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Old 06-23-2007, 04:52 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Cabot , Vermont
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Water Line Damage, What Can I Do?

Hi All,
I'm a proud inhabitant of a 1974 31 ft Sovereign in the rolling hills of VT (endured a bitter cold winter here in the old yacht and came out of it with all ten fingers and toes!) and have some questions about repairing my water system.

I never used my water system in my land yacht until yesterday when I plugged her in and cranked the water to see if it's intact, and naturally, what I discovered is that I have some serious problems. It appears that the previous owner failed to empty the lines in sub freezing conditions, and there are several spots along the copper water lines that split. Judging from the leaks I found, it appears that most of the damage occured beneath the heater area and under the shower where the lines run down below the floor line. I can see two big gashes in the lines directly beneath the heater area and, and the others remain mysteriously hidden beneath appliances and floor boards. So my question is this: what is the best approach to finding ALL of these leaks and repairing them? Does anybody know of where I might find a complete water system diagram (pipes, pumps, heaters) that would at least show me where I should start looking for all the water lines? Has anybody else had this problem and actually fixed it without a giant headache??!

Any advice people might have concerning the mid 70s water system in general would be greatly appreciated too. Hope you're all traveling well,

Elliott
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Old 06-23-2007, 07:32 PM   #2
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1957 22' Flying Cloud
1971 31' Sovereign
1976 29' Ambassador
Malibu , California
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I have no experience on '70's trailers but in the 60's they ran the copper along the wall on the galley side from the water heater and fresh water inlet and also to/ from the fresh water tank.Look in your cabinetry and you should be able to trace it. Your manual will also have a diagram if you have one.
The copper is easier to patch than replace, unless you do the entire rig with modern PEX.
I successfully patched several leaks such as yours in copper with an epoxy stick material that you cut and knead for a minute. I've also seen kits at the hardware store for that purpose.
I did a crude wrap around patch , working it tight and it held pressure just fine.
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Old 06-23-2007, 08:24 PM   #3
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. , Illinois
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If it's copper, you can simply cut the broken section and sweat a new piece in.

If it's a major thing in a place you gotta rip a bunch of stuff out to get to it and there is a lot of pipe back there, you might consider going PEX. It takes slightly more abuse than copper can....but for a quick down and dirty fix, sweating in a new piece of copper can be quick and fairly painless depending on how hard it is to get to the broken section...to me that's the hardest part.
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Old 06-23-2007, 08:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
If it's copper, you can simply cut the broken section and sweat a new piece in.
The only thing is, if the copper expanded enough to split, it expanded enough so a new piece of copper will not fit it. Ask me how I know this. Depending on how much you want to finished product to look like a "field repair", you can a) cut out the affected pipe, and replace it, as much as you need to remove to get replacement pipe to fit.
b) cut out the affected area, and slide a piece of reinforced vinyl over the copper pipe. If you do this, make sure you use two hose clamps, like a marine hose connection.
c) Install adapters for CPVC and install CPVC where the copper lines are damaged. This is not as good as PEX, but you don't have to buy a special (read: expensive) tool to crimp the PEX together.
d) Install PEX throughout the coach. This is the best, and most expensive, alternative.
You can use any or all of these repair methods in almost any combination.
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Old 06-23-2007, 11:04 PM   #5
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Danielsville , Georgia
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Copper lines that have expanded due to freezing can be uniformly enlarged using a swage (sp?), a tool which costs less than $10 at a hardware store or plumbing supply house. The correct size copper can then be inserted inside the enlarged opening and soldered together.

The plumbing isn't that hard to figure out, but you may need to remove a few things to get to it. I would recommend using compressed air rather than water to check for leaks. (You can buy things that will fit into your 3/4" female hose fitting/city water inlet or make your own with a few fittings.)

The 3 valve mess going to the fresh water tank below the kitchen floor is an absolute delight to work on! Also, depending on your layout (rear bath or center bath) you may have to drop your fresh water tank if you have any cracks in the cross over pipes underneath it. (center bath) I did and it was the only way to get to them (and it is the lowest point of the plumbing) If it's rear bath, you may need to partially disassemble the tub if you have any cracks back there.

Repair what you can see, then put compressed air to it and you'll know where your problems are. (It makes quite a bit of noise in the copper lines.)

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Old 06-24-2007, 09:51 AM   #6
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1974 31' Sovereign
Cabot , Vermont
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Thank you all for your replies. Your advice gives me the courage to take a whack at it! Let's let the water flow like wine!

Thanks again- will upload photos when I've successfully fixed my problem!
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Old 06-24-2007, 11:48 AM   #7
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1971 31' Sovereign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
If it's copper, you can simply cut the broken section and sweat a new piece in.
Before you cut out anything- make sure you can get the right size copper. Again- I don't know about '70's rigs but the '60's copper is some wierd size that I could not seem to find and eventually had to do the 'marine method' (heater hose / double clamp) to put back the cut out section before resorting to the epoxy patch. Kinda redneck, but it worked!!
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