In my previous post, I explained how to solder copper water lines. Now, here’s a chance to use this skill:
It’s been very cold here in Richmond, so many people have been having problems with water lines freezing and bursting. If you turn on the faucet, and no water comes out, you could have a frozen pipe.
Turn off your water main! You do know where that is don’t you? Chances are, the water line(s) are frozen, and if they broke, when they thaw out, you don’t want water spraying everywhere causing damage!
Turn off your water heater! Now this sounds counter-intuitive, because the water heater makes warm water, but if you have a burst pipe, the water within your water heater could drain out, causing the heating element to be exposed, and the water heater could be damaged.
Open a faucet. Water expands and contracts when it gets hot and cold….this is the reason why pipes burst to start off with. If you open a faucet, you give space for the water to go when you start heating up the pipes.
now, thaw the pipes! but do not use a torch the best appliance to use to thaw the pipes with is a heat gun or a hair dryer, like pictured here:
Inspect the pipes Give your plumbing a good once over while thawing the pipes. Once you are confident the plumbing is okay, then open your water main, and you should hear the water running out the faucet inside the house, but you should not hear it running out anywhere else. Go ahead and close the faucet, and you are ready to go.
If you found a burst pipe, here’s how to repair it: For this demonstration, I didn’t have an actual damaged pipe to show, so I simply marked on a piece of copper pipe with a sharpie a spot that would indicate a burst part of a pipe.
cut out the damaged section of the pipe: I drew two lines on the pipe with a sharpie showing were I am going to cut the pipe. Use a copper pipe cutter I was speaking of in the previous post on soldering copper pipe to cut out the damage as shown below:
Measure and cut a piece of replacement copper pipe the same size as the piece you removed:
Next, slide two “sleeves” onto the existing piece of copper pipe:
insert the piece you cut into the middle, and slide the sleeves back over the pipes to bridge the two together. Here’s a picture of them “test fit” together:
Last, solder everything together using the methods I explained in the previous section on Soldering copper pipe
Now, go turn the water back on, relieved that your house didn’t get flooded !
This same method can be used for replacing a bad valve, or other plumbing fixture as well 🙂