How to solder pipes with water running?

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I have to solder 1/2-inch copper to the shower mixer/manifold. The street shut-off valve won't turn off the water completely, so there is always some small amount of water filling the pipes (they are oriented vertically).
How do I overcome this situation of water in the pipes where I need to solder? Surely one can't boil the water in the pipes with a little propane torch...
I thought about turning on some water valve in the house that is lower, but even the bib in the garden is taller than these pipes.
I've heard if you've got standing water in the pipes that you can wick it out with rope, or such, so you can solder, but I haven't heard any such trick for running water.
What's the trick?
--
DaveC
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So what are you going to do when a real leak occurs , fix the main, its the citys $ not your and put in a whole house shutoff. Sure maybe an oxy acetylene torch may get it hot maybe not. And put in some dam individual shut offs in that hack house. gees
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On Tue, 29 Jun 2004 10:27:21 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

I did plumbing for many years. I once got an emergency call, saying the basement was flooding. I went to the job as fast as I could. When I got there, the basement was filled with 2 1/2 feet of water. I put on my boots and waded thru it, to shut off the street main. I shut off the valve, but the water kept gushing out of a broken pipe. The valve was useless.
I made several attempts to slip a piece of hose over the broken pipe, since I always carried hose to fit 1/2" and 3/4" pipes. The other end of the hose had a pipe nipple and valve attached with a hose clamp. I hoped to clamp the hose to the pipe, but the pressure was so great that I could not get the hose on the pipe. I always carried a sidewalk or curb shutoff tool, but when I went outside, I could not find anything even resembling the shutoff marker cap.
I finally called the city water dept. It took them over an hour to arrive, and when they got there, they used a metal detector to find the valve, only to discover that the thing was buried under the lawn, and filled with dirt. It took several more hours to get a special truck there to blow out the valve (with highly compressed air). By the time they got the water shut off, the basement was nearly completely filled with water, and everything down there was ruined.
I later explained to the owners that their main valve was bad. They told me that several plumbers in the past had told them to replace it. I also told them their basement floor drain was plugged. They told me that they knew it was. Well, they paid the price for not fixing things properly, when it was needed. Not only did they have to pay me many more dollars than they would if I had been able to shut off the water, but had to pay me to pump out the basement, lost all the stuff they had stored in the basement, including washer, dryer, furnace, and water heater. They had to pay an electrician to inspect and repair the electrical panel (Yes, I pulled the electric meter, and shut off the natural gas while the basement was flooding). Had to pay me to replace the water heater and furnace, and had to pay to have the basement walls inspected for structural damage, and more.... I can imagine what their water bill was that month too, and I am not sure if the water dept. charged them for an emergency call. All this because of a defective $5 valve.
REPLACE THAT VALVE NOW !!!
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On Sat, 10 Jul 2004 01:51:36 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@private.com wrote:

Nice story.
How long did it take you to make it up?
You need to do more research before you fabricate things like this...or at least get a little more experience first.
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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Trent wrote:

What makes you so sure that it is made up. I accompanied my father on a nearly identical service call when I was a lad in Dedham, Massachusetts low these many years ago. What was different about that service call was that though the curb valve was working just fine it took hours to find it beneath two feet of snow in the dark. -- Tom H
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wrote:

Before I answer your question, I'd be interested in your input.
But reread the OP post first. Do you think he's a plumber?...or do you think that he's a handyman?
Consider...
One post by him. He arrives at a basement with 2 1/2 feet of water. He comes with a jig that he's obviously used successfully before. Consider the total scope of all he finally did at that location.
Maybe the OP will jump back in in the meantime!
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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Trent wrote:

a plumbing and heating contractor. And the jig he had used before works well on low pressure lines of say thirty pounds or less. -- Tom H
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wrote:

That's not the impression I got. Sounds like a handyman...or a REALLY talented and over-licensed contractor.

In my area, those are 2 licenses. A licensed plumber can't do HVAC work.

If its an open hose, why would the operating pressure make that much of a difference. After all, you said that you were able to make those kinda repairs. Why couldn't he?...do ya think.
Here's my take on it...

He never says that he's a plumber.

This is the first thing that got me thinking. You said that you work as a volunteer fire fighter. Why do you get calls for plumbing emergencies? Exactly...its an emergency. That's not to say that someone wouldn't go thru the yellow pages...and try to find a plumber. But many times, folks will call people like yourself...or even the police.

Let's say it took him an hour to get there...2 hours tops. I'm gonna go with the 1 hour premise.

2 1/2 ft. = 1 hour...and the clock is still ticking.

Not many plumbers carry waders...but it could happen. Regular boots at 2 1/2 ft. of water...and rising...would almost be useless...so why put them on?

In his back pocket? Its possible he carried that jig inside...as part of his carry-on bucket. But, more than likely, it required another trip to the truck. Now, remember...that basement is filling up at the rate of 2 1/2 ft./hour.
And all his stuff is sitting in the basement...3 ft. above water...or under the water. Maybe on a high step...entirely possible.
Now I wonder...when did he pull the electrical meter?...and shut off the gas?
And how high was the shutoff (and meter?) from the basement floor. Most that I've seen are right about 2-3 ft. above the floor.

Why? I wouldn't be easy, of course. But there shouldn't be that much resistance...using an open valve...where it couldn't be done.

Why even MENTION this? ALL plumbers do!

95% of all caps are below grade. He made this sound like it was unusual.

Where was his metal detector? He's a plumber without a metal detector? If so, why didn't he just use his rod to poke around a little bit? Not always the easiest thing...but many times will find the cap.

2 1/2 ft. of water/hour x 2 should be about 5 ft. of water in the basement right now. Actually...with him screwin' around...it should be about 3 hours total before the water department got there...that's about 7 1/2 ft. of water in the basement! lol

Yup.
Most folks who cut their grass have the cap below grade...or its flung out into the neighbors yard during the first cut! :) Why would he expect it to NOT be buried under the lawn.

First of all, you don't blow out the VALVE! You blow out the sleeve. And I've never seen anybody 'blow out' a sleeve! The sleeve isn't that big in diameter. When yer doin' the blowin', where's that blown dirt gonna go? It can only go up...and would be very dangerous.
And, in my area, the dirt isn't gonna be like sand. Its gonna be packed dirt. You couldn't blow that out here is ya wanted to.
The procedure here is to use a small clam spiral shovel...like a fence post digger...to try to get the dirt out. Most times, ya simply bring in a backhoe...and dig it up.

NEARLY?!! We're now at about 5-6 hours...at about 2 1/2 ft. per hour. He should now have about 15 ft. of water in the basement! lol BIG basement!!!

Why had several plumbers been out to the house? And how did they know it was bad? And if it WAS bad...for THEM...how did THEY do their plumbing work?

How did he know there WAS a drain? Remember, the basement is now under 2 1/2 to 15 ft. of water!

We're talkin' about clean water here...not sewage. It would be unusual to need to completely scrap all these appliances.
Washer could be plugged in after drying it out thoroughly. At the most, a new motor might be necessary...but unlikely.
Dryer?...same procedure.
Furnace?...just let it dry. Maybe a new motor...and a good cleaning.
Water heater? Electric? If gas, simply take out the burner and clean it...which would be the extreme. Just letting it dry out would probably be all that was needed.
When you worked with your dad, did you guys ever pull an electric meter? Maybe.

Water heater?...need a new burner at the MOST.
Furnace? Border line. Complete replacement? All the above could have been dried off and probably worked fine.

Structural damage? lol Folks must have lived in a sugar shack!

Why would the water department charge them to repair their own equipment? And when did that sleeve get filled with dirt?...if he couldn't even find the cap for it?

If the story IS true, their biggest problem was NOT the $5 defective valve!! lol
Anyway...my take on it.
Movin' on...
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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snipped-for-privacy@private.com wrote:

Bullshit. If the valve on the end of the short hose was open, the water pressure would not prevent you from getting the hose on the pipe (unless you just didn't want to get it on the pipe.) Actually, if you could get to a threaded end of the pipe you could easily screw an open gate valve on and then close the valve.
What was this, a 3/4" pipe? how many gallons per minute do you think a 3/4" pipe is capable of delivering? How many cubic feet is a basement? Let's be generous and say it can deliver 15 gallons per minute, which is about 2 cubic feet. If the basement was 20x30x8 feet, it would take about 40 hours to fill it at that rate, not 5 or 6 hours.
It's a good story, but it doesn't hold water. ;-)
Best regards, Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

How many times have you accomplished the task you say is so easy. I have e worked on flowing lines that were 1/2 to 1" in size that were dammed hard to get a valve onto. I watched and helped my dad with that task a number of times. There are communities were the service pressure to the house regulator exceeds 100 PSIG. In the days before quarter turn ball valves it could be kind of tough to get a rising plate gate valve onto a flowing line. My Dad would cut the ruptured pipe with a pipe cutter, rethread the cut end, and thread a bell reducer onto the new threads. The over sized gate valve was then attached by using a union because there usually was not room to turn the valve. We would both get soaked on the worst ones. Right here in Silver Spring, Maryland I have been on flooded basement calls as a volunteer fire fighter were a foot of water would accumulate before we could get the service lateral shut off. -- Tom H
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HorneTD wrote:

I didn't say it was easy, and I've never done it. But I think I could get a full-flow gate valve on a flowing pipe in an emergency. Hopefully, I'll never have to find out. I think there's a grain of truth to "unlisted's" story, but he got caught up in the story and embellished it way too much. Like the part about the basement completely filling up in the few hours that the story transpired.
Replacing the valve is still a good idea, even if the story was completely made up.
Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Just for grins you might want to try it. Buy a garden house to pipe thread adapter and a plastic gate valve and threaded adapter. The whole set will cost about ten to fifteen dollars. Adapt a garden house spigot to pipe thread, Open the spigot up until it is at maximum flow, try and attach your valve assembly to the flowing line. If the pressure is over fifty pounds your in for a struggle.
Maybe someone will do the math for us. How much flow would a relatively clean three quarter inch lateral flow through forty feet of pipe if the main that supplies it is at 100 PSIG which is quite normal here. -- Tom H
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DaveC wrote:

You can't solder pipes with water in them, even with an acetylene torch. You can buy gelatin capsules (I think that's what they are) to plug up dripping pipes so you can solder them, then the capsule dissolves. I've done the same thing with bread before. *Maybe* if you open the bib in the garden and even a few other faucets to keep the pressure from building up, you can plug up the pipe good enough with one of those dissolving plugs to solder it. It's worth a try. You also might look for a flare or compression coupling that will work and avoid soldering all together.
Or hire a plumber to replace the leaking street valve.
Best regards, Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Although they get frowned upon, the compression fittings may be a good choice in this situation.
Another possibility, depending on the service configuration, is to loosen the union fitting at the water meter enough to keep pressure relieved.
Jim
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i wonder if siphoning from the hose bib might also help? the can/reservoir at the ohter end of the siphon would have to be elevated at certain height.
*Maybe* if you open the bib

be sure you can buy a replacement union washer. (rubber)
why doen'st teh water utilty fix theri meter/shutoffs?

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You do not have another valve at your house for a water shut off? I have never seen a home with out the street valve and one at the home for control of the water system. If you do not have one cut one in when the street valve is replaced.
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wrote:

Another person asked what would happen if you had a real leak. The house could be flooded before the city or a plumber get to shut off the street valve.
It seems that the priority here is to arrange for the city to fix the street valve first and do it before winter. While they are doing that you should get a inside house shut off valve installed. That will solve a lot of your problems.
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I've heard of freezing the pipe with dry ice. Never tried it. I know they sell "pipe freezers" for just this type of thing. Never tried one of those, either.
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Christopher A. Young
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I'm not sure, but I may have actually saved a workman's life once while he was attempting this.
He was working alone, preparing to replace a main sprinkler system shutoff valve. The pipe was maybe 4" diameter. He had some sort of compressed CO2 tank that he was attempting to freeze the pipe with. This sounded pretty iffy to me but I figured he knew what he was doing.
A bit later I happened to go down to the basement to get something. As I opened the door at the bottom of the stairs I felt like I couldn't breathe. I called out to the workman, who was about twenty feet away and around a corner. I got a very weak response.
I ran in and saw that he looked pretty woozy. I took his arm and led him outside the building where he sat for a good long while.
The next week he had a crew dig up the street to close the city valve rather than try the freezing technique again.
Greg Guarino
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Greg wrote:

I've never heard of using compressed CO2 to freeze a pipe that big. There are electric pipe freezers that have a little refrigeration unit in them for freezing pipes. That's what the plumber used when he replaced the main shutoff valve at my water meter. (The street valve was buried and the ground was frozen.)
Dry ice should work OK if you make a little wooden or styrofoam box to insulate it, but I'd still call a plumber for a job like this -- there's too much to go wrong if the ice plug breaks loose while you have the pipe open and you can't get to a shutoff.
Bob
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