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Old 04-17-2003, 07:40 PM   #1
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Unhappy Plumbing - A Mystery Pipe

Well it seems our winterizing didn't take real well as we have a couple of burst copper pipes. Though they only failed at sites that were previously repaired with solder, so I don't feel too bad :-)

Here's my question. While looking at the jumbled tangle of pipes in the back end of my Overlander we isolated one section of plumbing that had a leak but I really don't know what it does.

Let's see if I can explain this in 100 words or less...if you look at the backside of the toilet, there is a steel? double elbow deal that is attached to the metal part of the flush apparatus. (Check out Action's pics for a better explanation of this fitting, it looks the same as mine - can you tell I'm not a plumber??) Now, a length of pipe comes off the left side of this elbow, travels across towards the street side of the trailer, goes up the wall behind the bathroom cabinet, takes a U-turn and comes back down the wall, halfway back across the trailer, and connects to the main water line on the floor, with a valve installed along the way. What the heck is the reason for all the extra length of pipe going up the wall? Is this some plumbing trick that allows for better pressure, less pipe knocking, what? I've got six feet of pipe between two connections that are only about 1 foot apart.

Since we aren't using the toilet, as I still have not replaced the black water tank yet, I find if the valve mentioned above is closed, I can run the water system just fine with this section of plumbing removed. So I have to assume this line is for the toilet?

Now, on the right side of that elbow I have another line that goes up the back wall, behind the fiberglass bathroom shell, so I can't tell what it goes to. I wouldn't be surprised if it does the same thing as the other one.

Any help here? I would appreciate it! All faucets, etc (minus the toilet) appear to be in working order with or without these sections of plumbing in place. Help me get out of my plumbing jungle and I'll be a happy camper once again. Just need to know what it is I am looking at!

Three weeks to California - gotta get these repairs taken care of!
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Old 04-18-2003, 09:01 AM   #2
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I have a '74 tradewind so I may be speeking out of turn, but I would guess that all that extra pipe would be for one of two reasons:

1: To allow for flex in the system as you drive down the road.
2: It may be a common layout that is designed to work with more than one type of trailer. In other words, other models of that year may have items that the pipe has to work around to reach the toilet.

As far as the second pipe... I can't tell if you are saying that the pipe is before or after the valve. If it is after the valve, and is turned off with the valve, then it may be the pipe that is used for an optional spray nozel that is used on many of the newer models. The spray head may not acctually be installed, but the pipe may still be there. I am not sure if that was an option in '66.

If it is before the valve, it could either lead to the shower, or it may lead outside the trailer to the hose connection. That would be that place that you connect a hose at campgrounds so that you don't have to use your on-board water tank.

Hope I have helped and not added to the confusion.
Patrick
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:22 AM   #3
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Tamara.

The pipe/pipes you describe are a "vacuum breaker."

The theory back then was far removed from today.

Simply delete it from the plumbing system. It won't hurt a thing.


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Old 04-18-2003, 10:35 AM   #4
 
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Andy,

Thanks for the identification of that mystery pipe.

Do you know what year Airstream stopped using this "vacuum breaker." ?
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Old 04-18-2003, 10:42 AM   #5
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As I recall, 1966 was the last year Airstream used a "vacuum breaker" for the toilet.

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Old 04-18-2003, 11:30 AM   #6
 
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Thanks, we can relax then.
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Inland RV Center, In
[B]Tamara.

The pipe/pipes you describe are a "vacuum breaker."
The theory back then was far removed from today.
Simply delete it from the plumbing system. It won't hurt a thing.
Andy,

Now THAT'S what I wanted to hear!! Just one minor clarification...can I ditch both sections of pipe that I mentioned? The one I already have removed on the street side and the one that goes behind the wall into who knows where on the curbside? (I'm pretty sure it's not to the sprayer although that was a good guess Patrick.) Does this "vacuum breaker" include the whole shebang, or just that one lengthy section of pipe on the left?

Oh, and thanks for diagnosing my problems without an office visit - I promise I won't come back to hound you if I somehow misunderstand your advice and accidentally rip out my kitchen sink....hahaha.

Thanks a million, you made my day that much easier. Glad I didn't buy the replacement pipe for it yet!

what a good start to my weekend of trailer chores!
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Old 04-18-2003, 01:45 PM   #8
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Tamara.

Completely eliminate the vacuum breaker and it's two copper line.

When you do so, you then must run a single copper line, directly to the toilet. If you don't you will not have any water flow.

Another way to say it is to eliminate the vacuum breaker only, by cutting it out of the system. Then shorten the remaining copper so that it doesn't go up and then back down.

If you still have a question, please call me.

One word of caution. I am assuming that the toilet plumbing has not been modifed before.


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Old 04-18-2003, 01:56 PM   #9
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Andy,

Thanks. I will have a look and make sure all that makes sense to me. If not I'll give you a call. Since we aren't using the toilet currently, I'm not in a rush. Sounds like it should be a simple fix for the plumbing.

I really appreciate your help!
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