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#51455 - 11/01/03 11:45 PM Broken pipe behind tub spout
Anonymous
Unregistered


Today, a new handyman (with a lot of plumbing experience) was putting in a new tub spout for me in a fiberglass tub surround, and the hard pipe on which the original spout was threaded broke off behind the surround. He told me that the hard galvanized pipe had been soldered to copper pipe behind the wall and must not have been installed correctly. The tub has a separate shower diverter (not in the tub spout) that looks just like the two hot and cold handles. (He'd already replaced the valve stems and handles, which seem fine). Now, the whole tub/shower is unusable.
I have a few questions. Is this something that occasionally happens to even experienced plumbers or did he not know what he was doing exactly? And I'd like some input on what he suggested doing to fix the problem: Since there's another shower on the back side of this tub's wall (also fiberglass, and I just had it refinished), he suggested cutting a whole in the wall next to the tub, and going behind the wall to put in a new pipe that would go from the tub spout to the diverter knob.
Does this sound right? It seems like any other option would involve cutting a hole in the fiberglass or replacing the whole tub surround. The "hole in wall" solution sounded reasonable to me (but will wind up involving a lot of labor and thus expense). In any case, he can't come back to do the work for two weeks, so I have time to gather advice. He's supposed to be experienced and reliable, according to the friend who referred me to him. Any advice on how we got into this dilemma and how we should get out of it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for any replies.

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#51456 - 11/02/03 05:48 AM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
Just_Bill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/27/02
Posts: 20068
Loc: Wilmington, Delaware
Yes, "stuff" happens, even to the pros. But I don't think you can solder copper to galvanized, it may however corrode to the point of being one piece of pipe. And it is often hard to tell what a previous owner has done. I assume he has in "inside" pipe wrench and some penetrating oil, and possibly some heat. All or some of these things may loosen the connection.
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#51457 - 11/02/03 11:18 AM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
Anonymous
Unregistered


Just Bill is right. Stuff happens all the time and it could be that your tub spout was just waiting for someone to come and break it loose.

It may be possible to repair it without creating huge access holes but it's not easy and requires some specialized tools and holding your tongue just right.

If the old spout is still there for you to inspect then see if it has a pipe sticking out the back of it a few inches or so. Check this and let us know what you find.

Btw, you cannot solder copper to galvanized metal.


Edited by Plumbear (11/02/03 11:21 AM)

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#51458 - 11/02/03 11:48 AM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
Dennis_H_N.J. Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/12/02
Posts: 25625
Loc: Toms River, N.J.
"Holding your tongue just right!" Bear, I can tell you've been around the block a few times! I loved it!
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<<< Next time....... Think before you vote!>>>


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#51459 - 11/02/03 02:20 PM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks for the replies, folks. The old tub spout apparently just screwed on the galvanized pipe (1/2") coming out of the wall--which looks like the way the new one will fit on. What I have now is a 5-6 " galvanized pipe coming out of the hole in the fiberglass tub surround that isn't connected to anything anymore and just moves up and down and side to side. So what my handyman proposed was a way to re-connect it to the piping that goes to the diverter. I suppose you're all correct that "stuff happens." My handyman did suggest that the galvanized-to-copper connection would have broken some day. I just regretted having suggested he replace the tub spout in the first place (while he was replacing the shower handles, which were getting spongy and were also corroded), since it was somewhat corroded, too. I can't remember how he said he'd connect the new pipe to the old--he did say he couldn't solder it behind the wall (which I suppose would set the house on fire!). He said something about nipples or elbows or? Clearly, I'm not a plumbing expert, so I appreciate any more advice you folks can provide. Thanks. Marilyn

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#51460 - 11/02/03 05:56 PM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
Anonymous
Unregistered


Oh. That really sucks then.
It may be time to retire those old faucets and install a new tub and shower valve since the labour will be almost as much as making access and re-attaching the tub spout drop. Any repair made to the existing should only be considered temporary as it'll come back to haunt you again.

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#51461 - 11/04/03 06:27 PM Re: Broken pipe behind fiberglass surround
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thanks, Plumbear and others. I'm a little confused now, though. What I have is a broken pipe that the tub spout (which does not have a diverter in it) was attached to--behind the fiberglass shower surround. It seems like that pipe attaches attaches behind the wall to the pipe that leads to the shower diverter (a separate handle). So, just to clarify, my question is--how can my handyman repair that broken pipe? He can't go in from the wall behind, since what's behind this tub surround is another fiberglass shower surround (just refinished). So the choices are 1) cut a rectangular hole in the fiberglass from the tub spout to the diverter handle or 2) cut a hole in the wall next to the tub surround to get to the pipes. Which would be better? My other remaining questions are: How hard would it be to fix a hole in the fiberglass? If it's easier to cut a hole in the wall than in the fiberglass, will he definitely be able to connect the pipes while working from a foot or two off to the side? How should he connect what appears to be a galvanized pipe to the spout with a copper pipe to the shower diverter handle? Thanks in advance for any further replies.

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#51462 - 11/04/03 06:34 PM Re: Broken pipe behind fiberglass surround
dora Offline
Search and Rescue
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 21240
Loc: Somewhere under the sun
You don't have to many choices, but the best one would be to go in at the wall. It would be possible to patch the fiberglass, but you would see the repair, the wall would be alot easier to patch, but harder to work from, but I'd try the wall first. That's my 2 cents.
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Life is about using the whole box of crayons!

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#51463 - 11/05/03 12:02 PM Re: Broken pipe behind tub spout
grizzly Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/19/02
Posts: 6769
Loc: penna.
i would also go in to the wall. the advantage is perfect for inspections down the road if you develop a leak. also you,or your plumber,would have access for installing valves if needed to isolate this fixture. also there is nothing better than having room to work!!
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It is better to remain silent, and have people think you a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.





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#51464 - 11/05/03 05:48 PM Re: Broken pipe behind fiberglass surround
kodak_jack Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/24/03
Posts: 4517
Loc: Rochester,NY
You posted this same question twice (?), so, my first response was on the other posting. Your questions are very good. A tub is 36" wide and the surround may even be wider than that. Divide that in half, because the diverter is in the middle, and you have 18"+. Somewhere between the cut out he would make in the wall and the diverter has to be a stud. With a stud in the way, how is he going to get at the broken fitting? The hole that the 1/2" nipple is coming out of in the surround is probably no more than 3/4". If that was enlarged to a little less than the spout outside diameter, maybe he could get a new fitting in. This is one of those situations where a picture/ photo (on Kodak film) would be worth a thousand guesses.

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