Monday, November 28, 2005

Plumbing by Trial and Error

Okay, this was the scene of my latest, and hopefully my last, flood. Some background: the contractor that I fired (Osni) had moved this radiator because the new jacuzzi tub was a couple of inches bigger than the old tub and the radiator, therefore, didn't fit anymore. The joker who moved the radiator used to work for the gas company, and if he can't connect water pipes without leaking, I shudder to think about the gas pipes he's placed in people's homes. But I digress.

This was leaking from that top of the elbow here. If you look closely, I don't really see any solder there, so it's kinda' obvious that it would leak. If you look closely, you'll see that I was using a butt-ugly green shirt to catch the dripping water. That's a shirt one of the contractor's workers left behind. When I saw that shirt I should've realized they were "mentally challenged".

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It's kinda hard to see, but what looks like solder is just the color of the fitting. There is no (visible) solder on top there. When I eventually got the fitting off, I think I figured out the "plumber's" mistake. The pipe looked kinda dirty. He should've cleaned it more thoroughly with sandpaper before trying to solder the new pipe to it. Even I know that, and I'm not even a plumber, I'm a lawyer...technically.

Look at all the solder dripping down the side of this fitting. Maybe if more of that had ended up on the topside of the fitting I wouldn't be having these problems.

This is me with "the persuader". Together we previously killed a 2" thick piece of black iron pope that defied our will (although we wore out three blades in the process). But that is a story for another day. I knew the copper pipe would be no match for us.

After I cut through the pipe, all hell broke loose. I caused another flood. Since this was on the top floor, howerver, this flooded several floors. It leaked down to my kitchen and soaked my overpriced dining set (which I had placed temporarily in the kitchen...6 months ago).

In hindsight, I should've drained the water out of the pipes FIRST. I figured since it was a small pipe on the top floor that there wouldn't be much water in it. I forgot that it was probably under pressure and--a flood later--I realized the error of my ways. Even though most fo the water was already on the floor, I still had to go the basement and drain about 10 gallons out of the system because my attempts at soldering were causing the remaining water in the pipes to boil and spill fun fun.

This picture doesn't really do the gusher justice. This is after the fountain died down to a mere trickle, but I thought that you blog fans might like a fleeting image of my nemesis.

This is what the thing looked like after I was done cutting through it. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have been using a plugged in power tool on a pipe that is gushing water everywhere. I read somewhere that electricity and water are not a good combination.

Okay, after I heated up the coupling and the 90 degree fitting enough to melt the old solder, I pulled the old connections off and was left with this.
Which I meticulously cleaned with sandpaper and a pipe tool, the added flux and soldered new fittings onto them.

Here is a picture of the heat shield. As you can see, it's actually touching the fitting and the wall (which is flammable) so it was difficult to get a torch in there to take the old piece off and put the new ones on.

Despite all the setbacks, I WAS able to weld the pieces together and it didn't leak (except for the minor leak caused by my forgetting to close the bleeder valve before testing it).

Okay, this is what the finished product looks like.

This was probably my most difficult weld to date because

1. it involved 3/4" pipe (instead of 1/2");

2. it was in a reaaaaaly tight space...near a lot of flammable materials;

3. I was asn't working with all new pipe (I had to remove a fitting, clean the connection and re-attach a new fitting to someone else's mistake; and

4. I had a yet another flood. But in true ninja fashion I overcame incredible odds using my guile, unconventional tools and cat-like reflexes and I got it done.

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