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Fixing leaking steam pipe return

Shemp
Shemp Member Posts: 45
edited October 2017 in Strictly Steam
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Comments

  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    edited December 2016
    I would cut it off right at that elbow and then with a sawsall or hacksaw, carefully cut the remnants of that pipe out of the elbow, being careful not to damage the threads in the elbow or, Option 2, if you have enough room you could try to break that elbow and replace it and the pipe. Whichever is easiest for you. I hate to mention it but the top pipe on that Tee above the elbow looks like it was threaded crooked into that tee. Probably cross threaded. If that doesn't leak (and it looks like it doesn't) be careful not to do something to add to your problems.
  • Shemp
    Shemp Member Posts: 45
    edited October 2017
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  • MilanD
    MilanD Member Posts: 1,160
    So, if you can access the actual hole, and it's not a longer hairline crack, a combination of a small screw, a plumbers metal patch stick (sorry, don't know proper name for it, it's a 2-part stick you can get at a hardware store, the one you kneed to activate and hardens like steel), a rubber wrap tape (also from hardware store) and a couple of clamps you already have could do it.

    Open up the hole that's leaking, with a small round file, make a round hole. Take a small bolt of the same size as a hole, or slightly larger, one with machine threads, and screw it into the hole. Then take the 2 part stick, kneed the appropriate amount, and make a patch covering the entire bolt head, packing it as tightly as you can around the bolt head and over it. Smooth it as best you can. You are making a patch, like a dome over the bolt head. Then, wrap it all with rubber wrap and clamp it together.

    We had an old timer do this on actual pin-holes on our supply mains with, at that time 1+psi steam pressure, and this would stop the leak for years.

    For 100% repair, what @Fred said above is a sure way to repair, and for good.

    Good luck!
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,021
    Fred, do you think that 90 is CI?..I know he said piping is 110 years old and most things were CI, but it doesn't look quite like it.
    And that Tee does look like it is deformed in the casting because to me the piping looks lined up.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,893
    And furthermore... I would replace the whole length of pipe which had the leak...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    zoom in on the pic. el looks cast to me.
    JUGHNE
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    @JUGHNE , The elbow looks like CI to me. The vertical pipe does look lined up but if you look at the right side of that pipe, I'd be surprised if more than one or two threads are into that Tee. That's what would scare me.
    JUGHNE
  • Shemp
    Shemp Member Posts: 45
    edited October 2017
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  • Looks like cast to me too.
    New England SteamWorks
    Service, Installation, & Restoration of Steam Heating Systems
    newenglandsteamworks.com
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,302
    They way it looks I wouldn't touch it unless I was prepared for things to go bad, look at all the alternatives before starting and have a (or several) back-up plans.

    Is this a wet return below the water line?? If so copper may be an option.

    The elbow looks like CI to me, That tee is really old.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,893
    And furthermore... I would replace the whole length of pipe which had the leak...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Shemp
    Shemp Member Posts: 45
    edited October 2017
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  • Shemp
    Shemp Member Posts: 45
    edited October 2017
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  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,602
    That patch might hold for a few years. If you start saving now, you should be able to have someone else fix it, which is by far the easiest method. :)
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    Shemp said:

    It is a wet return. Not sure what you mean by below the water line. It leads back to the boiler, above the boiler, then drains into it.

    If it is above the boiler water line, it is a Dry return and could have steam in it until it drops at the boiler. That patch won't last long.
  • Shemp
    Shemp Member Posts: 45
    edited October 2017
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  • becky001
    becky001 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, Shemp. Wonder how it worked out for you, what you did ? I have similar situation. Very tight space and leak at the bend.
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
    While your fix may buy you some time, from the looks of the pipe and fittings I think if you get back into that tight spot and start working on it you will be surprised where the other leaks decide to pop up. At 110 years old that pipe doesn't owe you a nickel. I think Jamie is correct.