My Never-Ending Basement Plumbing Project

I’ve got this plumbing project in my basement, that I’ve been working at for what seems like about a year now.

It started with my wife finding a leaky pipe. The leak was (is) at a copper tee, where a 3/4″ line branches out to 2 1/2″ lines. It was (is) leaking at a rate of a drop every 5 minutes or so. I put a bucket under it. This was last spring or so. The bucket is still there.

One of the 1/2″ branches goes to an outside sillcock. The original sillcock was unoperational (frozen up, clogged, whatever). So I decided, well, I need to take this all apart anyhow, so I might as well replace the sillcock. So I cut the branch, capped it near the tee, and took out the sillcock and all the old plumbing going to it. Then I routed new copper pipe back to the tee. That was last summer. Over the next couple months, I sweated most of the fittings along the new line. I’m not what you would call an expert at sweating copper, particularly where it comes to valves. Now, I’m at the point where I need to test my new branch for leaks, replace the tee, and connect everything back up. I’m not looking forward to it, so I’m putting it off.

I’m thinking about pressure testing the new branch to find leaks. Here’s the current plan.

  1. Take a short length of pipe, and sweat a female adapter onto one end
  2. Screw a quick-connect air coupling into the adapter
  3. Attach the other end to my branch using a compression coupling
  4. Attach air compressor, close all valves, crank up to 30PSI or so
  5. Leave it that way for awhile and see if it holds the pressure.

I figure if I use a compression fitting, that will allow me to reuse this contraption on other projects.

Once I’m satisfied the branch is leak-free, I can hook it up to the live plumbing, which is what I’m really not looking forward to. For some reason, I find plumbing projects like this infinitely more daunting than electrical projects. See, with an electrical project, if I hit a snag I can usually get away with leaving a branch circuit off for a day or two. Just plug stuff into different outlets, run some extension cords, whatever. This is not the case with plumbing. There is absolutely no way I’m getting away with leaving the water shut off for a day or two. If I screw up, I’m really screwed, so to speak. No, the job needs to get done right, the first time. And anyone who’s ever done plumbing knows that there are always “gotchas” lurking around the corner, waiting to spring on you after you’ve shut off the main and cut all the pipes apart. Then, when you get everything back together, you have to hope that you got everything right and nothing leaks. To me, plumbing has always seemed like more of a crap-shoot than electrical work. This is improving somewhat as I get more experience, but I’m still dreadding this project.

More (maybe a couple years) later when I get back to this project..