/tubing material. Currently, what is popular in the AC field needs no flux. It melts at a temp not too far from copper, so some techs refer to it as welding, but it's closer to brazing than welding. Of course, with water in the line it's near impossible, but you should be able to drain it from one end or the other, and leave a valve open to allow for air/steam expansion. I've repaired lots of copper punctures and saw wounds with it. I don't remember the specific alloy I use, but it's similar to the old sil-phos. Not cheap, but good to have around.

The beauty of your suggestion is that it attacks only the problem area, which would allow flexing to occur even 1/2 inch away without affecting the repaired cut as it's now stronger metal. I have an Oxy torch, but I prefer not to use it on copper, afraid to melt what I have. I'd need to practice first.

However, your suggestion does give me another idea. I could wrap a sufficient amount of 18 gauge solid wire around the cut, having soaked the wire in flux, and then just flow solder into that and into the tight wound coil around the circumference. I've repaired other metal work that way. So I'd be filling the cut with copper and the solder would fill the tiny gaps. It could be built up bigger than even necessary.

Best idea yet? What are the holes in this?

BTW, the temporary patch is holding and I have time to get the best solution, taking advantage of these hot days to dry up that messy dirt.


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 4:27 pm 
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Just run the flame a little rich, as this brings the temp down to a point where you don't have to be quite so careful about melt-through. Same as you should do when brazing CI. Definitely don't want to use an oxidizing flame, but rather a reducing flame for this.

It's just a suggestion, but it's based on many repairs (and new builds). I rarely use any soft solder any more unless it's just impossible to get too. The modern silver solder wets and wicks around the joint pretty well if it's hot enough. I have a Prestolite torch, but never tried it to see of air/fuel would get hot enough. It's just acetylene anyway. It may. Time for a knowledge increasing experiment.

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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Fri 14, 2019 4:52 pm 
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I've used the SharkBite fittings for several years and never had a problem with them. They do require the tube to be round so if the end is flattened you would need to cut back to a round section. The fittings use an internal O-Ring to seal and you need push in the tube about 3/4”. A ring of very small metal teeth slanted backwards allow you to slide the tube in but make it impossible to pull it back out. The fitting has a nylon ring which if you push on with a simple tool will open the teeth allowing the fitting to be removed.

My latest project with these fittings was to replace an external faucet that the shut off valve to it was no longer working. The new faucet with a SharkBite fitting had an valve that didn't require an external shut off valve. I cut the supply valve off and temporarily capped the line with a SharkBite until I figured out how to mount the new valve. The problem I ran into is that things didn't quite line up. I think originally they used a little slop in the sweat fittings to get things hooked together and soldered them all at once. I solved the problem by using a short section of PEX pipe between the valve and the coupling. It had just enough flex so I could deal with the alignment problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 4:40 pm 
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YAY, LEAK FIXED! The copper pipe had to be rounded out so a compression fitting could be used, then PVC to the union.

Next question: Is there a way to protect this area where all the fittings and unions are? My first thought is to drive long spikes deep into the ground, but it seems roots would find their way through the gaps. Any ideas?


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 Post subject: Re: Dadburn roots--fixing a water leak
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 4:56 pm 
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Location: Norfolk, VA
Macrohenry wrote:
Next question: Is there a way to protect this area where all the fittings and unions are? My first thought is to drive long spikes deep into the ground, but it seems roots would find their way through the gaps. Any ideas?


If it's more than a foot deep, go with some copper sulfate crystals - it'll saturate the soil, and kill any roots by contact. It's sold as root kill for sewer pipe as well. I get it at Ace Hardware - last I got was $13.99 for a pound container.

My ex-B-I-L, a master plumber, advised me to use it after I patched my main copper water line in 1992 - no problems since, and an Azalea bush a foot away is thriving......same goes for the Dogwood about 30" away.

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