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Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Posted by vgkg (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 30, 07 at 7:44

Hi folks,
I'm coming here a day late and a dollar short but here it goes.
The hot water line coming out of my hot water heater cracked open just 2 mintues before I went to bed Thursday nite (a lucky guy here as the "shower noise" was impacting under the steps as I was going upstairs to bed, otherwise it would have flooded all nite long, I shudder to think...). I immediately turned off the incoming cold water before things got soggy and needed to fix this pronto the next day. I'm pretty handy with fix-it stuff but not experienced yet with soldering copper pipes so at Lowes I picked up all the copper pipe/parts I needed and opted for the 2-tube copper pipe epoxy for the repair job. This stuff claims to be good for cold & Hot applications so I'm just wondering what you experts think of it for the short/long term?

After 3 days it's looking good, no leaks. In about 3 years from now I will replace all the house plumbing & this aging water heater as well and am just hoping this patch-up job will last until that time. Any opinions are appreciated (sorry I can't recall the brand name of the epoxy, it's that 2-tube injection mix stuff. Many thanks, vgkg


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I'm not an expert, but I would think that the pressure might blow it out at any moment. Did you wrap it, too? Just for peace of mind, you may want to get it fixed properly.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Sweating a repair coupling in is pretty easy. Make sure you drain the water down out of the pipe (pretty easy here, shut off the cold, and drain some out of the water heater).

I wouldn't trust the epoxy.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

On the water pressure, ha, ours ranges from 25-42 psi so no problem there (well water/pump). It would be nice to have the typical 60 psi but that'll have to wait until the major pipe overhaul in 3 years (switching from copper to pex or similar). So no worry on a blow out as that epoxy is hard as nails and was liberally applied as directed, if anything it will just be a drip leak at most (I hope) but still good & dry after 3 days now.

All this "repair" took place on the exit hot water pipe on top of the water heater so all was dry as a bone, and all parts were cleaned as would be prior to soldering. I just went the easy and cheaper way rather than buying all the needed soldering supplies which would have included a torch. The source of the leak was an elbow joint but I replaced about a 10" length which included the threaded part from the heater outlet, the elbow, a short pipe length, and connector to remaining pipe. Evidently a few years ago a repairman replaced all of this except the threaded connector and elbow which was thin as paper by now. The remaining pipe appeared to be the thicker version of copper and is still in great shape, easy to reconnect too. I used a combo of teflon tape and puddy? to attach the threaded part to the outlet.

Still wondering though of the life time of the epoxy but if it can last for 3 years I'll be happy. Also wondering if there's anything like a "leak alarm" on the market? That would add to piece of mind each time I go to bed, ha.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg,

Yes, they do make a "leak alarm" even better, they make a valve that will shut off the water if water is detected on the floor.

But the real issue is that you need to fix the problem right. Just hire someone to do it or learn to sweat pipe on a piece of practice pipe. I am a big fan of epoxy... but an even bigger fan of not being surprised by a flood in my basement.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hi Jake, by being a big fan of epoxy I take it that it's ok with you? The small job I did on this quick fix looks good and intact as long as you think 3 years isn't pushing it. I really don't want to do a do-over if this'll stand the test of 3 years time. If I was doing the entire house plumbing over I would not trust epoxy for 30 years, and I agree that sweating/soldering would be the real way to go on that job, easier too I'm sure. I guess what I'm asking is if anyone else has used this epoxy product on copper pipe and has seen it stand the test of time? 3 years anyways, ha.

I'll google up some leak alarm info when I get a chance and see what's out there, maybe a new water heater down the road will have a built in auto-shut off leak detector.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg: You shuddered to think what would have happened had you not caught the leak before going to bed. Well, that's exactly what could happen with your epoxy fix, and in my experience it will pick the worse possible time to blow out, like on the first night after you left for a 2-week vacation.

It sounds like it is an easy and cheap fix to do it right -- probably cheaper than buying leak detectors. If you're not comfortable with using a torch, you can cut out the bad section and replace it with some solder-less fittings. I'm also a big fan of epoxy. I've seen it do some amazing stuff, but would never rely on it if I didn't have to.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Just to be extra safe, I'd wrap it in chewing gum.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

"Hi Jake, by being a big fan of epoxy I take it that it's ok with you?"

That would be an "absolutely not".

Don't bother with the alarm. Fix the thing right.

If you think anyone will tell you that you have a 3 year fix, you are mistaken. There is no way to predict that.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Ok folks, thanks for the feedback and humor too, ha. But no one really answered my question as to whether they have used the epoxy and have known it to last on a fix ok for at least 3 years. So Jake, I'm not looking for a prediction, only an experience with it, like if someone else here used expoxy a few years ago and it still works on the fix.

And Matt, when I go on any vacation I turn off the WH and the well pump, I may be ignorant but I'm no dummy ;o)
Thanks again to you all!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg- the point about the epoxy is... who cares whether someone has used it and it worked. Conditions might not be the same, the product might not be the same, or you might not have mixed it in the right proportions. All of these, like everyone else mentioned, could/will lead to a nasty surprise down the road.

Why everyone is so dismissive is that sweating a repair coupling really isn't that hard. And it probably will take much less time than you've spent asking about the epoxy here. We're talking 20 minutes, max.

So buck up, fix your pipe the right way, then sleep easy.

Also, I'm not sure why you think you're going to have to switch to PEX to run your pressure up to 60 psi. That's a pretty typical pressure downstream from a PRV on city water for probably millions of homes across the country.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

For what it's worth, I had very minimal experience sweating copper, and I just repaired a similar problem to what you are describing.

My sister's house had a leak right above the hot water on an elbow which led to the expansion tank. I told her "no problem". So now I was committed, and then became a bit apprehensive.

Anyway, I confronted my fear and here's what happened: I turned the heater (it's a gas one) down to "vacation" setting". Then attached a short hose to the tank and drained part of the system and tank into the floor drain. As someone suggested, I first left the feed "on", just in case the valve would be clogged - and then shut off the feed valve once I got it running. But I did this just a little and then decided instead to "save water" and leave it in the tank. I decided instead to let water run out of the house "hot" taps, since there was one in a nearby bathroom that was lower than the tank top. (this was a mistake I soon found out).

So I opened the "hot" faucets in the house, including one nearby that was lower than the top of the tank. I thought that when the water stopped, the line would be clear and I would be fine.

Then I lit the old propane torch....and almost lit my hand on fire. Scared the heck out of me. Oops - it wasn't screwed on tight enough, which caused the flame to catch a side leak on the bottle. Then I torched the elbow...and learned that it's necessary to have pliers handy to pull the joint apart. So I heated, but it wouldn't budge....so I heated more and more...still wouldn't budge. And then, as I was heating, and with my gloved hand that was holding the pipe I suddenly felt a "glug glug" in the pipe. Yikes! Apparently a little air lock held some water in the expansion tank. Oops! Maybe still too much water in there!

So now I drained more water, this time out of the hot water TANK into the floor drain so I'd be sure it was out.

Then when I heated the fitting, it came part with some simultaneous tapping from the wrench. While it's hot, remove the fitting completely.

I let the opened pipe drain and dry.

Then I cleaned and fluxed. I replaced with a new 3/4 elbow instead of trying to clean the old one. I heated the fitting on one side as I touched the solder on the opposite side. When solder flowed, I took off the flame, touched some more solder around the fitting sides (kind of sloppy), and that was it.

Filled the system. Leave the taps open until you get the air out.

Checked for leaks. And breathed a big sigh of relief when I was it didn't leak.

Took me about an hour.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Thanks thull, asumming I mixed it right and applied it correctly then that's all I'm asking, if it'll work for 2-3 years under the right application. As for the PEX, maybe I didn't word the reasoning right - my present copper pipes are near 30 years old on an acidic well water source and has nothing to do with pressure. The problem there is old pipes needing to be replaced and I want to be rid of the green stains and metallic tasting water via pipe leach. My neighbor converted over to PEX a few years ago and he now raves about the water quality. The pressure problem is of course another matter dealing with the pump but I'm leaving it be until new pipes are in place as it's sufficient pressure for now. Believe me, I would not use epoxy except that this was a quick fix and a short term deal. But I do understand everyone's concern here and appreciate the feedback, if I had all the sweating supplies at hand and the talent to do it I would have gone that route, but again this was just a quick fix and a question after the fact, my bad. Thanks again!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

oops, thank you too homebound for your experience (i missed your post before mine, caught it in my email later).

Well it's been full week since the epoxy fix and all is still a-ok, not a drop of water to be seen and all seals are still dry. If there is a future incident resulting from expoxy failure I'll resurrect this thread to let you know....

BTW, I googled up this picture below of the epoxy product that I used. A word of advice though, not recommended for a big job as you have 5 minutes at best to work with the stuff before it's too stiff to use. Also once the parts are together it's best to be able to rotate them 360 degrees for a complete seal, so practice first on dry parts to see if this "twist" is doable, esp on the last joint in place. Otherwise soldering is the way to go, and is in any event for the long term.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

For those of us who are Plumbers the answer is simple;

1. The Epoxy is not ASTM(American Society of Testing and Materials) approved for use on potable water.
2. The Epoxy is not Code approved.

If a homeowner wants to risk the health of their family or the structural integrity of their own system, that is their business but do so with the understanding that should a failure occur and your insurance company was to discover the failure resulted from a non approved condition they may not pay your claim.

Since the joint in question in the original post is in an exposed location the two code approved options are:
1.Solder the pipe.
2.Use a compression union.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Lazypup,

This may be off topic, but what's your word on shark bite fittings?


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

In my humble opinion "Shark bite Fittings" fall into the same category as the Epoxy. Why bother?

It is true that "Shark bite Fittings" have recently been accepted under both the Uniform Plumbing Code and the International Residential Code however as a rule it generally takes a year or two before the state and local codes catch up. Now assuming for the moment that they are code approved in your location I have to ask myself, what is the advantage?

The manufacturer claims a substantial time savings but when you consider that it takes the same amount of time to fit the pipe and clean the outside diameter as you would for soldering the only time savings is the difference between pushing the fitting on or the actual process of soldering, but then with a little practice soldering takes less than 20 second per fitting, so where is the great time savings?

I ran a search for shark bite fittings online and the best price I found for a 1/2" 90 elbow was $7.90 each + SH. By contrast a solder type 90deg elbow is $.35 to $.40 at any hardware store.

Shark Bite Fittings are also approved for use on PEX tubing and in this instance I can see an advantage to the homeowner. With the shark bite fitting you can make a code approved repair without the necessity of buying the PEX crimpers at $125 for each size of pipe but for copper there are no expensive specialty tools required.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Re: Photo of epoxy tubing connection:

Wow I found it on the internet, so it must be true!

vgkg -- You have multiple people telling you just to do it right. In the time that you have spent trying to justify the bogus repair you could have re-plumbed the entire house.

If you couldn't borrow them, the basic tools to do this job would probably cost you less than $50. If you didn't want to add to your tools and knowledge, you could hire a plumber for probably less than $100


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I feel a need to respond to that Jake, I assume you're looking for one?
First off, thanks for the "opinions" of the epoxy. And no, I did not find it on the internet I found it in the plumbing dept at Lowes right next to the soldering materials. If you read through my posts I was specifically looking for experiences with epoxy to see if anyone here had actually used it and if they were satisfied or not. Judging from all the replies thus far No One has had experience with epoxy but are quick to criticize it without ever using it. So No, I'm not going to do a soldering re-do job because so far it has worked as advertised, it's a very tough/tight spot to work within, and quiet frankly I trust my 10" worth of epoxied fittings much more than I trust the remaining 200' of very old copper pipes running through the house. As previously stated, I will be ripping out all of this out in 2-3 years and will be replacing with PEX and a new WH.
And Lazypup, thanks for the warning and I will check that out, but we don't consume hot water for drinking or cooking purposes, mainly due to the 30 YO WH and the crud that is surely in there blocking the drain valve.

Now that being said, if there is an epoxy failure (or not) I shall return to let you all know and will then be the "expert" on using epoxy so then I will give an experienced opinion and/or warnings on it's use.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

There are very few places in construction that any type of adhesive is allowed as anything more than a supplemental thing.
The vagaries of field installation are just to great.
Ask the Boston Turnpike authority (falling ceiling panels from poor epoxy binding, killed one person).
The use of adhesives for glulam, i-joists, etc. and other structural beams occurs in factories with QC and careful control.
You can add glue to drywall for support, but it only reduces the screw schedule, not eliminates the screws.
I have used various epoxies in aerospace applications for many years.
We have stringent date control and testing of every batch, and require the assembly of extra joints on each job for destructive testing to verify the material and workmanship.

Solder is cheap and easy.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

You can lead a horse to water....


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

....but you can't make him sweat.

But I do understand his point that he simply wanted to know more about epoxy. I'd be curious to see how long it lasts, as well.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Thank You Homebound - I take a solemn oath to come back here and eat a load of crow if this quick fix epoxy job fails to hold up before I can replace the entire system in 2-3 years....and I'll also come back to say if it did hold up for that period of time.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

No problem, vgkg,

I actually went through similar ridicule recently on a completely unrelated topic - climate change. All I was trying to do was ask a few questions and learn about the underlying facts, basis for scientific consensus, etc. Geez, talk about a "hot" topic for some folks. I was even labeled "anti-science"!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

If you're talking about the Hot Topics forum over at gardenweb (on global warming) I understand completely.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Ridicule? You came here asking "I'm just wondering what you experts think of it for the short/long term?" and every single one of us told you it is not a good idea.

It's pretty obvious you already made up your mind and were only looking for information or opinions that backed your pre-existing view. Why waste our time if you are just going to ignore the advice? I just don't get it.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg,

When I was moving the location of my washing machine two years ago, I was able to solder up most of the connections on the bench, but had to install the assembled pieces in a location that was behind a dozen or so wires, including a couple of honking big 6-3 cables going to the air handler of the heat pump. I really didn't want to melt the insulation off the wires and have to replace them. So I used the "Copper Bond" brand epoxy (from Lowes) for those last few joints.

My experience was for the simple joints (an elbow onto a pipe) it was quick and easy, and none of those joints have leaked. For one joint that I had use a stopless coupling between two existing pipes, it did not work so well, and the joint dripped slightly after it was done.

Two years later and none of the "copper bond"-ed joints have had a problem.

Although since then in a Kitchen remodel for other joints in hard-to-torch locations, I've used the Sharkbite connectors.

-Bob


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I didn't use the word "ridicule" Matt but I can be stubborn that's fer sure. But I didn't come here to stir up any pot or waste anyone's time, just looking for others input who have past experience with epoxy. I have no doubt that soldering is superior to epoxy but my job was a done deal and I needed to know how other here faired doing a similar quick fix job.

Thanks Bob, that's exactly what I was looking for. Assuming that your water pressure is the normal 60psi I hope that my 42psi will allow my quick fix to last at least as long as your 2 year success. After that, all my plumbing is being replaced anyways. Going on 2 weeks here and still ok.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I used the word "ridicule". That's because I detected at least a little bit of fun at vgkg's expense.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Don't assume bob's epoxy results (or anyone else's) to be an indicator on the life of yours. You have acidic well water that attacks your copper pipes; heaven knows what that water can do to the epoxy. By the way, good idea to shut your washer valve off when you go away too. :o)


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Poor vgkg is enduring a bit of buffeting and turbulence on his quest for a quick fix. ;') Hang in there dude... even if your fix only lasts a year, you're that much farther down the road. Codeworthy or not, at least you used an epoxy DESIGNED for your purpose. (I would be curious as to whether the instructions say anything about adding fiberglass cloth or other high-strength cloth tape to the joint?) You're correct that low water pressure is your friend in this case.

Heck there's code-approved epoxies out there for anchoring bolts into concrete, and even in a straight cylindrical hole (i.e. withOUT conical undercutting), an overload will pull out the surrounding chunk of concrete before the epoxy lets go! (Not sure what the deal was on "the Big Dig" in Boston... I'm guessing political/union corruption was at fault, not polymer science.)

I too avoided sweat-solder repairs, until I was facing a big re-model, and finally sat down with some practice pipe and fittings, and figured out that it was fairly easy, fairly satisfying, and made me taller and more handsome to boot! (Or was that the toolbelt she was talkin' 'bout? LOL.)

That ACIDIC well-water is a real bugger. 30 years life out of copper sounds good in that situ... even with PEX, what does the pH do to metal faucets and fixtures? Always wondered if there was a simple conditioner to add a LITTLE calcium, magnesium, etc., to bring the pH to less harmful levels...???

RE: Shark-bite fittings, lazypup said it. Also, what's with these copper fittings that have solder pre-embedded in them? WTF, over? Aside from the fact that you're losing some overlap surface, thus getting a weaker joint, what *IS* the upside? Don't have to carry that "heavy" roll of solder around?


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

those pre soldered fitting are geared to DIy's to help insure the right amount of solder gets to the right place in the joint.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hey fixizin, yep hanging in here ok.
Your mentioning of "That ACIDIC well-water is a real bugger. 30 years life out of copper sounds good in that situ... even with PEX"

Does PEX not stand up under acidic well water conditions? I know that metals don't but not PEX either? Anyone have knowledge of the expected lifetime of PEX even on neutral water (pH=7)? much less pH of 6? I may be considering a water treatment system of some sort if PEX has it's faults on well water.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

fixizin- the issue with epoxy anchors is that if you don't do a good job of cleaning the hole out after drilling, or if you don't mix the epoxy right, you don't get a good bond to the concrete. Ditto on epoxy for copper- mix it wrong or if there's something in there to act as a bond breaker (dust in concrete, maybe oil in a copper fitting), and it's more likely to fail.

And I still side with the view that you gotta be mule-a**-stubborn to spend 5x the time it'd take to do the job right, writing here on THS defending something questionable.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Many will argue that PEX Tubing is impervious to acidic water conditions and they are correct in that statement BUT! It must be remembered that on the fixture end of every PEX line there is a copper transition stub out fitting that is made from the same type L copper as would be used to plumb the house with copper thus a PEX system subject to the same problems as would be a complete copper system.

In my humble opion if there is anything in your water that would be detrimental to a piping system I have to ask myself what are the long term health effects of using that water? Would it not make more sense to consider a water treatment system to correct the problem rather than hunt for a pipe that would tolerate it?

Now in regards to the Epoxy for copper.

Most people would not consider using an electrical device if it failed to get UL(Underwriters Laboratory) approval.

In the Plumbing and HVAC Industries we have a number of independant testing agencies that perform the same level of product testing as does the UL in the electrical trade and no product is granted code approval until it passes muster with the experts, but sadly in Plumbing the only approval that most home owners seem to feel necessary is the opion of the stock clerk in the hardware store, of course tomarrow they will rely upon that same level of expertise to recommend structural materials, lawn fertilizer, pesticides or housewares, depending upon which section of the store that clerk happens to be working in for the day. Of course, in todays society many homeowners do require a bit more concise approval before they use an unknown product of questionable quality, they post on the internet, and if they get feedback from two or three others who have previously been suckered into trying the product they are confident it must be good to go.

Fortunately, as a Plumber I am not confronted with all those delema's. I simply rely upon using code approved materials and methods knowing that in order to achieve code approval the product had to pass muster with such agencies as:

ASTM (American Society of Testing & Materials)
ASSE -(American Society of Sanitary Engineers)
NSF - (National Standards Foundation)
CSA -(Canadian Standards Assoc)
ICC -International Code Council (The ICC now includes the ICBO- International Conference of Building Officials & the SBCCA- Southern building Code Conference Assoc)
ASHRAE -(American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers)
IAMPO-International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
BSC- California Building Standards Commission
UL (Underwriter Laboratories...(Yes folks...UL tests mechanical devices as well as electrical devices)
NFPA- National Fire Protection Assoc.

The advantages of relying upon using code approved materials and techniques are:
1.I can sleep good at night instead of worry about whether that scab job might hold up.
2.If the product does fail I am not faced with lawsuits for using substandard materials.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I got curious about what can undermine CU pipes after reading this thread and found this link with more info about Cu pipes, how they can corrode and health issues -
http://www.plumbingworld.com/cuno_info_page.html.

Scroll down to the news article about 2 people getting sick in Wisconsin - reads like an episode of "House".

Bill


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Your mentioning of "That ACIDIC well-water is a real bugger. 30 years life out of copper sounds good in that situ... even with PEX"

Does PEX not stand up under acidic well water conditions? I know that metals don't but not PEX either?

Sorry about my sloppy use of ellipses and commas. What I meant was the PEX is fine with acidic water, but as pointed out more clearly by lpup, you still have copper stub-out collars and brass faucets/hose bibs/fixtures at the end of each PEX run, which are exposed to the acidic water.

I guess it would be unwise for the marketing dept. to call my hypothetical(?) water conditioner a "WATER HARDENER"... after all the decades that the majority of folks have been pursuing softeners, lol.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Fixizin,

Its not hypothetical at all. Its called a water neutralizer. I have one installed in my water system. Its about 12 inches in diameter and about 5 feet tall, and basically it is filled with either large sand sized particles of marble (CaCO3) or a mixture of CaCO3 and magnesium (IIRC) depending of the pH of the water.

Furthermore you are right that it is essentially a water hardener. My untreated water is something like 6.0 pH and 0 grains per gallon. After the neutralizer the pH is about 7.1 (os so) and 7 grains per gallon.

Some of the copper pipes that I have removed that have been there since before the neutralizer was in place have walls so thin that I can crush the pipe flat with my fingers. Scary.

-Bob


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

This is a little off topic, but I have a slightly different question about replumbing and epoxy. I have been thinking of replumbing my home, but am put off by the immensity of the undertaking. I was researching the topic on the internet and came upon the company Curaflo. They advocate lining your old pipes with epoxy. I was pretty impressed with what I read. They offer a ten year warranty--including damage caused by any leak--and appear to be a national chain. They have done some large commercial jobs. There are quite a few links concerning this process. The homepage of the company is:

http://www.curaflo.com/CuraFlo

I was wondering if any of you knowledgable folk had an opinion on this.

bj


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

bj, that was an interesting site/read. If you get an estimate on pricing your home's plumbing job via this company do let us know. What I hope to do in 2-3 years is to install PEX myself but your way sounds much easier :) but just wondering about the cost?


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg - No matter what you have been told my the DIY guys, you will regret using an epoxy. I have personally gone out on numerous emergency service calls fixing epoxy repairs. "But Mr. plumber, the package said it would work!"


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg,

I am seriously thinking of moving forward on this. If I do, I will let you know what the estimate is. They say it is less than traditional plumbing and better, but it is not a do it yourself option. There appear to be three main companies doing this work, but I can only remember Curaflo and Duraflo. The third company has done a lot of work for the U.S. Navy, The Navy has used the epoxy lining on the duct work in ships to protect them from the caustic seawater. They have also used it in their shore facilities. If I come across that link again, I will post it here. I am still busy reading everything about the process that I can find.

bj


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hello VeggieKing,

I remember you from my days at the Tomato forum. Hope you have been well.

All I can tell you is that I repaired a leaky radiator on my 1976 Pinto with epoxy. It held for years, actually outlasted the car itself. I don't need to tell you what all the "experts" thought of it at the time.

While the pro plumbers made some good points above, here are some I see on the other side of the coin:

1. You bought a product from a reputable retailer that is specifically designed for your purpose.

2. You likely put more care and skill into using it than the average user.

3. You watched it for several days and no leaks. It is apparently working. There is no credible data that suggests the repair will deteriorate significantly in the 3 years you need it to last.

4. It is only one of hundreds of possible leak points that could develop in your (or anyones) aged plumbing system.

5. Every plumbing problem I've ever had in my home came from "code approved" materials and processes that were installed by professional plumbers. They are not sacred.

6. In the big scheme of things it's just one tiny risk among the many we face everyday (like driving to work).

Sleep well!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hi Conrad, nice to "see" you again too. It's rare that I visit the Tomato forum these daze. Thanks for the input, the epoxy fix is still dry as a bone here after 1 month (seems much longer, only ~24-35 months to go - ha!) so I am sleeping well now. Good Gardening to ya!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Bumping this one back up again to make an addition comment. No, the epoxy repair job has not failed (yet). I've come back to say that last week the incoming cold water pipe to my old water heater sprung a leak, it was the pipe right next to the outgoing hot water pipe that I epoxied 3 months ago. Luckily it was a slow drip and I just happened to peek into the WH closet and found it. Since I still had the epoxy supplies on hand I went ahead and fixed it in the same manner. After one week it looks as good as the other quick fix. Now if only these two fixes (and the rest of the plumbing) will hold on for another 2 years :o)


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

The Copper-Bond Adhesive meets the potable water requirement, it is rated for such application. If this is not true, the company making this would have been sued by now, and the class action lawsuit attorneys would have been millionaires. So I believe that their statement in the label that it can be used for potable water is certifiable and true, and if you don't think that it is so, you can become a millionaire by suing them. Perhaps they have been sued, but the plaintiffs lost and so the product is still happily in the market.

It really works! I've tried other adhesives such as those for Just-for-copper brands, but the one shown by vgkg is the one to buy.

I helped a friend setup a distiller to extract oils and essences from lemon grass, also for water purification. We have a reflux condenser column made of 3" copper. Because of the rough handling of their travel, the solder always cracks and develop leaks. We have repaired the pipes several times and because of frequent assembly and disassembly, it always developed cracks and leaks at the solder joint and we have tried several types of solder already to no avail. So we tried the Just-for-copper bond but that one quickly melted away when the temperature on the pipe got too hot, like around 325 deg F, the temperature of the oil that we sometimes process. Then we tried the Copper-Bond adhesive with skepticism, but this one survived the 325 deg F temperature. Todate, more than a couple years, there is not a leak on the reflux column. It's strength is superior as it is not prone to cracking due to metal fatigue when there is alternating high and low temperature combined with mechanical stresses that is the main weakness of sweat solder joints.

Last weak, my other friend tried to install a water softener. It is almost impossible to solder in a very tight place without dismantling the wall, but somehow we managed to solder the elbow that is going up. But everytime we connect the softener itself (the plastic plug-in adapter at the back) we need to lift the softener up, align the adapter and place them in, but in so doing, it disturbs the elbow down below. Then the soldered elbow develop crack at the joint and it leaks. We retried the solder method, and it took us about the whole weekend and have to retry 3 times with the same related problem.

Then I remembered my left-over Copper-bond adhesive from 2-years ago which I stashed inside two layers of ziploc bags. So we removed those soldered elbow fittings, bought a new set of fittings cleaned them up and then used the Copper-bond adhesive that is about a couple years old. And it is still pliable and usable. So we used that, then connect to the water softener, and no leaks! We have to disconnect and reconnect the water softener several times for other unrelated pipe problems with the elbow suffering from various mechanical stresses, and still no leaks!

Although I love to solder a lot as I really don't like to use glue (gets messy on me all the time), I would use that product again in tight spots. It is even rated for fire sprinkler system application.

I would make it the greatest copper, brass epoxy of them all for the same price range.

If you think that the product is not safe for water and you have verifiable scientific data to back it up, then you can be a millionaire by filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer. This is a country driven by frivolous lawsuit mostly, so if the company has survived it, then it must be true that it is suited safe for potable water use.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Joe, thanks for the info on the high temp as it is the epoxied hot water pipe that worries me the most. Seeing as how my hot water is around 125F (or so) your 325F makes mine look like kool-ade. Also glad to know that it holds up well under flexing and movement as my well pump tends to make the pipes rattle at times too.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

You're welcome Veggie King!

This morning, I learned from my friend that the water softener passed the city's inspection with flying colors. He checked the code ratings of the product and including usage for potable water and approved it. The city engineer actually flexed the softener so as to stress the tubings and then checked to see if there are cracks or leaks in the joints, and found not a single drop!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

UPdate :

Well after one full year the epoxied connections are still holding up well, no leaks etc. All I ask for is just one more year until I replace all the cooper pipes with PEX or similar product. Fingers crossed :)


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I'm Baaaack! :)

Just thought that you guys & gals could use a good laugh today. No, the 2 epoxy fixes that I did last year haven't failed (yet), but yesterday I found a leak in the ceiling right under the upstairs bathroom floor - UGH! When I got home around 4:30 nothing was amiss, but about an hour later the water was trickling down the wall and dripping through the ceiling plaster. It looked as if it had just started as the floor was dry and the wall was only half trickled down. After checking the upstairs bathroom and seeing it was dry I immediately laid out a tarp downstairs and hammered out a sq ft of ceiling to see what's up. A pinhole leak was found right in the middle of a "T" copper connection where the bathroom sink and toilet share a cold water line - UGH! again.

After shutting off the water (which isn't easy to do in this old house, on well water) I realized that this won't be an easy job to fix. The pipe is so close to the surrounding wood that a tube cutter cannot fit around the pipe at any of the 3 angles. A mini-hacksaw isn't any help either due to the tight space. So, you can probably already guess what I did. Yep, after drying and cleaning up the T fitting (brushed the copper shinny all around the pinhole) I used the epoxy to coat the "T" all around the outside surface outside and tried to force some into the tiny pinhole as a plug. Once it "set" I turned the water back on and it didn't leak. This morning it was still dry, no drips. A temp fix at best I know.

Here's my questions for you smart folks, and any guesses are Welcome and Appreciated.

1) Is there any tool or method available to cut out the "T" in this tight space? I believe that it could be heated up and removed once the old solder melted, is that right? I'm reluctant to do this due to the wood location and I cannot apply flame to all sides of the "T" but only 1 side. But if this would work is there a way to protect the wood from the flame?

2) My plans haven't changed as I will replace the whole house plumbing in about 6 months from now. Anyone care to guess if this quick epoxy fix would last until then? One saving grace of this house (in this case it's a grace) is that the water pressure ranges from 23 - 42 psi (tops) and I could stop that leak with one finger. The epoxy is as hard as nails so will not dissolve away and hopefully not be undermined over time.

Now ya see, I knew you'd get a chuckle out of this ;o)


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

When existing methods work well, all new methods go through a long period of time when they are not trusted.

It happened to copper too. For years it was deemed new and experimental.

To answer the original question, sometime within the average lifespan of the average reader we will know how well epoxy works to seal pressurized copper over the long term. Today we may hear of people with installations that succeeded so far or that failed, and then... whether or not the failure was due to this or that will be hard to determine over the internet or with eyeballs on site.

David


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

V-king, thanks for all the updates, and even though I'm Mr. Sweat-Solder, I'm glad the epoxy method you're comfortable with is working out.

And if other posters didn't make it clear, allow me:

0) Is this epoxy you like "Copper-Bond" brand by Noble, aka "the Original Super-Glue Corporation"?

1) YOU NEED A WATER *(pH)NEUTRALIZER* like YESTERDAY! Certainly you need to have it installed between your well and potable water entrance before you spend a penny on ANY NEW plumbing! Re-read posts about how PEX systems still include vulnerable metal fittings.

2) Should read the link above about copper-poisoning, then... GET THAT NEUTRALIZER, like YESTERDAY! LOL...

As for heat-shielding to protect wood/drywall/etc. from the torch flame, I like using a thin piece of Hardi-plank; it's made of lightwt. concrete, so it's pretty much impervious to a propane flame, at least for the short periods req'd.

If you have a space that's SO tight/convoluted that you need a FABRIC type heat shield, I believe they are available from plumbing supply shops... can't remember the trade name. Alternately, you could use some sheet metal.

I could NEVER sleep in your "time bomb" situation, knowing every time I wake up or come home, $12k in damage could be waiting for me. <:O I guess I'd have a whole-house ball valve, and have it shut OFF most of the time.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hi Davidro1 & Fixizin !
Thanks a bunch for the feedback. Yes it does seem that I am "the experiment" for this crazy @ss scheme but for the time being I have little choice but to do what I have done. You are so right David that time will tell and all I'm asking father time for is about 6-8 more months at most for this obviously flawed and temporary fix. As mentioned previously the 2 fixed on the water heater have held up well for the past year or so and I'm not really worried about them. And so far it's only been 1 week but the other epoxyed quick fix hasn't leaked a drop (knock-on-wood) as the ceiling hole is still exposed and I'm watching it closely. If it does fail it'll most like be a slow drip for a while so it'll be easy to catch early. I will do some cosmetics for that area and install a make shift trough to funnel any drips from that T fitting to an easy to detect spot. Hopefully it'll hold until next summer when I can rip it all out to replace whole house.

Thanks too Fixizin for the tips on soldering in tight spaces and the warnings about metal fitting in replubing with pex or similar product. Our well pH is 6 which isn't too bad but bad enough. The present copper plumbing was installed about 30 years ago and as you well know it's the joint fitting like the T and L turns that go first. The interior of the present pipes look good and still thick and I can read "L" as to the better thickness on them (is it really true that the joint fittings are all "M", the thinner pipe?). If so who's bright idea was that?

I will look into a neutralizing unit for sure. And don't get me wrong, by using this expoxy quick fix I surely ain't knocking solder! If I were to change my mind and go with whole house copper then solder/sweating is definitely the way to Go!
BTW - yes, it is the Noble brand of copper bond expoxy, and I'm guessing that it has many years to go as the jury is still out for it's long term effectiveness, but I ain't gonna be the lab rat on these temp fixes but for a few more months ;o)

As for copper poisoning, we have continuously used one of those Brita-type carbon filters at the sink for any drinking purposes. And yes, I know what you mean about sleeping at nite, so far someone up there likes me and if the remaining fittings throughout the house can just hold on for a few more months.......


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A different Epoxy-related question

I have a copper Tee "in the ground". It is inside a buried sprinkler box, but it collects mud and roots and has to get cleaned out every year or two. The Tee is one year old and has sprung a pinhole leak on an inside radius.

The box contains a ball valve and drain for one of the city water supply lines for my house (splits into 3 downstream of the water meter, and each feed into the house has its own shutoff): 3/4 inch ball valve, followed by a Tee that has a draincock so the house lines can be drained. The pinhole leak is on one inside radius on the side of the Tee, where the draincock is sweated on. Just over one year ago, I cut out the original assembly and built/installed a new one, as the original valve handles and stems were badly rusted away. I sweated the assembly in the kitchen, and then did the 2 end joints below ground. The Tee and draincock are turned to be horizontal, so the bottom of the drain is below the bottom of the feed. It was the first copper plumbing work I'd done in decades, but it held.

Recently, when I needed to rebuild a leaking bathroom faucet, we went to turn off this valve and found the box full of water and (after bailing and turning the supply back on) found the leak.

This box is in close quarters in a flowerbed, and of course the box itself doesn't leave much room to work. I turned off the feed valve, opened the draincock, shut off the inlet to the WH, and opened the inside faucets to allow all the water to drain out. Two plumber friends told me that they had fixed these in the field by soldering over the hole. FWIW, I also wondered if I could have created the problem when I built the assembly, but they both said it was likely a defective fitting.

We cleaned the problem area of the Tee, but I couldn't get any solder to adhere, so I think we probably didn't get it clean enough and we need to do it again. There is also so much standing on my head involved that I don't want to be making attempt after attempt at this.

So... If this is really a matter of just cleaning more carefully and it should be solder-repairable, then I'll give it another go. But, if a solder repair would be considered questionable anyway, I think I'd like to try Epoxy before I move on to digging out the box and cutting out the assembly. (I did not originally leave enough pipe between the valve and the Tee to just cut out the Tee - I'll have to rebuild that side). What do you gentlemen have to say?


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hell-o again folks - long time no see.

At the library today (no internet at home now) and thought that I'd dig up this old thread and give you all an update. The 3+ year old (now) epoxy fixings are still holding up a-ok even though I have fallen a bit behind on my plans to replace all of the old copper with pex. That project is now planned for next spring. I did do another epoxy "fix" in the crawlspace under the kitchen area last year, it was a slow drip that I discovered accidently when under there for other matters. This drip was apparently from a copper pipe that was previously frozen as it had a slight bulge and crack in it.

So, just a quick hello and update to let you know it's still working after 3 years.
Hope all is well with the rest of you.

Chow fer now, vgkg


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I wish you luck with your epoxy patch, but I have my doubts.
About 3 years after I bought my house, the annual termite inspection reported "water on wood under bathroom". I investigated, and found, sure enough, water dripping from the subfloor. I removed a section of drywall and found the leak; the previous owner had remodeled the bathroom and either (1) attached an angle fitting on copper pipe, or (2) repaired a leak at that angle fitting, with epoxy. The epoxy did not stand up, and eventually leaked.
I removed the fitting, cleaned it and the pipe ends, and sweat-soldered it. That was 24 years ago. Still holding tight.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

For the benefit of vgkg, I used the very same Copper Bond purchased at Lowes eleven years ago to make pretty much the same types of repairs you made on your water heater. In my case I moved my water heater from smack in the middle of the attic to a spot closer to the side to provide more storage room. I had never used Copper Bond but decided to test it out since the water heater was in an easily accessible walk-in an attic above my garage. All the joints are exposed and easily acessible, plus even a catastrophic failure wouldn't be likely to do a large amount of damage in that location. After eleven years I am now replacing the water heater but the Copper Bond has peformed flawlessly and was used on several joints for hot, cold, and T&P runoff. I should also note that several of the joints are copper to brass.

Five years after that original repair I used Copper Bond to replace the valve box for the washer in my laundry room. The SOLDERED cold water joint had failed only six years after original construction. My epoxy fix is now six years old and going strong. Again, a leak in the laundry room wouldn't be a killer for me.

So, my experience has been good and I would certainly be comfortable using epoxy in pretty much any situation. I'm happy to sweat joints too but I trust the epoxy just as much. Like anything, a lot of it depends on the care you use putting the joint together and whether you properly prepare the joint and follow the epoxy instructions.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

I used epoxy to do an entire section of my house and it has lasted over 14 years. It is the same brand as shown, Copper Bond. Also, for those who don't "believe" in the epoxy repair as opposed to sweating a joint, consider this, I am a stone mason and we routinely put stones and anchors in place (some have been overhead) with epoxy and in the 40 years I have been using it I have never had a failure. Started using Fasco #2 about 20 years ago and now use it for everything. Sweating a joint is good but epoxy is just as good.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

"...we routinely put stones and anchors in place (some have been overhead) with epoxy and in the 40 years I have been using it I have never had a failure. "

You should advise the Boston 'big dig.'

They have already killed one person.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Hi Folks!
I've been away for a while since posting this thread, thanks to ALL for your feedback on expoxy experiences. Just too update you on my experience - my epoxied fixes have done well over the past 4 years with no leaks or other failures. My plans to replumb the entire house system have been on hold while I'm working on an addition to the house. I pexed the addition (laundry room, full bath, and mini-kitchen) and it was fairly easy to do, once done I'll pex the rest of the house and rip out the old copper along with the expoxied parts.

So in summary, no expoxy problems on my end, and 2 of these expoxy fixes were just plugging pin hole leaks (not recommended!!!), but they are holding a-ok after 4 years. Should have new pex installed by the end of this year....I hope :)
Chow fer now, vgkg


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Thanks vgkg for following up on a regular basis.

I remodeled my main bathroom in July 2007 and re-worked a bit of the plumbing while I was at it. I used solder/flux for most of the joints, but for a couple that would have been near impossible to do w/o burning the house down, I opted for the epoxy. I too found it at Lowes next to the regular soldering supplies. I was a little apprehensive at first so I waited a week or two to put up the backer board, all the while leaving the water pressure on full (with a plug where the shower goes, of course).

Here I am almost 4 1/2 years later with no leaks and no problems. Just wanted to throw my experience out there for any other curious DIYers.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

You're welcome Dave. Glad you brought this back up because over the next month I will be replacing (FINALLY) the old copper pipes in the old home. As of this date I have 7 epoxy "fixes" on the old pipes. No doubt the copper is like tin foil in some spots so I can't put this off any longer. A lucky dog I have been as each leak has been caught early without any damage. I highly recommend those leak detectors one can buy at home improvement stores, easy to place next to any questionable pipe areas for early detection. The new plumbing will be pexed just like the addition I built. Chow


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Just one final update on this saga.....

After almost 5 years now the several epoxy "fixes" have held their ground and no leaks have occurred, and over time this has amounted to 8 fixed leaks with epoxy. If my timing goes well all my old copper pipes will be replaced with pex (after years of delay) by the end of the week....a solo job with wife's help...and patience :)
My daze with epoxy are over, it served me well...the end.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

another perfect example of the value of conventional wisdom and "expert" opinion.
notice that at first you got way more answers from the "expert"s than actual testimony, all of them saying that it doesn't work and it's toxic and blah blah blah. only ONE of them offered any actual experience of epoxy plumbing, and that was of repairing work that other people had done.
and none of them bothered to reply to any of the genuine testimonials you received.
plumbers in particular are very good at lying to customers just to make more money. i heard one plumber say that Drano will actually solidify inside and CLOG up the pipes.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Ha, you never know what's gonna pop up in the in-box, thought this thread wouldn't be resurrected. But since I'm here, update --- my pexing job turned out very nicely, no leaks or problems after 8 months. Easy to do except in tight spots, as is everything. Happy plumbing to all.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

vgkg

I think you were ahead of your time. I couldn't help but laugh at all the naysayers that were mocking your for using epoxy.
Our neighborhood has had a rash of plumbing leaks. The plumber thinks it is due to all the chemicals the government mandates to treat our water that wasn't the case years ago.
He offers to replumb the whole house with PEX or to coat the whole copper system with epoxy. The cost is about the same, a little more for the PEX because of all the dry wall r&r. He said with an existing copper system the epoxy coating is the only sure way to prevent leaks. It's becoming more popular all the time and is well established.


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

Thanks so much for your post
I just discovered it at the time that I'm leaving copper for Pex
But for my probably final copper connection - it solved a big problem
Vertical line to hot water heater. Starts at ceiling and goes down. I soldered on a ball valve shutoff - no problem. Then when I tried to solder the length of pipe below it I got a bad joint. Broke when I tested it. Tried 3 times - same problem..Joint was not getting hot enuf to suck up enuf solder. Maybe 1/8 inch of connection - no strength. Same no matter how long I kept the torch on it and of course line was empty - no water above.
Tried this copper bond epoxy - 100% success first time - and so easy to use.

After the fact I think that the problem was that heat was being conducted up the pipe above the valve and valve takes a lot of heat to make it hot - unlike a simple coupling.

I now realize I probably could have done the job having my wife hold my second torch above the valve - and thus blocking the heat leak - but anyway - the epoxy worked great and thanks so much!


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RE: Opinions of Epoxy for copper pipes?

"genuine testimonials"

Because those are such a reliable way of evaluating plumbing methods.

I hear all the testing labs actually use them instead of pressure tests, repeated thermal cycles, and accelerated aging methods to determine long term reliability.

After all, it is just a pressurized residential water line.

How much damage could it do if it fails?


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