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1

Monday, June 18th 2007, 6:45pm

Replacing galvanized water pipe with copper?

During the course of trying to tee off my main water supply pipe (to
feed a new sprinkler system), I've encountered the need to replace my
old 3/4" galvanized steel supply pipe with 1" copper pipe. I've
received quotes from three plumbers ranging from $700 to $1000, so I'm
trying to figure out whether it's the type of project that a plumbing
newbie can handle. I'm nervous about screwing it up and being without
water for several days.

I have a photo illustration of the project the project on my website
(http://snice.net/pipe/) that will give you an idea of the scale.
It's about 20" from the union with the city pipe to my copper
sprinkler tee. It runs uphill and jinks slightly, and having never
worked with copper before, I'm uncertain as to whether I'll be working
with a blowtorch to bend or joint my way along.

Also with the connections, is it as easy as it looks? Just get a pipe
wrench and screw the pipes together?

Appreciate any insight.

mrfixit

Moderator

Posts: 1,450

Location: USA

2

Monday, June 18th 2007, 7:26pm

First of all let me say I see a repair job by someone who doesn't have a whole lot of experience with old galvanized pipe. Second you should never have a galvinized fitting connected to copper. This can cause electrolisis which will speed up the corrosion process. You can get away with it above ground but not buried. Also I see a very good trench digger. I'll hire him if he needs a job. =) Working with copper isn't that difficult. I can remember my first time. I used a lot of solder but I got the job done. I think you can too. You may also want to consider using PVC pipe. This would be simple to do and save money. I don't know where you live but I doubt anything that deep can freeze. That's my 2 cents. Good luck!
If I can't fix it, it's broken!

3

Monday, June 18th 2007, 8:14pm

Thanks for your reply, MrFixit.

The "repair job" you see is a professional plumber (from Jim Dandy Plumbing in the Seattle area) teeing of from my galvanized steel line so that I can feed my sprinkler system.

I'm open to educating myself on sweating copper, and at this point, it would help me if someone would walk me through the various fittings that I'll need to lay the new pipe from the starting point(http://snice.net/pipe/startpoint.jpg) to the ending point (http://snice.net/pipe/endpoint.jpg).

Thanks!

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,028

Location: Metro NYC

4

Tuesday, June 19th 2007, 3:53am

Seeing sweated copper joints in a buried building supply line makes me want smack a plumber upside the head. The required (or preferred, if you want to be wishy-washy about it) method for connecting the supply line copper is always mechanical, not soldering. Using type L soft copper tubing (ka-ching!) and waterworks compression fittings would be my method to replace the old galvanized. {Flared fittings would be even stronger, but there are special tools involved, so leave that method for the 'old school' purists} If you can obtain a 20 foot length of soft L copper, you'll have enough to replace the galvanized, and the waterworks compression fittings mean you don't have to solder anything. That you already have some soft L in the supply run, makes it just possible that you could get by with the more common 'hard' copper tubing, but you would be depending on the existing piece of soft L to make up for any misalignment.

HooKooDooKu

Supreme Member

5

Wednesday, June 20th 2007, 5:28am

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Wet_Boots</i>
<br />Seeing sweated copper joints in a buried building supply line makes me want smack a plumber upside the head...
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Wet_Boots,

Other than it's against most modern plumbing codes, can you give any details on WHY you shouldn't have buried sweated copper joints?

You see, I had not learned about this rule until AFTER I used sweated copper joint on a 1" mainline running under my driveway for my irrigation system. Just wondering how concerned I should be about those joints as it is now impractical to go back and 'fix' it.

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,028

Location: Metro NYC

6

Wednesday, June 20th 2007, 10:09am

I learned of this official dislike for sweated connections from plumbing officials who had no intention of finishing a curbside water-meter connection if there was any sweated copper. I forget whether I asked why, but it was very clearly a point that was not open to discussion. I expect the possibility of a leak is the reason, and since many northern homes have the meters in basements, the leaks would not be metered, and the water paid for. And of course, an underground leak is a possible avenue for contamination. Given the ease of the use of the waterworks compression fittings, there is no need to worry about soldered connections. Don't forget, sometimes the shutoff valves aren't perfect, and the connections are being made with a bit of water flowing, and mechanical connectors aren't bothered by that.

HooKooDooKu

Supreme Member

7

Wednesday, June 20th 2007, 12:15pm

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Wet_Boots</i>
<br />... Given the ease of the use of the waterworks compression fittings, there is no need to worry about soldered connections...<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

My problem was that I have an 11' wide driveway, but could only dig a 5' trench beside it to bore under it for an irrigation mainline. To reduce the amount of work for this bore, I decided to use 1" copper rather than 1" PVC Sch.40, I even got lucky and found some 20' pieces of 1" Type-L copper at a clearance price. But to get the pipe in the bore in a 5' trench, I had to cut it into 4' segments that I sweated back together within the bore/trench. Never even got the opportunity of pressure test my sweat connections for leaks. I just had to rely on the fact that I had managed to sweat over 30 3/4" copper joins (to run a new hose bibb on the far side of the house) without a single one of them leaking. MAPP gas is a great thing for the DIY copper plumber.

Wet_Boots

Supreme Member

Posts: 4,028

Location: Metro NYC

8

Wednesday, June 20th 2007, 3:08pm

The odds are good that a pro would have found a better way to go about things. Occasionally, the best way to deal with a driveway is to go the long way around the house, since pipe can be pulled with a plow.

Remember, that a service line to the house is held to a higher standard than the sprinkler zone plumbing. With coils of soft L and flare or compression fittings, there will never be a need to have a solder joint in a service line.

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