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Thread: I am not a plumber, but...

  1. #1
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    I am not a plumber, but...

    Okay, I am not a plumber, but I used to be... that same friend I helped with the water heater had their house built in 1973 with copper.


    His wife is one of those health-food nuts etc. At any rate, she wants all the lead removed from the copper pipe. I accidentally made the comment that the water heater I was replacing was so old Lincon was probably president, and that was likely back when they used 50/50 leaded solder.

    Long story is that she is now freaking about it. She had their water tested, and there is trace amounts well under the maximum, yet she is freaking out and wants to know what can be done.

    I suggested perhaps running the water longer before taking a water sample would lower it more or even a filter. Then she started going on about the solder and asked me if I used solder on the water heater. Of course, I said, YES, I used solder, and I informed her there is no lead in the solder I use. I even showed her the roll and that it was made in the USA, so you know it is accurate... I even pointed out that it is NSF, ASTM, and ANSI and pretended to know what all those mean... but that it is absolutely safe for drinking water! I then explained even if there was lead in your water, you are drinking bottled water. She is telling me how she boils pasta in her fresh water and has headaches.

    I was clear I never touched the cold water side, BUT you are draining all the water off anyway, and your bottled water could have just as much lead. I explained the water you cook with does not go through the water heater because you are pulling from the cold tap anyway.


    Then she asked if we could remove all the lead pipes. I told her they are copper pipes and only the fittings have solder in them, and I cannot guarantee her that is even the source of the lead... that many of them may already be lead-free solder. I have no way of knowing. She asked me and her husband if we could remove the lead. I said, I guess we could cut-out all the visible fittings in the crawl space and replace them with brand, new copper fittings and lead-free solder... if she makes lunch and provides the beer... BUT the pipes in the wall are not accessible, and unless she wants her drywall torn up it is impossible to replace them. I was also clear that if you get the water re-tested, do NOT expect the lead to be lower or if it is not much lower.

    Long story short, looks like I get to practice more soft solder. Her husband told me I should never have made the comment about leaded solder being in the old house because his wife is nuts. She had a silver crown and had it replaced because she said the mercury was killing her... that this resulted in the need for a root canal and a new crown... $2000 gone and all time in the dentist chair and endodontist chair when she should have left it well enough alone.


    ***

    Anyway, the house has a kitchen with a faucet (1 hot and 1 cold). Under the sink is where it splits off to the dishwasher. There are two outdoor spigots (2 cold). There is only one bathroom, and it has a sink (1 hot and 1 cold) and a toilet (1 cold), and a shower/tub (1 hot 1 cold).

    It is ALL on one side of the house with 3/4" Copper M tubing and a bunch of 3/4" to 1/2" T's for everything. Many of the pipes going up are type L, some are M.

    I guess he and I work together and we just replace all of the T's cutting out copper instead of unsoldering it. That said, she is hinting at us tearing out drywall.


    If we do the bathroom faucet, we could tear out a piece of drywall in a closet. The kitchen sink just has a hole up through the cabinet floor. It looks like it would be easy enough to cut the shut-offs and just replace those that there are no other fittings. There is obviously some fitting for the bathroom sink; since, there must be a 90 elbow somewhere. Presumably, the toilet is the same and only a few feet away from the bathroom sink if she wants us to open up the drywall that much. It probably does not make the drywall repair that much worse.

    As for the two outdoor faucets, it would be easiest just to replace those. I think I would suggest the freeze-proof ones even though it rarely gets below freezing here, so we could kill two birds with one stone being they are easily accessible under the crawl-space.

    I just don't know how far she is going to push this. The ice maker and fridge should be fine because it is a compression fitting, and it just goes through the floor to some small reducer. I guess that would need to be replaced in the crawl space.

    The only real question would be how far to take this project. I mean, do we tear up the wall in the laundry room to replace the shower valve and show assembly, too?


    He needs to keep his wife happy. What are your thoughts? They have ALWAYS been there for me for 20 years, and I consider them like family. She is a nutcase but also a sweetheart. I get the invite to Thanksgiving etc. This project will basically be if he buys the fittings and cuts the drywall I will make it happen with his help.

    Thoughts?

    I am thinking if we do get into the tub/shower, we should upgrade it to a newer style valve like one of those Delta units that you just turn one handle instead of the two handles they currently have. It just seems a mixing valve type might be best.


    Is this an all in our don't touch it with a 10 foot pole project?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by NETWizz View Post
    Okay, I am not a plumber, but I used to be... that same friend I helped with the water heater had their house built in 1973 with copper.


    His wife is one of those health-food nuts etc. At any rate, she wants all the lead removed from the copper pipe. I accidentally made the comment that the water heater I was replacing was so old Lincon was probably president, and that was likely back when they used 50/50 leaded solder.

    Long story is that she is now freaking about it. She had their water tested, and there is trace amounts well under the maximum, yet she is freaking out and wants to know what can be done.

    I suggested perhaps running the water longer before taking a water sample would lower it more or even a filter. Then she started going on about the solder and asked me if I used solder on the water heater. Of course, I said, YES, I used solder, and I informed her there is no lead in the solder I use. I even showed her the roll and that it was made in the USA, so you know it is accurate... I even pointed out that it is NSF, ASTM, and ANSI and pretended to know what all those mean... but that it is absolutely safe for drinking water! I then explained even if there was lead in your water, you are drinking bottled water. She is telling me how she boils pasta in her fresh water and has headaches.

    I was clear I never touched the cold water side, BUT you are draining all the water off anyway, and your bottled water could have just as much lead. I explained the water you cook with does not go through the water heater because you are pulling from the cold tap anyway.


    Then she asked if we could remove all the lead pipes. I told her they are copper pipes and only the fittings have solder in them, and I cannot guarantee her that is even the source of the lead... that many of them may already be lead-free solder. I have no way of knowing. She asked me and her husband if we could remove the lead. I said, I guess we could cut-out all the visible fittings in the crawl space and replace them with brand, new copper fittings and lead-free solder... if she makes lunch and provides the beer... BUT the pipes in the wall are not accessible, and unless she wants her drywall torn up it is impossible to replace them. I was also clear that if you get the water re-tested, do NOT expect the lead to be lower or if it is not much lower.

    Long story short, looks like I get to practice more soft solder. Her husband told me I should never have made the comment about leaded solder being in the old house because his wife is nuts. She had a silver crown and had it replaced because she said the mercury was killing her... that this resulted in the need for a root canal and a new crown... $2000 gone and all time in the dentist chair and endodontist chair when she should have left it well enough alone.


    ***

    Anyway, the house has a kitchen with a faucet (1 hot and 1 cold). Under the sink is where it splits off to the dishwasher. There are two outdoor spigots (2 cold). There is only one bathroom, and it has a sink (1 hot and 1 cold) and a toilet (1 cold), and a shower/tub (1 hot 1 cold).

    It is ALL on one side of the house with 3/4" Copper M tubing and a bunch of 3/4" to 1/2" T's for everything. Many of the pipes going up are type L, some are M.

    I guess he and I work together and we just replace all of the T's cutting out copper instead of unsoldering it. That said, she is hinting at us tearing out drywall.


    If we do the bathroom faucet, we could tear out a piece of drywall in a closet. The kitchen sink just has a hole up through the cabinet floor. It looks like it would be easy enough to cut the shut-offs and just replace those that there are no other fittings. There is obviously some fitting for the bathroom sink; since, there must be a 90 elbow somewhere. Presumably, the toilet is the same and only a few feet away from the bathroom sink if she wants us to open up the drywall that much. It probably does not make the drywall repair that much worse.

    As for the two outdoor faucets, it would be easiest just to replace those. I think I would suggest the freeze-proof ones even though it rarely gets below freezing here, so we could kill two birds with one stone being they are easily accessible under the crawl-space.

    I just don't know how far she is going to push this. The ice maker and fridge should be fine because it is a compression fitting, and it just goes through the floor to some small reducer. I guess that would need to be replaced in the crawl space.

    The only real question would be how far to take this project. I mean, do we tear up the wall in the laundry room to replace the shower valve and show assembly, too?


    He needs to keep his wife happy. What are your thoughts? They have ALWAYS been there for me for 20 years, and I consider them like family. She is a nutcase but also a sweetheart. I get the invite to Thanksgiving etc. This project will basically be if he buys the fittings and cuts the drywall I will make it happen with his help.

    Thoughts?

    I am thinking if we do get into the tub/shower, we should upgrade it to a newer style valve like one of those Delta units that you just turn one handle instead of the two handles they currently have. It just seems a mixing valve type might be best.


    Is this an all in our don't touch it with a 10 foot pole project?
    I wouldn't touch it. I'd say that I know no leaded solder was used and run away....
    If you succumb to the allure of free beer and lunch I would consider using press fittings if possible. I'd definitely get rid of any type M copper being used. M is only for heating usage, L is for water piping. You could also redo everything in PEX but it most likely will look like a mess compared to copper plumbing. Most professional plumbers can't install PEX without it looking very sloppy.
    I'd also explain to her that you have no control over what was used on the public water supply if she is connected to one and you can't control the quality of well water either.
    Maybe recommend a good therapist for her.

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  4. #3
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    If they have municipal water; tell them to get the past 3 reports detailing content of water supply. That should get her going in a different path.
    It`s better to be silent and thought the fool; than speak and remove all doubt.

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  6. #4
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    They should have had water samples taken a multiple places in the house. Kitchen faucet, bathroom faucets and outside hose faucet. Any place you would possibly drink the water from and then the closest point of entry into the house.
    With these sample points it can be determined where the lead is coming from.
    We have been told that some sources of lead comes from brass and the faucets. On all of the sampling that has shown lead levels, replacing the faucet has resolved the issue.

    Sent from my VS501 using Tapatalk

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  8. #5
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    Ask her if she knows about the "trace amount of plastics" that's in bottled water?

    I was going to say pretty much the same thing that chander said. The brass parts inside of faucets, shutoff valves, and even the water meter could also contain lead. So I guess that means getting the city out to shut off the water (with their valves that you probably can't do anything about) and getting them to give her a new water meter, and then you can replace the shut-off valves after the meter while the water's off.

    I'm sure you know this, but new brass stuff is supposed to be lead free and stamped with "LF" somewhere on it.
    If at First You Don't Succeed, Skydiving Is Not for You.

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  10. #6
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    You have to specifically ask for lead free valves.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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  12. #7
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    Maybe you could get some of those surface lead test swabs and test the visible joints so that if the solder is not lead you won't have to mess with it. Like mentioned above if the lead source is in the building it is likely from the brass.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

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  14. #8
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    First thing to do is take a sample from where the water enters the home, then a second sample from the kitchen faucet. Obviously, if the test results are the same, source is not the home.

    If she wants a re-pipe, then I'd have her get quotes from a licensed plumber.
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

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  16. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by NETWizz View Post
    ... Is this an all in our don't touch it with a 10 foot pole project?
    Yes it is !!!!!
    I am a plumber and my advice is to hire (That's right, pay a Pro) someone to do a full re-pipe with Pex.

    If you and your friend do it and the water analysis comes back with lead in it you both own it.

    If the "Pro" (as in Licensed Plumbing contractor, get 3 estimates (you know the drill)) does it and it turns out bad it's all on them.

    This is exactly why I did NOT replace my own Furnace and A/C.
    If sense were so common everyone would have it !
    You cannot protect the Stupid from themselves !
    "Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake Before you make it again!" (Stolen Quote)

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  18. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cagey57 View Post
    If you and your friend do it and the water analysis comes back with lead in it you both own it.
    .
    His friend literally owns it.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

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  20. #11
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    They should have tested the incoming water from the city. There's plenty of lead in many city water supply lines. If you're going to repipe anyway use propress.

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  22. #12
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    I am not a plumber, but...

    If it were a basement, no problem. Crawlspace, doable, but 10 times more difficult.

    But - I would not take ownership of it for sure.

    Even though I hate pex cause its difficult to make presentable, it would likely be easier, and safer, as its a flame free process.

    You can get a manual crimping tool at Menards for about 60 bucks. Just prethink the connections, cause the tool needs some space to crimp. So may need to crimp some pieces, then put into place. They also sell 10 ft sticks and thats how I would go about it. Treat it the same as copper in that way, and it could be piped neatly.

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  23. #13
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    Back in the day the city used lead pipe from the mater main to the curb stop......

    Still thousands of lead lines on the city side...


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  25. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cagey57 View Post
    Yes it is !!!!!
    I am a plumber and my advice is to hire (That's right, pay a Pro) someone to do a full re-pipe with Pex.

    If you and your friend do it and the water analysis comes back with lead in it you both own it.

    If the "Pro" (as in Licensed Plumbing contractor, get 3 estimates (you know the drill)) does it and it turns out bad it's all on them.

    This is exactly why I did NOT replace my own Furnace and A/C.
    Are you only a plumber? Or HVAC also?

    I would never in a million years so long as Im able hire someone to do hvac work in my own home.


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  27. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbhenergy View Post
    Back in the day the city used lead pipe from the mater main to the curb stop......

    Still thousands of lead lines on the city side...


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Yep and they have water quality standards to maintain to make sure that the water won't leach too much lead out of the pipes.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

  28. #16
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    The only thing left to say is if the guy is a friend I would make recommendations then do what ever he ask.
    No man can be both ignorant and free.
    Thomas Jefferson

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  30. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatingman View Post
    Are you only a plumber? No Or HVAC also? Yes, but I have almost no Resi Install experience. .

    I would never in a million years so long as Im able hire someone to do hvac work in my own home. Same here Except for the Furnace Change out. I will do everything (and I mean everything) else.

    I do agree with the Pro-Press suggestion though for the re-pipe.
    It sounds like the Husband is in a No win situation. My suggestion is to let someone else be the "Loser" in this case.
    If sense were so common everyone would have it !
    You cannot protect the Stupid from themselves !
    "Experience is the ability to recognize a mistake Before you make it again!" (Stolen Quote)

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  32. #18
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    It's amazing how much physical effect and symptoms thinking something is bad can have. The placebo effect is insane. I read of an experiment they did years ago where all the tests showed that a patient clearly needed heart surgery so they cut a slit in his chest sewed it back up and he was 100% cured.
    Maybe you need to come up with a real good placebo.

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  34. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatingman View Post
    You have to specifically ask for lead free valves.


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    I believe anything sold after a certain date has to be lead free.

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  35. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chander View Post
    I believe anything sold after a certain date has to be lead free.

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    I think that's only if it's sold as a water valve. I've seen gas valves on water and who knows if they were actually water safe.

    Sent from the Okie state usin Tapatalk

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