Understanding Plumbing Basics
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Understanding Plumbing Basics

As a new homeowner, I can tell you that things aren't always as simple as they appear. I started thinking about it a few years ago, and I realized that there were some serious problems with our plumbing system. We had issues with drains working correctly and toilets flushing like they should, so I started focusing more heavily on understanding the basics of our plumbing system. Within a few short months the entire system was operating more fluidly because of a few changes that I made, so I wanted to create a blog all about my journey. Check out these articles to learn more about the plumbing basics.


Understanding Plumbing Basics

Plumbing Tips for Working With Water Supply Lines in Tight Spaces

Jorge Alexander

If you are remodeling your home, then you may want to complete a bit of plumbing service. This will allow you to upgrade your sinks or install new pipes to replace older ones. If you are simply a homeowner, then you may not have a great deal of plumbing knowledge. You may find yourself in some pretty tough situations, like tight spots around supply lines that are extremely difficult to maneuver yourself. Keep reading to learn about some tips that will help you get your plumbing work done in these tight spots. 

Reheat Solder Instead Of Cutting

If you notice a short water supply line coming out of the wall that attaches to your sink or toilet, then you may find it difficult to attach a new fitting to this line if the shutoff valve also needs to be replaced. Replacement is necessary if the valve leaks, does not turn properly, or if it is old and showing signs of deterioration. 

In most situations, it is best to cut the old valve away and start with the trimmed plumbing edge. This is not always possible if the plumbing line is too short. If it is short and a one-half to one-inch cut is not a good choice, then it is wise to reheat the solder keeping the valve in place. As the solder warms, it melts away and you can pull the valve away from the supply line. Before you do this, you should turn the water off at the main. The valve is stopping water from shooting out of the supply line. Also, you will need to purchase a torch. Both propane and butane torches work well in this case. A pair of heat resistant work gloves are also a good option. 

Hold on to the water shutoff valve and use your torch to heat up the solder around the valve. As the solder melts, you will be able to pull the valve away. Once you do this, use a cotton cloth to wipe away as much of the melted solder as possible. Allow the pipe to cool and then run your fingers around the edge of the pipe to feel for solder residue. If there is some left, then use a medium grit piece of sandpaper to sand away the solder. You should be able to slip the new valve over the pipe at this point. 

Use Quick Connects

Sometimes you have no choice but to cut away at the water supply line, like when a hole, bend, or tear develops right at the end of the line. In this situation, you will need to cut away the damage or risk the formation of a larger opening. Unfortunately, if the end of the supply line is too close to the wall, then it may be dangerous to heat up the pipe to add solder. 

To connect a longer supply pipe or the shutoff valve, you can use quick connect fittings instead of soldered pipe pieces. These fittings are sometimes called push fittings, shark bites, or bite fittings. Instead of using solder to create a joint, the push fittings use sharp pieces of metal to hold onto the water pipe. They also have internal o-rings that create self-adhering seal to prevent leaks. 

You simply need to press the fitting into place using your hands. However, you should understand a few things before using the fittings. The push fittings will have an arrow printed on them that tell you which way water is supposed to flow. Use this arrow to help you understand which way the fitting should be positioned. Also, make sure to use a great deal of pressure when pressing the fitting in place. You may hear a snapping noise when the fitting is secured properly. Even so, you should always check for leaks directly after installation.