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Old 06-02-2005, 09:39 PM   #1
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One leak leads to another...

So we spent the day fixing the plumbing and leaks. Faucets replaced and shower mixing valve. When all was hooked up I put city water pressure and turned on the water. Guess what???? Leak behind the panel over the curbside wheel well. What a surprise.
So I pulled out the tubing cutter and removed ALL of the tubing I could.
One thing I noticed about freeze damaged plumbing is that the pipe diameter widens to the point that standard fittings cannot be used to repair the plumbing. So it all has to go.
Also, at my local Home Depot I can only find 5-foot sections of PEX tubing. The rolls and fittings that they used to have no longer exists. I am told that the tubing is not as sturdy as once reported so it has been removed.
I think Iíll go with copper againÖ..

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Old 06-02-2005, 11:03 PM   #2
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The previous owner of my motorhome had assembled a plumbing system from an awful hodgepodge of copper in several sizes, flexible metal lines, and radiator hose. I ripped it all out and replaced it with PEX, and I heartily recommend this approach.

RV Parts Outlet sells 20' lengths of 3/8" PEX tubing, which is the size I used throughout.

If you have a business in your area that sells mobile home supplies, you might try looking there for the proper fittings. Blevins Inc. in Nashville had all the Qest brand fittings I needed for my project, including a couple of cutoff valves that were perfect for my needs.

The Qest fittings are very easy to use and, in my experience, foolproof if installed correctly. If you use the 3/8" tubing, the fittings also hook directly and easily to 1/2" NPT items like faucets, water pumps, and water inlets. The tubing size is inside diameter; I find that the 3/8" is adequate for all of my water system needs.


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Old 06-02-2005, 11:11 PM   #3
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I have 5/8" I.D. for the cold water supply line and 1/2" for the hot water return. I would prefer to replace with the same ID sizes if I can...
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Old 06-02-2005, 11:51 PM   #4
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I went against the conventional PEX wisdom and chose CPVC.

It was very easy to work with. The connctions were compact and inexpensive.

You can read about my trials here.

I like it. This will be our third season with it. No leaks!

I do think what ever you chose, copper, pex, or whatever, your on the right track to just replace it all.

Get it over with and you won't have to worry about the unexpected popping up.

Good luck with your replumb!
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Old 06-03-2005, 12:14 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Get it over with and you won't have to worry about the unexpected popping up.

Good luck with your replumb!
I agree with Tim get it over with.
I did use PEX though and have found it a good choice, I used crimp fittings and rented the crimper, no leaks yet, second season.
You can find PEX in 50' rolls at Lowes.
Just change it all out, you'll be happier in the long run.
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Old 06-03-2005, 12:26 AM   #6
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We are right there with you.

My husband went to fix the one leak we had. He started the pump and three more appeared.

One of the leaks is under the tub I think. He saw some water leaking out. Do we attempt to fix it, or throw in the towel ?
We are getting discouraged .
Unfortunately our electrical isn't much better .
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Old 06-03-2005, 01:38 AM   #7
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When I bought my 67 International in 1984 I knew it had freeze damage to the copper water pipes because I could see a section inside the cabin along a wall. When I got it home, I pressurized the system with water to see where all the damage was. It leaked from A to Z.

I then took pencil and paper and made a simple diagram of the whole water system, including the front pump, the commode/shower, the water heater and the two sinks. Then I went to Ace Hardware and bought 1/2 inch plastic pipe, I think it was PVC, not as flexible as the newer type available today but quite easy to work with. It came in hot and cold water versions, the hot being a little more expensive. I bought hot throughout the trailer to simplify things. Then I glued the system in place, using the special glue needed for that type of pipe.

Here it is 21 years later, and the system still works well. The only failures I have had were two, maybe three, small cracks in L-joints in the bathroom area, perhaps because that area is in the rear and takes the most shock on the road. When these cracks developed, they were very small slow-drop dribbles, so there was not a gush of water but just a wet spot. Like most trailerists, I am always looking and feeling for wet spots from manmade sources or nature's. Seems to be an acquired habit.

By the way, when I did my complete water pipe makeover, I did not remove any sheetmetal. The entire system was reachable through the rear (bathroom area) panel and inside the cabin.

On the road, I carry my leftover joints, a six-foot length of pipe and a pipe cutter to repair any leaks that might develop. I carry the glue, too, but it goes bad after a while. Fortunately, Ace is usually not too far away.
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Old 06-03-2005, 03:17 AM   #8
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Super connectors

Give Shark Bite Fittings a try, they don't require the rental of the compression tool and can be removed with their own special tool. They also work with multiple types of pipe...kind of a universal fitting if you will. They are available at many of the larger plumbing supply houses, Fergusons in our area.

My personal preference is copper but that is what I "grew" up on and I don't have any problems working with it. And at the moment I don't have any plumbing leaks that I am aware of....

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Old 06-03-2005, 04:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Buttercup
...I think Iíll go with copper again...
I went with copper during the refurb of my Overlander for several reasons. Like wahoonc, I am comfortable both with it, and working with it. Pex line & CPVC are both good stuff, but I knew from experience that connecting it to the faucets' metal lines would probably be frustrating between locating the right conversion fittings, and hoping that next year, the dissimilar material union would not leak due to differences in thermal expansion rates.

Now, in my case, not every single bit of copper had to be replaced. I started out to simply replace the two radiator hose repairs, and one compression union repair with soldered fittings. Noting that the line adjacent to the repair had swelled from freezing, I miked (as in "measured with a vernier caliper") all of the copper, and replaced all lengths of swelled line.

Also, although I am obviously on copper's bandwagon, I feel obliged to point out something about RV copper lines that I both found surprising, and have never seen discussed on the forums - weak solder joints. While gently repositioning the toilet supply line, the line twisted out of the TEE fitting.

Examining both sides of the failed connection, it looked like it used to be a good solder joint, and had simply failed. The same failure also occurred at a kitchen sink fitting. Freezing was not an issue since the parts involved still measured to within spec. My assumption is that vibration weakened the solder in the joints.

Since I had access to the original flavor of tin-lead solder , my solution was to clean all existing joints at the solder line, slather the immediate area with flux, and reheat the joints to re-flow the solder. The original recipe solder was used to gauge the heat level (when it melted, the joint was hot enough).

No leaks after roughly 6000 miles and one winter cycle! Good luck with whatever route you choose to take.

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Old 06-03-2005, 06:16 AM   #10
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Man, and here I thought I had this plumbing thing figured out.......

Well I guess that it is time to start looking at the options again, since I am starting with a blank slate.
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Old 06-03-2005, 07:50 AM   #11
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I'll be installing a new water system in my gem after I get the floor installed and have decided to use pex pipe with Sea Tech quick connection fittings. Repairs can be done on-the-road, where pex is available, and I don't have to dismantle anything to isolate the joint (no fire/heat required). With a little duck tape I can repull any line!

Not only do they have colored pex (red for hot, blue for cold - if you like) but they also have manifolds (a condensed multi-valve system) that will provide for a clean, orderly, and easily accessable system that will come in very handy during winterization!
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Old 06-03-2005, 08:15 AM   #12
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My original leak was at the mixing valve and it required removing the tub to get at the plumbing. I was nervous about taking on that type of job and my wife wondered if we made a mistake in getting the trailer Ė but only for a minute. I scoured the forums for some sort of procedure to follow. There was only a few pictures of tubs removed. So I took pictures of our tub removal process. Itís not complete but gives an idea of the steps involved.

We wound up removing not only practically everything in the rear bath but the center bedroom (for lack of a better term). It is all on our web site. It can be done but I think you have to have some confidence in your own ability to do this type of work. On this forum you will find people with no experience in working with tools take on jobs like this and they are succeeding.

Everybody else,

I am going to take a look at Lowes this evening if I can. See what my options are. Like I said Copper is preferred but if I can find PEX and the appropriate fittings, I may go with that. Actually I lied, I didnít remove ALL of my plumbing. I will keep part of it at the back Ė stuff I know I can reach if I need. I did remove all the stuff from the bath to the pump. I will be removing some (or all) of the rest depending on a few factors including time wich is running short for me. What it comes down to is that I will have practically new plumbing system. I am going to incorporate nice features like bypass and blocks around the water heater, an accumulator, cutout valves where I can and an antifreeze suction thing to make winterizing easier.
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:28 AM   #13
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Thanks Buttercup!

Thanks for the reply.
How much time and $ are we going to have to invest into the plumbing?
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:40 AM   #14
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The cost and time involve really depends on what your problem is. By itself, tubing and fittings aren't expensive. But getting at your problem may require extensive disassembly, which may lead to replacement of fixtures, tanks, heaters, flooring or even structural repairs. So, the plumbing may just end up being a clue that you have bigger issues to attend to.

Not knowing the age, model or (plumbing related) condition issues of your trailer makes it almost impossible for anyone to advise you on this.


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