making baseboard pipe connection and running out of options (and pipe)

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kovacs

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Trying to make a baseboard connection. We tried connecting the old 90* elbow with bleeder valve to the new baseboard element's pipe using a short piece of 3/4" pipe and two 45* elbows. We had a tough time getting these 45* joints sealed and we kept having leaks every time we tested. After a few attempts, the joints had too much old solder to have much hope of getting a good seal, so we decided to start over.

We cut and removed the elbows; when pulling the short piece of pipe (that bridged between the old 90* elbow and the first 45* elbow) out of the 90* elbow, the elbow cracked.

As you can see from pics below, the pipe comes out of the ground at an angle, so not much working room on the backside of the pipe.




The ground here is slab - probably a few inches thick, and then dirt below. Pipe runs underground to another baseboard on the same/ground floor. Not sure if it's sitting in the dirt or in the concrete - house is in NY and was built in the 1960s if that provides a clue on how the pipe was run.

We removed the 90* elbow, which came off fairly easily, but the top of the pipe coming out of the ground was cracked (it is very thin - they really cheaped out using such thin copper for an underground run), so I cut the cracked portion off using a hacksaw. Started sanding and noticed that the back of the pipe is slightly deformed:



So I cut 3/4" off the pipe to remove the deformed portion. Problem I'm facing now is the top of the pipe isn't perfectly round. A coupling will not fit on.



What's the best way to proceed? I could try to round the top of the pipe using a crescent wrench (spinning it around to reshape the oval into a circle). Or buy a tool like this Pasco copper sizing tool (#4344 for 3/4" pipe): http://www.pascospecialty.com/products/C17.pdf

In terms of connection options, I may have just enough pipe to go with a Sharkbite 90* elbow - and then connect oxygen barrier pex between the Sharkbite elbow and a Sharkbite coupling I'd put on the baseboard element's pipe. Benefit of using pex here is reducing the number of joints given the pipe coming out of the ground is not in line with baseboard element's pipe. Of course sweating copper is another option - using a couple of 45* elbows to get everything lined up.

My concern is that I'm running out of exposed pipe - there's 1-1/4" above ground. If I screw up this exposed pipe using a crescent wrench (or if that simply doesn't get it round enough to get a good seal with either a Sharkbite or sweated-on copper elbow), or if using a sizing/rerounding tool damages the pipe underground, then I'm looking at a lot more work to break up the concrete.

Sweat-on copper elbow seems like the better option given the limited amount of pipe, but I'm worried that unless it's perfectly round, there might be little gaps between the pipe and elbow that won't fill up with solder since the elbow would sit on top - i.e., seems unlikely the solder is going to flow up to fill any gaps other than at the very bottom of the joint.

Given how thin walled this pipe is and that it already cracked when removing the old 90* elbow, I'm worried and figured I'd ask here before proceeding.


 

Diehard

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If I were doing it, I'd consider trying one of these extra long(repair type) couplings. Once you got it to the point of being able to force a coupling on there. That way you can slip it further down on the remaining piece of pipe and have a greater chance of a tight soldered connection.
https://www.supplyhouse.com/Sioux-Chief-600-306PK-3-4-x-6-Sweat-Full-Slip-Copper-Repair-Coupling?gclid=Cj0KCQiAtOjyBRC0ARIsAIpJyGPgyWoxQD5eOkV17BXu-ZWYxKJzb5GiEt0yKFmrmmC4ysT36i6irOcaAt1xEALw_wcB

Will be interesting to hear what the experienced plumbers would do.
 
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wood4d

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you need to put a coupling on this after trying to round it out. coupling, pipe, elbow and cut the pipe on the right back several inches for more pipe and a coupling. start soldering on the right and with low heat, and move to the left. The pipe on the element side can be cut back as much as you need to get to "fresh" copper. remove aluminum fins as needed, give yourself room. This is m copper at best so slow and low heat is the story.
 

frodo

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This is what i do. May or may not work for you

First. I grab my crescent wrench. I adjust it to fit a NEW piece of pipe
then I slide it over the bent pipe and work it back and forth.
THEN
I grab a tee. and insert a short piece of pipe into one of the openings
I use the pipe I inserted as a handle. put/drive/forcefully make the tee go onto the pipe
use the handle to wiggle it back and forth

your pipe is now round. proceed in hooking up the base board heater
 

Aloha Mark

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If the tubing coming out of the ground is out of round, it's going to be difficult to get either a coupling or a tee over this tubing to make it round. A brass tee costs $17, and was not meant to be used as a repair tool.



Using a hacksaw originally to remove the elbow was also not a good idea. All this manhandling leads to a foobar situation that may require a licensed professional plumber to repair. He may recommend cracking into the concrete to place a coupler lower in the ground, followed by a new piece of tubing from a good plumbing house. This sounds like a nightmare, but that's what home ownership is all about. Yuck.
 

kovacs

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If the tubing coming out of the ground is out of round, it's going to be difficult to get either a coupling or a tee over this tubing to make it round. A brass tee costs $17, and was not meant to be used as a repair tool.



Using a hacksaw originally to remove the elbow was also not a good idea. All this manhandling leads to a foobar situation that may require a licensed professional plumber to repair. He may recommend cracking into the concrete to place a coupler lower in the ground, followed by a new piece of tubing from a good plumbing house. This sounds like a nightmare, but that's what home ownership is all about. Yuck.
I think @frodo's idea is to use a crescent wrench to get the pipe round enough to get a fitting on it, and then use a tee to get the pipe further into round.

I only used the hacksaw AFTER removing the 90* elbow using heat - when we pulled the elbow off, the top of the pipe was cracked, and below that, it was badly dented, so I used the hacksaw to remove that portion of pipe.

I've been busy with other things, so I haven't had a chance to get back to this, but I'm leaning toward trying @frodo's suggestion. Not sure there are any better options before the worst case of breaking into the concrete.
 

frodo

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I have fixed literally thousands of out of round pipes Using this method
I have fixed Pipes that were bent into an oval shape
I have fixed pipes where thieves bent the pipe back and forth till it broke off

It takes time and patience.

CURIOUS @Aloha Mark

""""A brass tee costs $17, and was not meant to be used as a repair tool.""""
A copper tee cost $2.00 and ANYTHING can be used as a tool
 

Aloha Mark

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Not knowing the history of how the tubing got out of the round, are we saying that a prior repair caused the problem? Hope there is enough room (360 deg) to slide the crescent wrench over the tubing, and that the repair can be successfully completed. I would recommend putting a guide line on the tubing to measure the amount of twisting it undergoes during the rounding process. How much muscle (force) is involved?

I had a house like this in NY, where the copper tubing emerged from a slab. The original plumber was the brother of the wife of the owner, and that plumber knew what he was doing back in the 1950's. We can't always be that lucky.
 

frodo

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I think @frodo's idea is to use a crescent wrench to get the pipe round enough to get a fitting on it, and then use a tee to get the pipe further into round.

I only used the hacksaw AFTER removing the 90* elbow using heat - when we pulled the elbow off, the top of the pipe was cracked, and below that, it was badly dented, so I used the hacksaw to remove that portion of pipe.

I've been busy with other things, so I haven't had a chance to get back to this, but I'm leaning toward trying @frodo's suggestion. Not sure there are any better options before the worst case of breaking into the concrete.

A swedgeing tool can be purchased.
https://www.toolup.com/Pasco-4343-1-2-copper-sizer?catargetid=120204890000444943&CADEVICE=c
 

frodo

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that's nothing....Factory ends on new pipe can look like that from shipping
hit it with the crescent wrench, then use a 90 or a tee. with a 6'' piece of copper in it as a handle
tap the fitting on that pipe and twist it back and forth
 

kovacs

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Had a chance to get back to this. So I used a crescent wrench to get it somewhat round. Given the location of the pipe, I only had a 90* arc to swing the wrench, so I couldn't get the pipe perfectly, round, which I suppose is par for the course since most times you'll never have a 360" arc around the pipe, and often won't have even a 180* arc.

But I got it round enough to fit a 90* elbow on (not enough room to turn a tee, so I went with an elbow). Swung that 90* elbow a bunch of times with a 'handle' as @frodo suggested. I can see why the handle was recommended - too hard to turn an elbow (no leverage) during this process.


The pipe is a bit gouged up from the wrench and elbow. Does it need to be perfectly smoothed, or can I hit it with a light sanding to knock down any small burrs and proceed with sweating?


Any tips when sweating to encourage the solder to travel up to fill the length of the joint, as opposed to just filling around the bottom of the joint?
 

Matt30

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Soldering is all about torch control. Solder will flow to where the heat is most intense. Heat the upper portion of the hub and you will get a wicking motion that will draw the solder upwards.

Too much heat and you have a runny mess. Take your time.

Also this is a time I would use 50/50 solder instead of lead free. The 50/50 is better for sealing rough scratches and imperfections
 

frodo

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Soldering is all about torch control. Solder will flow to where the heat is most intense. Heat the upper portion of the hub and you will get a wicking motion that will draw the solder upwards.

Too much heat and you have a runny mess. Take your time.

Also this is a time I would use 50/50 solder instead of lead free. The 50/50 is better for sealing rough scratches and imperfections
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
50/50 is PERFECT...

BUT Lemmie introduce you to some stuff By Harris Industries
it is called ''NICK" solder. buy a roll of it and check it out. It is 95/5 but flows like 50/50
 

kovacs

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Just to close the loop on this, we were able to solder the joint, and no leaks. Thanks for all the advice, especially @frodo
Saved the worst case scenario of having to break up the concrete to access pipe underground.

Couple of things I learned.
1. Elbow on a short piece of pipe makes a good pipe re-rounding tool
2. use 50/50 lead/tin solder on tough joints (assuming application is one in which lead can be used)
3. do not use big box store street elbows. That's what we did first time around. Those street elbow joints were just too sloppy to fill with lead-free solder in a tight corner with very limited access. This time around, we used very short sections of pipe between each elbow, which resulted in much snugger fits that were easier to fill with solder.
 
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