Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's Good To Be Me

Sometimes, anyway.

Just fixed my favorite pair of glasses with Tix[1] solder and flux. Very kewl! They started to come apart at the transition between the rigid and flexible parts of the earpiece, which was welded or soldered. I'd been using my back-up glasses (perfectly round wire-rims) for the last few days, until I remembered I'd found the hard solder.

I also just did a temporary plumbing fix with self-amalgamating tape. I sure hope it holds or it'll be not so good to be me. Another bit of galvanized pipe, a 90-degree bend as usual, has started to pinhole -- I need to remove all the old iron pipe and finish the previous owner's partial conversion to copper. Too bad he didn't believe in dielectric unions![2] Worse luck, it's the hot water run that serves the kitchen and there's no shutoff other than right at the water heater.
1. Tix, "The Hardest Soft Solder on Earth," so on Mars there maybe is better, then? If that doesn't suit you, these guys have about every other kind, too.
2. This kind of union, you want. Or you have issues; you cannot have iron and copper together in water (unless it's distilled): there is a voltage. Then there is galvanic corrosion. After that, there are plumbers. Swift on their heels, bills. Big, fat, happy bills.


Joe in Reno said...

I dont know how aggressive your water is there but around here bronze fittings will last at least as long as a dielectric at much less cost. Red brass will get about 20 years and is even cheaper. Also, PEX is displacing copper pipe aroud the nation at a huge rate due to the ease of making runs, fewer joints, and the high cost of copper.(you also don't run the risk of accidently burning your house down)

Roberta X said...

There's something out there better than PEX (IMO), press-fit connections for copper. ("Sharktooth?" I think). Plumber used 'em last time -- he was wantin' to get done fast and this stuff is superquick and has held up very well. (Plus we got the fellow-gunny discount).

I do radio in this house and I really, really want my plumbing to be electrically continuous. There's a little PEX been done already and I don't much like it.

Joe Huffman said...

I think you can get by with deionized water. It doesn't have to be distilled.

And it's the current not the voltage that corrodes the pipes. It is the migration of the atoms from one structure to another. Of course you don't get a current unless there is at least some voltage (or super conductivity which is beyond the scope of the current conversation).

Yeah, I know. I get just a little too geeky when I get tired. I'll be sleeping alone again tonight...

Popgun said...

Hi, Roberta;

I remodeled a bathroom a couple of years ago, and used PEX; I had zero leaks, it's very quick, and it will not eventually go away like copper will in the water we have here. It can do hot or cold lines, and you can get it in colors. I used blue for the cold lines and red for hot lines.

An additional benefit is that it won't conduct electricity, if your house gets hit by lightning while you're in the shower.


Joanna said...

I felt the same way after I fixed my bike -- or rather, after I helped my dad fix my bike because a) we were at his house anyway, and b) he had all the tools.

Also, this:

Roberta X said...

Joe: 'Zackly, no volts, no current. --But it is indeed the current does the damage, which is why dielectric unions work, so...point taken.

Popguns: the PEX won't conduct but city water will! I just don't like PEX. If I'm going to use some pop-together junk, I might as well at least use a sturdy material.

Copper OR galvanized will last nearly forever here, leakwise, as long as you only have one or the other. The failure mode is it fills up with hard-water deposits, which is better than leaking.

Old Grouch said...


Surely the use of PEX doesn't exempt you from the old code requirement that (paraphrased) "anything metal that's touchable by people must be bonded to earth ground"?

IIRC this arose back when Edison was pulling electric wiring through (former) gas pipes: Frayed conductor could leave the body of a fixture energized, which you wouldn't be aware of until somebody grabbed hold of it.

I'm not sure I'd be particularly comfortable if the shower head and the tub I'm standing in could be at different potentials.

Anonymous said...

PEX has been used for water supplies for a long time, just not here - they've been in use in Europe for decades. It's got alot of advantages over copper - it's cheaper, it's faster, is easier to run, only requires work on the very ends of each line, and best of all, it's commonly done as "home runs", which means when you need to do work in the future, you can turn off that bathroom/kitchen, and not all the water in the house. The downside is the expander gizmo isn't cheap(ranging from several hundred for the manual ones, plus the cost of the heads, to 1500 bucks for the powered ones).

If you watch "This Old House", the contractors only seem to use all copper these days due to code requirements.

HTRN said...

^^Oops, that was me^^

joe in reno said...

Uh, not to be picky Roberta but....

"I really, really want my plumbing to be electrically continuous"

Doesn't happen with dialectric unions unless you jumper them.

Don't make me tell you the story of the local city hall janitor magically turned code inspector by the magic wand of affirmative action, who insisted I use a dialetric between cast iron and abs on a dry vent. Or that time another one, made me bond a plastic water line...oh,uh, wait, I just did!!!