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Old 04-07-2010, 06:19 PM   #1
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Trouble with gatorbite/PEX repair

I did not winterize correctly and split a copper pipe. The pipe had two old repairs where it was spliced with rubber hose leftover from the previous owner, so I removed both of those repairs, and that allowed me to pull out a six foot section of copper pipe which included the split section.

I bought a couple GatorBite (Lowe's version of Sharkbite connectors) and some PEX, cut it to fit, and installed it - so each GB connects PEX to the old copper system. Problem is one connection is fine, and the other one leaks on the copper side. I pulled it off and cleaned the copper pipe with sandpaper and made sure it was nice and clean and smooth, put it back together, and it is still dripping when I pressurize the system. I even tried another brand new GB connector and it also leaks.

What else can I check? Is it possible this old copper pipe is just slightly misshappen and so it won't seal? Has anyone else dealt with this?
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:27 PM   #2
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We switched all of our water lines to Sharkbite fittings with 90% pex and 10% copper in the shower where it is exposed. Our copper was new though. We really didn't have any leaks once we got everything trouble-shot. My "guess" is that you have one of two problems:

1) Is it possible that that portion of copper is a distorted shape from the freeze? If so, by cutting it back further you may get to a round section that will fit properly and won't leak.

2) Are you sure it is pushed in all the way? Sometimes it's hard to tell, but with SB, there was a definite "click" when it goes in all the way. Also, the cut edge has to be pretty even and flat for it to fit properly.

One other thought, would be to try a Shark Bite and see if it works any better - I know it's a bit more expensive, but if it's only one fitting...you never know, it might make a difference.

I HATE plumbing issues - they are the evil undoing of many an Airstream!

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Old 04-07-2010, 06:37 PM   #3
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I can only think of a couple of issues:

Misshapen copper, un-square cut or a burr on the copper. And possibly a bad fitting, try turning the fitting around and see if it still leaks on the copper side. If so it is the pipe.

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Old 04-07-2010, 06:38 PM   #4
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Do not know for sure but you will probably need a fitting that goes from copper to pex. Dave can help you, he probably will see this and post.
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:39 PM   #5
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If the pipe was the right length and you inserted it all the way,insert a section of pipe into a fitting an mark the pipe at the edge of the connection, the only other problem would be an out of round pipe.

Before you install the next section of plastic mark the pipe to the same distance on the test piece you did as a test. This will give you a good indication the fitting is completely on. Sometimes working in tight places it is hard to know you have bottomed out in the fitting.
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:55 PM   #6
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Appears everyone has covered all of the bases.Dave
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post

1) Is it possible that that portion of copper is a distorted shape from the freeze? If so, by cutting it back further you may get to a round section that will fit properly and won't leak.
Stephanie,

Shari hit the nail on the head. Freezing water in copper pipe will cause it to expand. The Sharkbite fitting will not "bite" correctly.

I recall a thread long ago in which the poster could not find copper sweat fittings that fit his existing pipe. He brought a sample to a pro plumbing supply store to find out what size copper he had... the answer he got was "you have no size"

If you can, try to install a longer PEX segment... you may get to a point where the copper did not freeze.

Good Luck!
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:19 PM   #8
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It felt like it clicked into place, but it's still dripping, so I guess maybe the pipe is out of round. I can cut off a bit more. I'll have to move to the other side of the wall into the bathroom closet, and cut it off there. This is such a pain to fight with! These pipes are in such tight spots and so tight to the floor it's hard to get two hands on it at once!
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Old 04-07-2010, 07:25 PM   #9
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You have plenty of room there. Go to the Big Box Store and get a close quarters cutting tool. The tool will also tell you if the pipe is round. Lightly tighten the tool on the pipe and rotate it once around the pipe. If the pipe is round the feel to turn the tool will be equal all the way around.
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Old 04-14-2010, 05:25 PM   #10
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The copper pipe was a little out of round. I couldn't get the gatorbite fitting to seal, even after I cut it back as far as I could to what looked like good pipe, it still wasn't sealing. I went back to Lowes and got an Apollo compression fitting. It looks like it has an extra O-ring inside, so I hoped it would seal better. It seems to have done the trick, no leaks for the moment.
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