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Cast iron baseboard; leaking solder joint

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oldcastiron
oldcastiron Member Posts: 16
edited September 2023 in THE MAIN WALL
(Please excuse me if I'm posting in the wrong category; radiant heating or oil heating could both apply here...)

The cast iron baseboard from the basement of my 1959 home has a leak from a bad sweat joint. I drained the system and cut the pipe. The leak is to the right of the cut, at the solder joint for the copper-to-NPT adapter fitting.

I'm having a difficult time getting the adapter off of the cast iron baseboard using an adjustable wrench. I've ordered a 1-1/16" open end wrench (my largest wrench is 1" which is just a touch too small) to see if that does the trick, but I'm wondering if this is a good idea? Is there a risk of permanently damaging the female end of the connection (and causing me to have to replace the cast iron baseboard)? If there is a considerable risk, should I instead leave the NPT connection alone and just try to desolder the copper tube (and replace with a new tube)? Or is my original plan of replacing the entire stretch of copper pipes, adapter, and the two elbow fittings the way to go here?




I'm thinking the adapter is this part, but I'm not sure. https://www.ferguson.com/product/34-in-copper-male-adapter-cmaf/_/R-34748.

Thank you!
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Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,613
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    No. What you're doing is correct you just need a little more leverage.

    A small pipe wrench might do it with a cheater pipe on the handle. It would save you buying a new wrench.

    It's usually better to sweat the new adapter to a piece of tubing and then screw the adapter in.

    If you try to sweat in place the baseboard will "soak up" a lot of the heat and it will take too long to heat the fitting probably burn the pipe dope and damage the wall
    Mad Dog_2oldcastironMikeAmann
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
    edited September 2023
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    WD-40 could help and then a good, sharp-toothed (new) Ridgid 12" Pipe Wrench with a 2 foot long Fulcrum bar, Hickey, Cheater bar, you-gonna-come-out pipe..Obama (Yes we can!) wrench.. aka 1" X 24" Black Steel pipe (if that will slip over the Wrench handle..if not 1 1/4").  Copper is pretty soft so your Cresent wrench will keep slipping and rounding out the Square bossings on the fitting.  Mad Dog 🐕 
    oldcastiron
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,325
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    @oldcastiron, I've moved your post to The Main Wall. Thanks!

    President
    HeatingHelp.com

  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 494
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         I suggest heating the male adapter with a torch and let it cool with the aid of an ice cube or two. Use a piece of sheet metal, or cut open a coffee can as a heat shield for the wall & floor near the fitting. Have a water filled spray bottle nearby just in case.
     
          Find or make a tight fitting dowel to insert into the fitting about half way. Attach a small pipe wrench & leverage pipe as suggested by others....
    oldcastiron
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    Sticking a rod pipe inside it so it doesn't collapse is a good idea, If it does shear off the surgery method won't be hard if it comes to that since it is copper in iron. We can talk you through that if it does break off.
    oldcastiron
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,613
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    Looks like a cast brass adapter not a wrought copper adapter. It will not crush. it will come out.
  • oldcastiron
    oldcastiron Member Posts: 16
    edited September 2023
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    Thank you all for the ideas!

    Looks like a cast brass adapter not a wrought copper adapter. It will not crush. it will come out.

    Would you replace it with a copper or brass adapter? Does it matter which one in this case?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,056
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    Thank you all for the ideas!


    Looks like a cast brass adapter not a wrought copper adapter. It will not crush. it will come out.

    Would you replace it with a copper or brass adapter? Does it matter which one in this case?
    You can use either. You can even re-use the one you take out if you can get it apart and clean it up.

    Getting it connected to that pipe that goes into the wall isn't going to be fun. You might want to look into renting a ProPress tool and a copper press by male adaptor https://www.supplyhouse.com/JW-50016-3-4-Press-x-Male-Copper-Adapter?_br_psugg_q=3/4+press+x+male and perhaps a press elbow if you can un-sweat the solder elbow on the pipe going into the wall.

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,765
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    bronze male spud x sweat union is what I would probably use. Then if leak or need to pull radiator to fit it in makes it easier.
    MikeAmann
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,765
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    Or press as others said.
  • oldcastiron
    oldcastiron Member Posts: 16
    edited September 2023
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    I just realized that the copper pipe is 5/8" nominal since it is 3/4" OD. Or it is 3/4" ACR? Going to have to look for some fittings since 5/8 C x 3/4 female isn't common. Or clean the existing one as said earlier.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,056
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    When plumbers talk about 3/4" copper by male adaptor and 3/4" copper pipe, they are usually referring to 7/8" OD copper tubing. ACR work is more exacting when it comes to copper tube sizing. What you have in your photo is actually 4/3" ID copper tubing nominally. It actually measures 7/8" OD. depending on where you purchase your fittings, you may want to specify the OD and ID when looking at the fittings. I remember purchasing 7/8“ fittings from United Refrigeration and across the street 3/4” Fittings from FW WEBB. Same part, just different vendor

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Forget reusing the old one.  You do that when it's 1am and you have to restore heat.  Solder, Press..whatever u wish, but new please...Mad Dog 🐕 
    oldcastiron
  • oldcastiron
    oldcastiron Member Posts: 16
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    When plumbers talk about 3/4" copper by male adaptor and 3/4" copper pipe, they are usually referring to 7/8" OD copper tubing. ACR work is more exacting when it comes to copper tube sizing. What you have in your photo is actually 4/3" ID copper tubing nominally. It actually measures 7/8" OD. depending on where you purchase your fittings, you may want to specify the OD and ID when looking at the fittings. I remember purchasing 7/8“ fittings from United Refrigeration and across the street 3/4” Fittings from FW WEBB. Same part, just different vendor

    You're right. I measured it again and it is in fact 3/4" nominal, 7/8" OD.
  • oldcastiron
    oldcastiron Member Posts: 16
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    I got my 1-1/16" combination wrench today and the box end did the trick wonderfully. Loosened like butter with no effort. Now I just need to find the time to do some soldering. I'm going to use the $7 wrought copper adapter since that's what I have and the out-of-stock brass alternative would be $21. Unless there is a major reason not to use it. I'll be out of town this weekend but I'll try it out early next week.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Just clean your copper tubing & fittings to a high shine.  Clean Flux.  Don't cook the joint. When the solder runs like Irish Buttermilk , take the heat away.  Wipe the hot Flux off when solder goes hard. Show us when you're done.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    Just clean your copper tubing & fittings to a high shine.  Clean Flux.  Don't cook the joint. When the solder runs like Irish Buttermilk , take the heat away.  Wipe the hot Flux off when solder goes hard. Show us when you're done.  Mad Dog 🐕 

    Reminds me of a cut-rate plumber I once worked with in NY. He soldered up an entire house full of baseboard radiators. When he turned the water back on, every joint leaked. Turns out he had mistaken a container of grease for flux, and had greased every joint before soldering! Pete the Plumber, RIP.

    Mad Dog_2CLambMikeAmannEdTheHeaterMan
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    What a Mutt!  Ha ha 😂 🤣 😆.  I was always amazed at how long  an unsoldered joint that was jammed together would hold until it blew out.  Mad Dog 🐕 
    mattmia2
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
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    Then there was the time when Pete the Plumber had bought two toilets for another job in NYC. Pete loaded the toilets into the back seat of his 1970's Cadillac, then stopped somewhere in the 'hood for coffee and a donut. When he came out, the Caddy had been stolen, along with the toilets in the back seat. Car thief got a vintage ride, plus two free thrones, courtesy of Pete.
    Mad Dog_2EdTheHeaterMan
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    What company? What year? What hood? I've worked all the worst ones.  Mad Dog  🐕 🤣 💀 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    I had a good friend who lived in Brownsville, Brooklyn (Mike Tyson town).  Very good plumber.  Got his fully stocked  Plumbing van stolen.  His next van had two Pitbill rescues sleeping in the van overnight...They never took his van again.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    I had a good friend who lived in Brownsville, Brooklyn (Mike Tyson town).  Very good plumber.  Got his fully stocked  Plumbing van stolen.  His next van had two Pitbill rescues sleeping in the van overnight...They never took his van again.  Mad Dog 🐕 

    LOL, that's probably where Pete got his Caddy stolen, either Brooklyn or Queens, I forget.
    Mad Dog_2
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,613
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    I worked with a guy that worked for one of the cheap cut rate contractors before he worked at the same company with me.

    While at the previous company they re piped a school during the summer. All the work was done the cheapest fastest way possible.

    They were told to solder everything (press wasn't around then) and were not allowed to clean the tubing and fittings (takes too much time) as they were all brand new.

    Of course, when they turned the water on it looked like lawn sprinklers in the building.
    Mad Dog_2CLamb
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
    edited September 2023
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    They were told to solder everything (press wasn't around then) and were not allowed to clean the tubing and fittings (takes too much time) as they were all brand new.

    "There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over again."

    MikeAmannmattmia2Mad Dog_2CLamb
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    If you had even the most basic soldering skill you'd know if the flux wasn't working.
    realliveplumberMad Dog_2CLambTeemok
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    I can't see how a "plumber", even a first year apprentice, wouldn't know that the solder was not flowing into a properly prepared joint.

    Maybe one, possibly two. Aint no way a plumber would not pick up on a problem like a whole house of joints that were not fluxed.
    Mad Dog_2mattmia2
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
    edited September 2023
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    I can't see how a "plumber", even a first year apprentice, wouldn't know that the solder was not flowing into a properly prepared joint.

    Maybe one, possibly two. Aint no way a plumber would not pick up on a problem like a whole house of joints that were not fluxed.

    I swear I am not making this up. I only saw Pete the Plumber on this one job, and he probably got his plumbing license from a box of Cracker Jacks. To say he was "cut-rate" is about as generous a description as I can give. New York City is full of characters, and he was a character. That thing with the grease instead of flux happened about 40 years ago, and I never forgot it, because it was so unbelievable that a "plumber" could do that and not know something was wrong.
    Mad Dog_2GGross
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,613
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    I have seen guy who don't use primer on pvc either.

    I know I work slow (when I did work) but is it worth taking shortcuts like not using primer or cleaning fittings?? I just cant do it. Work is too hard to have to do things over. I flip out if I get a leak as it is.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    I've seen G.C.s silicone PVC joints...."Its fasta...it won't leak..." Mad Dog 🐕 
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 287
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    I've heard of folks using petroleum jelly as flux on copper soldering so I guess that other petroleum greases and oils might work but not nearly as well as commercial flux.
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
    edited September 2023
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    CLamb said:

    I've heard of folks using petroleum jelly as flux on copper soldering so I guess that other petroleum greases and oils might work but not nearly as well as commercial flux.

    I'm trying and failing to imagine how a petroleum-based lubricant could possibly help, instead of interfere with, the flow, surface wetting, and adhesion of a molten-metal-to-solid-metal bond.

    The only analogy I can think of is spraying metal that I'm going to weld (flux-core) in advance with cooking oil spray, which is a vegetable oil, which helps prevent the spatter beads from adhering to the metal around the weld. The oil doesn't help the molten metal spatter beads stick, it interferes with the adhesion. I can't see why the results should be any different with solder.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Flux is a mild acid.  Petroleum jelly is greasy...never tried it but I can't see the solder adhering.  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    I cant even see the solder flowing.

    If you've ever forgotten to flux a joint, (I have) you know what im talking about.

    It just falls off of the pipe.
    Mad Dog_2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    flux's job is mostly to keep the pipe from oxidizing when you heat it. i could see grease potentially doing that at least somewhat but have not tried it.
    CLamb
  • Jersey2
    Jersey2 Member Posts: 165
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    You could heat and tap off the back 90 and clean the end of the pipe good, then solder a length of pipe to the new adapter, and solder a length of pipe to a new 90 that will be in the back, then screw in the adapter with the soldered pipe using pipe dope, then (plumbers will hate this part) put a sharkbite 90 on the end of that pipe, and push the pipe with the back 90 soldered on into the other end of the sharkbite 90 and rotate it down, then push the back pipe over a bit and slip the 90 on it. The back 90 will be able to rotate too to help get it on since the other end of it is in the sharkbite. Then you only have to make one solder joint with the assembly in place, the back one. The other two solder joints can be done on the work bench.
    I'm not a plumber or hvac man and my thoughts in comments are purely for conversation.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    I'm going to try it.  I'm going to say, solder will not adhere to the copper with petroleum jelly or Plumbers grease, Duck Butter, et cetera.  Its going to bead off...Mad Dog 
    realliveplumberSTEAM DOCTORjesmed1mattmia2
  • Jersey2
    Jersey2 Member Posts: 165
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    I'm going to try it.  I'm going to say, solder will not adhere to the copper with petroleum jelly or Plumbers grease, Duck Butter, et cetera.  Its going to bead off...Mad Dog 

    I tried it despite knowing better lol. No it does not work. It makes me question the Plumber Pete story.
    https://youtube.com/watch?v=b-ES_It7d9w
    I'm not a plumber or hvac man and my thoughts in comments are purely for conversation.
    Mad Dog_2CLamb
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,735
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    Jersey2 said:

    You could heat and tap off the back 90 and clean the end of the pipe good, then solder a length of pipe to the new adapter, and solder a length of pipe to a new 90 that will be in the back, then screw in the adapter with the soldered pipe using pipe dope, then (plumbers will hate this part) put a sharkbite 90 on the end of that pipe, and push the pipe with the back 90 soldered on into the other end of the sharkbite 90 and rotate it down, then push the back pipe over a bit and slip the 90 on it. The back 90 will be able to rotate too to help get it on since the other end of it is in the sharkbite. Then you only have to make one solder joint with the assembly in place, the back one. The other two solder joints can be done on the work bench.

    I would have left enough copper sticking out of the ell for a coupler when i cut it but that ship has sailed.

    What i would do now is wet and shield the wall and framing and use a torch with a pencil flame adjusted small and point it perpendicular to and angled a little away from the wall and heat and remove that 90. Put a wet rag on the joint inside the wall so you don't accidentally loosen that.

    Once the ell is off I would clean the pipe until a new ell will fit over it and i would screw a new adapter with a length of pipe to connect to the ell sweated to it in to the baseboard then slip a new ell on and sweat that joint similar to the way the old ell was removed.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,103
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    Jersey...Old timers were great for pulling your leg...and the sinister ones would sabotage you!  Mad Dog 🐕 
    Jersey2
  • jesmed1
    jesmed1 Member Posts: 560
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    Jersey2 said:
    I'm going to try it.  I'm going to say, solder will not adhere to the copper with petroleum jelly or Plumbers grease, Duck Butter, et cetera.  Its going to bead off...Mad Dog 
    I tried it despite knowing better lol. No it does not work. It makes me question the Plumber Pete story. https://youtube.com/watch?v=b-ES_It7d9w
    Of course it doesn't work. That's why every joint that Pete greased leaked when he turned the water back on. But he didn't do it because he thought grease would work, he did it because he thought a container of grease was a container of flux.
    Mad Dog_2Jersey2