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How bad is it going to be to repair this leak?

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amin1992
amin1992 Member Posts: 46
edited February 26 in Radiant Heating

Hey guys. Found a leak in my hydronic baseboard pipe. Of course it's in a tricky spot... An elbow that goes into the wall, in a corner of a room. I also can't quite tell where the leak is - I thought it was coming from the solder joint between the elbow and the pipe but then it seems to be coming from the pipe itself.

Needless to say this is above my level as a homeowner. I've only repaired straight runs with lots of space.

Emergency boiler guy is coming this afternoon. Just want to brace myself for how difficult it's going to be...
hot1

Comments

  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,158
    edited February 26
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    I’d pack the opening with HotDam putty, spray the wall with some heat block also. Tricky but doable fora soldering pro
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Steve_WheelsSootmaster
  • amin1992
    amin1992 Member Posts: 46
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    Thanks @hot_rod ! Hoping my guy can get this done this evening
  • Mustangman
    Mustangman Member Posts: 98
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    Does the pipe going in the wall... does it come out of the wall and pick up another piece of baseboard? Or is it a home run to the basement. There is no easy good fix for what you have. I have been in this trade for 46 years, when I see leaks like that it makes me cringe. Its a tough spot. If the pipe feeds another baseboard, I would cut off both sides... over cut both sides so you done have a solder joint against the wall too. Next is pre-cut your piping on both sides of the 90, make them a little longer than you think. You can solder both sides of the 90 with the pieces you cut. Slide your end thru the wall. Now you can safely solder a coupling on both sides. Some guys like sharkbites. IMO they have a place but this isn't one of them,
    If it is a home run and you have no access. You will end up cutting the wall. I have done if from the front side by marking where the baseboard is with a pencil. Take off or cut the backer so you can cut where you traced. From there you will get a better look and if you do solder, you can see your flame and do a better job. Just take your time and I am sure you will have a good out come. You can use propress for this project and it eliminate any flame. Good luck
    Stephen Noviello
    bigbillynyc
  • amin1992
    amin1992 Member Posts: 46
    edited February 26
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    Thanks @Mustangman for the detailed response. It's hard for me to tell. This is on the second floor. The opposite side of this elbow is the exterior wall. On the left side on the other side of the wall, is a 2 story foyer. Strangely, the pipe goes into the wall and UP - so I have no idea how far it goes up to feed into the next baseboard pipe which does the same thing on the opposite side of the foyer.

    Fun fun... I honestly don't mind cutting drywall, repairing that myself later and repainting. What has me nervous is pulling the 1970's baseboard heater metal pieces from the wall. It's one giant run, maybe 15' across the wall. I obviously wouldn't be able to replace with something like for like. Guess we'll see.

    What has me going back and forth is that I couldn't find exactly where the leak was. Can't tell if it's coming from the elbow, from the soldered joint between elbow and pipe, or the pipe itself. If we can confirm it's the pipe, I thought maybe that could disconnect the soldered elbow-pipe joint, cut in a new pipe run and resolder to the original joint. We'll see.
  • amin1992
    amin1992 Member Posts: 46
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    I'm also wondering if it may be easier for me and my guy to cut the join out, and crimp on a line of pex to each side
  • Mustangman
    Mustangman Member Posts: 98
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    That will work too. You could Solder the adapter or propress them. I am 65 so at times I go too old school. I forget about using some of the new products.
    Good catch.
    Look at where the pipe touches the enclosure, if it does. Over time, vibration between the 2 will rub a hole in the pipe. If its an old house with wood lath, the tiny wood lath nails can do it too.
    Steve
    bigbillynyc
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    Might want to consider opening the ceiling below for access.

    When my customers gripe about cutting access holes, I tell them I can cut it now with a saw and vacuum, or the firefighter can cut it later with an axe.
    PeteADouble DJustinTheCarpenter
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,304
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    Hi, A few more thoughts and a question. What's the hose clamp doing? Was it in the past holding some rubber against a leak maybe? If so, it suggests the leak is at the joint facing the wall. I'd take some paper towels and mop things dry. Then with fresh paper towel touch areas again and see if you can find the source of water. I've had good luck finding leaks this way. About redoing the joint, another approach is to cut the 90 directly in half, with a 45 degree cut. Then you can move things around a bit to unsolder the pieces. Do use the fire prevention measures @hot_rod suggested. I like to soak things with a spray bottle as well. Do let us know how it works out!

    Yours, Larry
    PC7060rick in Alaska
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,861
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    Cut open the wall within the enclosure and get a look inside.
    PC7060RickDelta
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    We aren't supposed to talk about the cost of a given job in this forum, so you should edit your post to remove the dollar amount, but speaking as a homeowner I would say you got a very nice looking repair for a fair price. Keep that guy's number
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    Vinny_5bburd
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,158
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    Maybe spray some bleach on the area if you see signs of mold from being wet?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Koan
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 394
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    Was it actually a pinhole in the pipe? Or a leaking solder joint? Did the repair man have an idea as to the root cause? If pipe corrosion or erosion, you may have a water quality issue or flow velocity issue to address.
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,704
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    Honestly how often for any given pipe leak is this kind of fact-finding performed?
    NJ Steam Homeowner. See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el
    GGross
  • SgtMaj
    SgtMaj Member Posts: 76
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    That’s a nice repair.
    ethicalpaul
  • Koan
    Koan Member Posts: 439
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    Agree with @hot_rod, but I have used Fiberlock Shockwave successfully for anti mold. The bleach does a great job on the surface and can remove the stains, but tends to sit on the surface. Shockwave penetrates into the wood.
  • RayG
    RayG Member Posts: 2
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    Cut the 90 in half ,use an induction heater (no flame) to heat the halves to remove. Propress a new 90 on.
    SootmasterRickDelta
  • bigbillynyc
    bigbillynyc Member Posts: 4
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    I would def open wall up, as you said the water looks to be coming from the “pipe” and pipe goes up from there. Water could be running down pipe? No need to go heavy with the hole, start small and expand. Just my 2 cents.
    -bigbilly mad dogs fetch n step
  • Sootmaster
    Sootmaster Member Posts: 14
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    Not in Boston hot rod. Leave your torch in the truck those days are over (and I'm OK with that). Break out the pro press and get to it (don't forget the stiffner in the baseboard. 
    The walls in my house are stuffed with 1923 newspapers.  When I think of what could have gone wrong in the last 45 years it makes me shutter.
  • ccstelmo
    ccstelmo Member Posts: 31
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    I'm always reluctant to chime in on stuff like this because everyone else on the forum is so much smarter than I. But here goes anyway.
    Your local auto parts store has a product called "Radiator Stop Leak" or something like that. I had an 8'-long cast iron radiator I wanted to put into a house once but upon air testing I found it leaked. Just microbubbles. But a leak is a leak, right? Almost every section leaked at the bottom. So ..... I piped the radiator return to the radiator supply, running the piping thru a little Hibachi barbecue I found in my neighbor's trash. I put a pump in line and a way to inject fluid, and let 'er rip for 24 hours, stoking the Hibachi with coal, a lot of coal.
    Hey Presto! It worked. No more microbubbles. This all happened in 2014. I checked on it recently and it's still going strong. No hint of a leak anywhere. Don't ya just love it when a plan comes together?
    ccstelmo
    PeteA
  • Anthony Menafro
    Anthony Menafro Member Posts: 198
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    You contractor did exactly what I would have done. He did a nice job and did it at a very reasonable price.
    hot_rodethicalpaul
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 394
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    ccstelmo said:

    I'm always reluctant to chime in on stuff like this because everyone else on the forum is so much smarter than I. But here goes anyway.
    Your local auto parts store has a product called "Radiator Stop Leak" or something like that. I had an 8'-long cast iron radiator I wanted to put into a house once but upon air testing I found it leaked. Just microbubbles. But a leak is a leak, right? Almost every section leaked at the bottom. So ..... I piped the radiator return to the radiator supply, running the piping thru a little Hibachi barbecue I found in my neighbor's trash. I put a pump in line and a way to inject fluid, and let 'er rip for 24 hours, stoking the Hibachi with coal, a lot of coal.
    Hey Presto! It worked. No more microbubbles. This all happened in 2014. I checked on it recently and it's still going strong. No hint of a leak anywhere. Don't ya just love it when a plan comes together?
    ccstelmo

    The problem with stop leak is that any small orifice with water flow through it looks the same as a leak. Some devices such as sensors and gauges have small orifices that this stuff will also plug solid. And then you may have other devices that mysteriously quit working months or years down the road and you have no idea why as you have long forgotten the stop leak you used. I never recommend this stuff for any use, cars or otherwise as it almost always has side effects worse than the leak. Better to simply fix the problem properly.
    bburdSTEAM DOCTOR
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 917
    edited March 1
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    I tried stop leak on an old car radiator once. It stopped the leaks all right, but it plugged the radiator tubes so badly that the car ran about 30° hotter than normal on the highway. Fortunately it had a temperature gauge instead of an idiot light, so I was able to spot the problem before it boiled over.

    I had to have the radiator core replaced with a new one.

    Bburd
  • Voyager
    Voyager Member Posts: 394
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    bburd said:

    I tried stop leak on an old car radiator once. It stopped the leaks all right, but it plugged the radiator tubes so badly that the car ran about 30° hotter than normal on the highway. Fortunately it had a temperature gauge instead of an idiot light, so I was able to spot the problem before it boiled over.

    I had to have the radiator core replaced with a new one.

    I had much the same experience back in the 70s as a young driver, except it was the heater core that the stop leak plugged up and I ended up have to replace BOTH the radiator and the heater core since it didn’t completely fix the original leak. Most heater cores have much smaller passages than radiators and the stop leak seems to be able to clog them fairly easily.
    bburd
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 512
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    Voyager said:
    I'm always reluctant to chime in on stuff like this because everyone else on the forum is so much smarter than I. But here goes anyway. Your local auto parts store has a product called "Radiator Stop Leak" or something like that. I had an 8'-long cast iron radiator I wanted to put into a house once but upon air testing I found it leaked. Just microbubbles. But a leak is a leak, right? Almost every section leaked at the bottom. So ..... I piped the radiator return to the radiator supply, running the piping thru a little Hibachi barbecue I found in my neighbor's trash. I put a pump in line and a way to inject fluid, and let 'er rip for 24 hours, stoking the Hibachi with coal, a lot of coal. Hey Presto! It worked. No more microbubbles. This all happened in 2014. I checked on it recently and it's still going strong. No hint of a leak anywhere. Don't ya just love it when a plan comes together? ccstelmo
    The problem with stop leak is that any small orifice with water flow through it looks the same as a leak. Some devices such as sensors and gauges have small orifices that this stuff will also plug solid. And then you may have other devices that mysteriously quit working months or years down the road and you have no idea why as you have long forgotten the stop leak you used. I never recommend this stuff for any use, cars or otherwise as it almost always has side effects worse than the leak. Better to simply fix the problem properly.
    I think he had the radiator disconnected from the rest of his system and isolated so that the Stop Leak was continuously being heated and circulated through the one radiator... I'd imagine it would be fully cured in the radiator before he put it into service..
    Now a vehicle radiator I tried once in the 70's  .. it worked, until it didn't.  I got lucky and just pulled the radiator and traded it on a rebuilt one from a local that had quite a business back then with radiator repairs and rebuilds..at a reasonable cost.. 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • RickDelta
    RickDelta Member Posts: 375
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    amin1992 said:

    I'm also wondering if it may be easier for me and my guy to cut the join out, and crimp on a line of pex to each side

    I would have just vibe cut the two 90's out and replaced with two sharkbite 90's all within the metal work ....... $600 thank-you! : )

    (ProPress would be tuff to do in there)