Help! Add water line for garden hose before water softener

milkyjApril 19, 2012

Thanks for any suggestion. I want to add a water line before water softener to connect to garden hose. The reason being I am very tired of running down to basement to switch on and off the three ball valves for bypassing water softener every time I need water my lawn and garden. When the water softener was installed, I asked for adding pipe before softener but the installer refused. I was new home owner and too timid gal to challenge them. Anyway, the whole set up is a maze of tight turns with elbow next to elbow or tee or valve. I am wondering what is the best solution that involve minimum re-design. Please see the pics. I am not confident of doing de-soldering an elbow to change to a tee. Neither am I sure it's good idea to cut the pipe at the red lines then solder my own tee-elbow-elbow in such tight turns. I never soldered water pipes but I do plan to practice before doing the real thing.

What would you do?

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I understand and fully agree with your goal however I must tell you that what you propose would be difficult for even a trained plumber and this is far from a project that I would recommend for someone who currently does not have advanced soldering skills.

Having said that, let us still not give up on your project. In the photo it says your main water shutoff is in the cabinet to the right of this location. If you can post a photo of the inside of that cabinet I think I can show you a much easier way to install your tap.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Thank you lazypup! I will take picture tonight. It is a big re-route of water main in that cabinet. You will see.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Elbow 1 and elbow 2 are different, elbow 1 being a street 90. Remove elbow 2 and replace with a 3/4" x 3/4" x 1/2" TEE. It may have to be disassembled and reconnected but it can be done easily.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:06PM
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OK, here are the pictures of what's inside the cabinet. Looks strange right? There WAS more sensible place to add the softener loop but well, the cutting and soldering happened so fast while I was away from the job site...Anyway, lazypup, what do you think?

andy_c, thank you for your suggestion. I am worried about de-soldering. Is it easily done with a propane torch? Do you think there is enough flex to dissemble elbow2? BTW, what is "street 90"? Does that mean an elbow with one end cup and the other 3/4 pipe size?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:33PM
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Hi The picture of the closet gives me an idea. Prefab this, You can't solder yet so get a shark bite T fitting to fit your pipe. Get a piece of copper pipe(I would use the same size as the hard water pipe) Get a 1/4 turn shut off valve and necessay fittings to get the pipe going in the direction you want. Put about 6" stub on the output of your valve. Put it all together without solder see how it looks at where you want it on the hard water pipe. If you're satisfied remove the sharkbite fitting and solder it all together, if your solder joints look good they most likley are. Now shut off the water cut the hard wter pipe and install the sharkbite fitting. When you buy the sharkbite fitting get a tool to remove the fitting. They're
cheap and if you have it you won't need it.
Good Luck Woodbutcher

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 7:07PM
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In addition to plumbing I have also been doing commercial refrigeration & HVAC for over 35 years so I like to believe my soldering & brazing skills are at least slightly better than the average homeowner/DIY'er and based upon the problems involved I would not attempt to put a tee on that bipass line.

First off, it would be nearly impossible to get all the water out of those lines, yet if even a few drops of water are present you will not be able to heat the pipe enough to break one of those solder joints.

Second, both the hardwater line & the conditioned line are very rigid so even if you could melt the solder you could not get enough movement in the pipe to separate the joint, but you could introduce some very interesting leaks that would be a nightmare to fix.

Fortunately there is a much simpler solution. The bottom line in the first picture is the hardwater line. If you were to install a tee about 1/2 way between where that paper tag is hanging and the cabinet wall it would be fairly easy. (see attached illustration).

Begin by turning the main water shutoff in the cabinet off and turning both of those valves to the off position then mark the fitting allowance on the pipe so you know how much pipe to cut out while making sure there is sufficient pipe to fit in the Tee. There is enough space between those two lines that you can get a Mini- pipe cutter in there.

Next, using a strip of emery cloth, clean the ends of the pipe. You could solder a tee in there but given that you are not skilled at soldering, I would strongly suggest you use a sharkbite 3/4x3/4x1/2" reducing Tee.

Note, in the illustration I showed the tee pointing down but if you need to go up you can also do that from this point.

To install the tee the hardwater riser in the cabinet can be sprung back about an inch to give you clearance to get the tee in. (You may need a helper to reach the pipe in the cabinet).

I would then solder a short piece of 1/2" pipe into a valve and once its cool insert that pipe into the side opening of the tee. At this point you could turn this valve off and open the mainwater shutoff valve and the water conditioner feed valve on and you will have to water restored to the house, so you could finish running the line to the hose bibb now, or do that at another time.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 10:57PM
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lazypup you are amazing! You are right the riser in the cabinet is long enough to give plenty play. Thank you for such detailed instruction and illustration. Now I have new question. Because you are so wonderful I can't let you go. LOL. I have two hose bibbs. One on front, the other on back. I'd like to have both of them supplied with untreated water. How should I configure this? Should I install a 1/2 tee downstream the new valve you suggested me to put in? Or use a 3/4 tee instead of the shark bite reducing tee illustrated in your diagram, then add a 3/4 valve, then a 3/4X1/2X1/2 tee? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 8:29AM
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Here are a couple basic rules of thumb:

1.-If you double the diameter of a pipe it will increase the capacity by four times, while maintaining approximately the same pressure & velocity of flow.

2.-If you increase the size of a pipe by one nominal trade size it will approximately double the volume while maintaining approximately the same pressure & velocity of flow.

1/2" to 3/4" is one nominal trade size, so if you install a 3/4" tee on the hardwater line, then reduce that to two 1/2" lines you will still maintain a balance of pressure & flow.

Here is another tip. If you live in a cold climate where there is the possiblity of your hose bibbs freezing in winter, I would run 3/4" down from the hardwater line, then install a 3/4x1/2x1/2" tee to make the two lines for the hose bibs. I would then install a separate 1/2" stop & waste valve on each hose bibb line.

A "Stop & Waste" valve looks like an ordinary valve, but it also has a small 1/4" diameter cap on the side of the valve. The valve is installed so the cap is on the downstream side of the valve, so once the valve is turned off the little cap can be removed to drain the residual water out of the line on the downstream side. In this manner, instead of installing the expensive "Frost proof" hose bibbs, that can freeze and break, in the fall you could turn the supply valves off, and open the hose bibb to drain the line. The stop and waste cap is then removed to drain any water that may still be remaining on the input end of the line. Once your sure the line is drained you replace the stop cap and leave the hose bibb open all winter so if any water does leak past the valve it can drain out and you won't have problems with frozen hose bibbs. In springtime you simply open the stop & waste valves and allow the line to flush a couple minutes before closing the hose bibbs and your all set for summer.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Wow! This is some serious education on plumbing. OK, if I understand it right, I should run everything 3/4" from the point of cutting to the point of branching out to two hose bibbs using 3/4x1/2x1/2" tee. Everything downstream the 3/4x1/2x1/2" tee would be in 1/2" size including the "Stop & Waste" valves. I think I know what to do now.

Again, thanks for everyone's help. Especially lazypup. GW is such a great site because people like you.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 2:26PM
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When you're running your new line, be mindful of that cutoff valve on the right. don't interfere with its movement.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 3:36PM
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