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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    9

    Default Old copper joint

    I have a old copper t-joint behind my hot water heater that has a small leg that comes off for the top of the water heater. The pipe has developed a small leakat the top of it. It only leaks about 2-3 drops a day but it has been going on for awhile since there is some calcium built up on the outside of the line. I know I will have to drain the tank to move it and I will have to drain the lines. What I need to know is can I unsolder the pipe that is leaking and clean the joint and put a new piece of pipe in. The part that is leaking is only 12 inches long. The other 2sides of the joint is ok plus one goes through a wall and would be very hard to repair.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    443

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    If the leak is THAT small (one or two drops a day), then you might want to try to clean the joint with emery cloth or a steel brush and wrap it very tightly with black electrical friction (plastic) tape.

    Use the best quality black tape you can find (3M is preferred); good quality tape will stretch without breaking as it is wound around the joint, thus getting a good seal.

    The minerals & salts in the water will usually seal up that small a leak without having to do a tank drain and re-solder to the joint.

    If you DO have to re-solder, you can clean and use the present copper tubing after it is cleaned to a shiny copper sheen with the emery cloth.
    Last edited by JacktheShack; 01-25-2008 at 02:04 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    9

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Thanks I will try that. I know it is a small leak. I just didn't want it to get worst while I was not at home because it has been going on for a while by the amount of calcium on the copper tubing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sand Springs, OK
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    467

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    I don't think you can unsolder a joint. I think even the experts just cut back below the leak and put in two sleeves and a length of pipe. As we saw on ATOH last night don't skimp on the guage of the pipe if you do replace that area.
    Debby in Oklahoma

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Quote Originally Posted by debbysewn View Post
    I don't think you can unsolder a joint. I think even the experts just cut back below the leak and put in two sleeves and a length of pipe. As we saw on ATOH last night don't skimp on the guage of the pipe if you do replace that area.
    Yes you can un-solder a joint if it is drained and dry. The problem is that it takes a lot of work to remove enough of the solder so the pipe will fit in a new T. It's easier, faster, and more cost effective to cut it out and add a new piece of pipe and a sleeve.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    4,045

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    Yes you can un-solder a joint if it is drained and dry. The problem is that it takes a lot of work to remove enough of the solder so the pipe will fit in a new T. It's easier, faster, and more cost effective to cut it out and add a new piece of pipe and a sleeve.
    Jack
    Ditto to what Jack said.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    A section of pipe doesn't even need to be cut out, just cut the pipe at the leak (after doing the emory cloth thing) and then slip a new sweat union fitting over it. The trick here is to get a union that doesn't have a stop in the middle of it (or file out one that does) so that you can slide the union all the way over one side of the pipe, align the pipe halves and slide the union across the joint. Solder it up and you're all done.


    Another method that works, but I don't recommend it if you can do the above repair, is to use a bandaid. You cut a union fitting in half along it's length and it's width to come up with a arched piece of copper. Shine up the patch and the repair area and solder it in place.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Well if you want quick fixes and the leak is in the right place, get a piece of rubber gasket and a hose clamp.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  9. #9
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    Aug 2007
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    7,189

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    Well if you want quick fixes and the leak is in the right place, get a piece of rubber gasket and a hose clamp.
    Jack
    I was thinking of adding that one too, but the whole dissimilar metals/corrosion thing made me think better of it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Old copper joint

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I think I will try cutting the copper tubing below the leaking joint and replace it. Then comes the true test to see if I can solder uphill. I have done horizontal and down but not up. If there is any suggestions on that I will be glad to read them, too.

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