A Successful Foray Into Plumbing

30 07 2011

Motorhome manufacturers don’t always build their RVs with service in mind. Cabinets are built on top of wiring and piping such that to access the guts, parts of the cabinetry need to come apart.

Sometimes they make a small effort with access panels, but inevitably any access that needs to be made is nowhere near a panel.

A few weeks ago we started to notice water pooling on the bathroom floor, particularly after driving. It was time to get to those guts. Access was a pain in the ass, but I trusted myself to be able to reassemble things and got to work exposing the piping and locating the leak.

After some testing with paper towels, I figured out that one tee fitting was leaking from somewhere. I don’t have experience with plumbing, but in my attempt to get handier, I figured I’d take a stab at the job. In retrospect, I should have just done things right the first time, but I figured I’d start by engulfing the tee in gobs of silicone sealant.

Smothered In Epoxy

Smothered In Epoxy

Testing the fitting the next day, I found that I had significantly slowed the rate of leaking, but not completely. Next up: epoxy. This is the stuff that should work. It’s supple at first and then bonds to anything, hardening to the point where it can be drilled into. I cleverly (Yeah, yeah. Modest. I know.) slid a piece of cardboard beneath the tee in case the epoxy didn’t hold and I needed to cut away the pipe.

Result of gobs of epoxy: still leaking. Okay, I thought. Time for the real deal. I went to Home Depot and found that they had an exact match for our FlowGuard Gold CPVC pipe in stock. I picked up ten feet of pipe and some fittings for less than the cost of the epoxy, and went to work. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: 

Use a hacksaw to cut away the bad piping. This was kind of annoying, as I had to cut in three places and access was a pain, but some careful contortion led to success. (Tip: No matter how you drain your pipes, there is going to be water left in them. Have a towel ready to mop it up.)

Ready For New Plumbing

Ready For New Plumbing

Step 2: 

Size your pipe needs and test your fittings to make sure that everything will fit snugly. Err on the side of cutting longer length than you need. It’s easier to trim off more than it is to cut a new section of pipe.

Pipe Lengths, Cut And Labeled

Pipe Lengths, Cut And Labeled

Step 3:

PVC “glue” isn’t glue at all. It uses solvent welding to attach PVC to PVC, and primer is used to soften the PVC for welding. Use primer, and use clear primer. Purple primer stains pretty much anything and is incredibly difficult to remove. The only difference between the two is the color. Purple is used in industrial plumbing so inspectors can see that primer was applied.

Primer And Cement

Primer And Cement

Done! (Except For Cleaning Up The Primer)

Done! (Except For Cleaning Up The Primer)

Anywho, follow the instructions carefully and you’ll end up with your plumbing in the same state as we did: Fixed!

posted by yair

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5 responses

30 07 2011
Carol Kerr

Plumbing is pretty easy. Unless you have to deal with compression fittings. Then I recommend calling the plumber!

I enjoy your “fix it” posts. Reminds me that we really can do these things!

30 07 2011
Yair

Funny to hear you say that about compression fittings. I thought that they would be easier to use, but because I would need to redo an entire tee fitting, I found that it would be way cheaper to use the original material. I even have another ~8′ of pipe left over.

31 07 2011
libertatemamo

Very nice piece of handy work there!
Nina

31 07 2011
Cyndi

VERY impressive! Me? I’ll jst dial 1 800 HELP! I believe in stimulating the economy when plumbing is involved.

I’ve got a call in to my son, who used to work at Home Depot to find out the deal with the fee WiFi, there. I’m wondering if ylu and Roxanne were at stores that advertised free WiFi?

I’ve also written to Home Depot, corporate HQ to inquire.

Cyndi & Stumpy @ RVly Ever After

4 08 2011
Your handy brother!

Like Andrea has always said, education, no matter how you get it, is expensive. Glad you were able to fix it. Next time, call or email, I could have helped remotely.

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