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Self-inflicted plumbing disaster (need advice if possible)

Discussion in 'DIY Disasters' started by LoriT71, 17 Jan 2016.

  1. LoriT71

    LoriT71

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    New house, lots of DIY. I've always been fairly handy. But I seem to have developed a slightly manic "have-a-go-hero" mentality towards any jobs that come up nowadays. I've even turned my hand to bits and bobs of plumbing (replaced the waste unit on kitchen sink, repaired the mixer shower tap unit in the bathroom). And I've spent endless hours of watching YouTube videos on every DIY topic you could think of.

    So....tonight's job was prepping the bathroom floor for some new self-adhesive vinyl tiles (to be laid on top of existing laminate, to save the need to lay down plywood onto the bare floorboards). There's a lot of exposed pipework - it's a Wimpey No-Fines Concrete home. And this had been shoddily boxed in using some leftover laminate scraps and some wood glue and nails (very crappy job). So I'd decided to rip out all the existing "pipe-disguisers" and build my own tidy, but easily removable if needed, boxed-in thingies.

    Anyway, to cut a short story long! LOL! I wanted to give the room a really thorough clean - bath panel off and hoover into every nook and cranny (including scraping out 30 years' worth of dead skin cells leftover from the previous owner. Yuck). I'd reached the point of being ready to mop (with bleach) after having vacuumed for at least 90mins. I'd temporarily moved the sink pedestal stand to enable me to clean all round that area (including the yucky pipes). And I'd (stupidly, I know) assumed that the sink would be able to support itself without the pedestal (what I only discovered later was that the sink is not fixed to the wall at all - no screw attachments in sight! The only thing holding it up was a thin bead of silicone sealant!). So, at the point of me filling the bucket at the sink in order to mop the floor, the basin decided to just fall off the wall onto the floor! OMFG!

    Looking back, I think it must have happened in slow motion, because I had time to move my feet out of the way. This movement unfortunately meant that the bucket of hot water was deposited onto the bathroom floor (and through the ceiling of the boxroom downstairs which I'd just newly painted a few days ago! Groan!). The taps have a combination of flexible fittings and copper piping attached to them, so that kind of meant that not too much damage was done to the pipes by the fall.

    However, the pipe supplying hot water to the basin has a leak now (the major twisting jolt has obviously loosened something). I've traced it to a copper elbow joint (I think that's what it's called anyway). I turned off the water and then tried to tighten the nut. This has had some moderate success in slowing down the drip. But I'm obviously going to need to get the joint (at the very least) replaced. At the moment I am catching the drips in a shallow container.

    My question is this, would some kind of putty provide a temporary fix to the leaky joint? I have an insurance policy that I think covers me for things like this. But from what I know, they are not very quick to respond. And in the meantime, I don't want to have to have my water shut off. So I was thinking I'd go to screwfix tomorrow to get something to temporarily fix the leak. Would this product work?

    http://www.screwfix.com/p/no-nonsen...yHN7GlnqJCY4TzjTjQ50esneEl1EMD13lzxoCLeHw_wcB

    I'd prefer something that could be easily removed afterwards, rather than needing to cut the whole section of pipe out (the joint is very close to another joint, so there's not a lot of pipe to spare if cutting).

    Can anyone advise please? I feel like a total idiot for letting this happen!! At times like these, being a single female is just rubbish. I would even have settled for a partner there with me just to laugh at my stupidity (although, it would have been preferable to have a loving partner there fixing it for me instead! LOL! Or at least telling me that I was being an idiot with what I was doing). Oh well. ;)

    Any advice gratefully appreciated.

    Lori
    x
     
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  3. LoriT71

    LoriT71

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    Hahaha! I've just looked at what I've posted. People always dig me up about being overly long in my emails/texts/shopping lists/whatever! And I've been advised things like "just keep it simple - bullet points, etc". As you can see from my post above, I managed to follow that useful advice for the first 10 words - then it all went wrong (as usual!). Sorry! x
     
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  4. Mikefromlondon

    Mikefromlondon

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    looks like everyone on here has had a rofl and gone to sleep! but what a wonderful post, it could make a hollywood thriller with that script of yours and who knows
    it could be an oscar winner.
    Any way in order to help give you a best solution for your problem, would it be possible to post a picture of the leaky joint?
    Has your pipes got ball valve isolators? these look like a brass or chrome fitting with a pipe going in from each end, and going to the taps, or they may be incorporated within the flexible hoses, a screwdriver slot in the middle so that you could turn this [​IMG][​IMG]bit across to stop water leak from the taps, or other places along the pipe provided the leak is after this isolating valve and not before it. These are mostly fitted to all modern plumbing to allow one to isolate water flow to a particular tap to change washers etc whilst other taps are uneffected.
     
    Last edited: 17 Jan 2016
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  5. LoriT71

    LoriT71

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    Sorry for the delay in replying. I just spent an inordinately long time trying to get an "action" shot of the drip. I finally managed to persuade myself that people on this forum would more than likely be able to imagine what a leaky joint looked like. And also, since I am half insane with tiredness - what with it being nearly 5.30am - that maybe I should just take a bloody photo and upload it! LOL! I'm not sure whether logic or exhaustion won in the end.

    Anyway, I'll try to post the photos below (one "scenic" and one close-up). Unfortunately there are no isolation valves anywhere in the house....apart from the cold feed into the toilet. Unfortunately, the screwdriver slot for that particular valve faces the wall - with a gap between the pipe and wall of approx 3mm (or it did until I fixed it a couple of weeks ago - without any accidents that time).

    I temporarily shut off the main stopcock under the kitchen sink earlier tonight. And my little bits of fiddling with a spanner seemed to slow the leak down when I turned the stopcock back on. If the leak was faster then I'd obviously just keep the stopcock closed. But it's manageable for now. I've gone ahead and ordered two different lots of gunk from screwfix, the one I linked above and also this one: http://www.screwfix.com/p/fernox-ls-x-leak-sealer-50ml/23614

    Hopefully that should do the trick till I can arrange a plumber (or maybe replace the joint myself? Or should I just step away from the toolbox and quit while I'm ahead? LOL!). Ok, here are the pics:

    Leak.JPG

    Close up.JPG

    The sink is to the right of the photo - off screen. And the bath is to the right of the sink. This pipe feeds into the sink and the bath.

    Thanks for your reply by the way - especially given the silly time of night/morning. :)

    Lori
    x
     
  6. Nozzle

    Nozzle

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    If that were me, I'd be inclined to drain the system down and replace the threaded union with a soldered one. Once you've achieved one good soldered joint, you'll want to do more!

    You have a small outlay to get good materials - flux, blowtorch, heatproof mat, lead-free solder, wire wool.

    The trick to a good soldered joint is cleanliness. If there is corrosion or grit in there, the joint will be poor, or if the pipe still has water in, it'll never get hot enough to properly liquify the solder.#

    Nozzle
     
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  7. alan333

    alan333

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    If you can turn off the hot water... unscrew the fitting and see what's wrong with it. You might be more successful wrapping extra PTFE tape around the olive and re-assembling it than you would be with an external putty type bodge.
     
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  8. London Mike 49

    London Mike 49

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    This is how I would do it;
    1. Turn off water
    2. Remove compression elbow
    3. Remove olives using a olive puller or if confident, a saw and pliers
    4. Buy a John guest push on elbow and fit
    5. Job done!


    Step 4 could be , replace the olives and refit elbow but try and use copper olives instead of brass ones as these give a better seal and DON'T use any pft tape on the joint.

    Mike
     
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  9. Mikefromlondon

    Mikefromlondon

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    In view of the fact she has limited knowledge and experience with plumbing, I would keep it simple like first try and tighten that leaky joint a little more, but even a task as simple as this can result in a lot more disaster, as tightening force (torque) applied to top nut can stress other joints at the bottom, as the whole body would want to turn when you apply a force to tighten (torque) so she needs to counter act this force and do this with utmost care and not disturb the bottom soldered joint, she would need other tools like mole grip wrench to hold the elbow tightly with one hand whilst she turns the leaky nut in a clockwise direction. I hope she has a good set of open end spanners and size 24mm spanner to turn the nut and a mol grip wrench to hold the elbow and then apply counter torque to mol grip wrench and tightening force (in clockwise direction) to the leaky nut.

    If this still does not stop the drips, then she would be better taking other routes mentioned above, yes replace the olives or by trying to use PTF plumbing tape, by undoing the elbow after switching and draining all the water off, to do this close mains stopcock, open kitchen tap, cold or hot tap will depend what this pipe was for, if it was for cold water then open kitchen cold water tap, as well as the bath sink cold water tap for water to escape and drain from the kitchen sink, leaving the bath sink tap open will allow all the water to drain as there would be no water retained as the air gets sucked in through the bath sink open tap.

    open the elbow nut, draw the pipe out, examine the olive ring, and first try and wrap some plumbing PTF tape over it in a clockwise direction, around say 5 to 10 turns, and refit the nut, and start tightening gently, once fully tightened, switch water back on, close all open taps, and check for any further leaks.
     
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  11. DaveHerns

    DaveHerns

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    Does that connection into the soil pipe look a bit dodgy and as if it's been dolloped with silicone sealant??
     
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  12. theprinceofdarkness

    theprinceofdarkness

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    A problem I have experienced with olives is :- If you push the pipe right home, then the olive , when you tighten the back nut, the olive bites in where it is and does not move down the pipe to seal against the cone bit of the union. Some times just removing the whole pipe and filing 1mm or less of the end of it, allows to olive to seal before the pipe end hits its end stop. Sounds a bit like that with this one.
    Frank
     
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  13. LoriT71

    LoriT71

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    Thank you hugely for all of the helpful advice. As Mike highlighted though, I'm probably too much of a novice to attempt an "real" plumbing repairs. In the end I bought a new adjustable wrench and tried tightening the nut without trying anything else. This (which I did reeeeeeally carefully and slowly! LOL!) had moderately good success. The joint was only very slightly oozing by the time I'd finished - rather than any noticeable drip. I then was able to clean and dry the joint in order to apply some gungy stuff around the outside of the joint. This cured overnight and has temporarily addressed the problem.

    The waste pipe is definitely dodgy. I checked through the photos I'd taken prior to starting work in the bathroom, and the connection seems as loose and yucky looking "pre-sink-collapse-event" as it does now. However, I notice that there is an alarming amount of movement in the waste pipe. It seems to be freely able to move in and out of the large vertical soil pipe - so that must have happened during the mishap? I haven't noticed any leaks from the connection - and no yucky smells either. So I might just leave it for the time being until I can sort out what to do about the whole lot.

    My main concern at the moment is that the sink is not fixed to the wall in any way, and the pedestal stand is actually the wrong size for the basin - so the basin doesn't actually sit securely on top of it. I'm reluctant to just redo the thin bead of silicone sealant that was all that anchored the basin previously. So I'm looking into an alternative solution. I'd be worried about one of my visitors injuring themselves by accidentally knocking the sink over again. I actually can't believe it hasn't happened before now.

    Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to read my mammoth posting and for offering your words of wisdom. I love this forum for the way people are willing to take time out to help dafties like me.

    Lori
    x

    PS also, sorry for my delay in replying to you all with an update. I've just been working away like a mad-woman, laying the new bathroom tiles and boxing in the pipe work (using planks of wood and a jigsaw and everything! LOL! I even took care to make the boxed-in thingies easily removable - for the purpose of easy access to the pipes). One job down, five million more to do. x
     
  14. Chud

    Chud

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    Silicone (High Modulus) is actually pretty strong stuff - it's what holds fish tanks together after all!

    Something like Dow Corning 785 would do the job of securing the basin to the pedestal in the short term - just be sure to thoroughly clean both surfaces to be joined.

    That waste pipe sounds like it's just push fitted into the soil stack - it looks like someone used silicone to join it but silicone doesn't stick to plastic very well - it may be sealed with putty/plumbers mait etc. but alternatively it could just be gunge/crap etc. that are making a seal...anyhow I believe it should be a solvent weld (actual plumbers can probably advise), as such you need to disconnect (yuck) clean both surfaces to be joined and use something like polyweld to rejoin.
     
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  15. Mikefromlondon

    Mikefromlondon

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    Your bath sink must have been resting on top of the pedestal, but after your endeavor with it falling over when you had taken the pedestal away, where it was just being held by a thin bead of silicone and also the connecting pipes holding it in to some extent, as well as the drain outlet, so after you lifted the WHB up and tried to refit it to its original position, chances are it wouldn't fit in its original position after pipes and joints have been stressed during collapse, hence why you think that pedestal does not fit properly, it probably was a close fit before the fall.

    So now you can either try and push it down a bit keeping the pedestal underneath it until it re-seats in its original position, and even if there is a small gap, you could fill silicone and let it set, that will hold the weight of the sink, but try to screw the sink to the wall as that would be a proper solution, as it could still be pulled away from the wall, some sinks have fixing holes in awkward place and a normal drill and a screw driver won't reach tight spaces and since you are not most likely geared up properly with various other tools like masonry drill bits and a drill and plastic rawl plugs for screws, and right type of screws with plastic washers, you got do your best sticking that sink to the wall as best you can.

    I know many old people find it hard to get off toilet pans, and they lift themselves by grabbing whatever is closer to them, like wash hand basins for example, and imagine if someone older person with difficulty getting up from the pan tries to anchor themselves up using your bath sink and the consequences of it could be dangerous for both her and your bathroom flooding!
     
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  16. LoriT71

    LoriT71

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    I didn't realise how strong silicone adhesive could be. That's good to know. I've decided to do a bit of upgrading to the pipework behind the basin -and once I've done that, I will re-affix the basin to the wall using silicone. And I'll also use some Plumbers Mait to bed in the basin to the pedestal. The pedestal is definitely the wrong one for this style of sink (the previous owner mentioned that to me in passing, but I didn't think anything of it at the time). But I hope that if I get it into a moderately secure position, and allow the silicone to do its job, then hopefully the basin will last a bit longer before I need to think about upgrading the bathroom properly.

    Guess what?! I took a brave pill and decided to replace the bath shower/mixer tap with a new one (I'd previously purchased the taps in October, but my plumber let me down. And I ended up just doing a workaround repair to get my shower temporarily working until I could get someone in to replace the taps). I had watched so many You Tube videos that I felt moderately confident about success.

    It was a bit of a nightmare getting the old taps and flexible hoses removed - and I ended up having to cut off a section of pipe rather than break my back trying to loosen the seized up joint. In the end it was a really great experience. And it's given me the confidence to do some more upgrading within the rest of the bathroom (including cutting out and replacing the leaky joint that started this whole thread). I'm really grateful to everyone for your advice!

    Here are some photos of my work-in-progress and final result:

    0148edfb47a5c75d93a46864e53272d9d093dc1409.jpg 01cbab78fdab13abf049d00f2f4d429b656d1b5a45.jpg 01a197b4bffd82b1580729a9e85481b2bf515d5b8e.jpg 01dd893d59c865ae1d66051fabe3ea7c43c779c5a3.jpg 01e879da58573e2f5ebf394de41ef33f92fc965aee.jpg
     
  17. Mikefromlondon

    Mikefromlondon

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    I think you are having us on, you are a proper plumber! you were testing us weren't you!(y)

    BTW, I note you have two nuts in that picture No 1
     
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