Possible broken return line

robrinker

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Aug 2, 2007
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Northeastern Ohio
#1
I recently noticed a patch of lawn, that is in a direct line from one of my returns, has gotten soggy. It also seems to dry up a bit when I'm not running my filter.

Am I correct in my assumption that I probably have a broken underground return pipe? How would one go about repairing something like that?
 

ric

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2007
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Ohio
#4
hi robrinker
i wouldnt dig yet untill sombody with equipment know how respondes. I am not shure but I think a multiport seal can cause this.
 

robrinker

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Aug 2, 2007
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#6
Well, I finally got started on this. Attached is a pic of what I found. As you can see the "T" on the left has it's right arm broken off. Any idea where I can get these things? Also, the complete "T" (on the right) has ridges on it's arm. How do I get the PVC off of the other two arms of the bad "T" so that I can replace it? I'm assuming the ridges make it quite difficult to pull the PVC off...
 

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cobra46

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May 31, 2007
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Rocklin, Ca
#7
Robrinker,

A plumbing supply store should sell barbed tee's. If you can't find one locally look at www.mcmaster.com. Type PVC pipe tees in the search window and you can drill down to exactly what you need. At the beginning of most sections of the catalog there is information about how to measure pipe and fitting sizes. Pipe and fittings do not measure as one would think. e.g. 1" pipe has an outside diameter 1.315in and the inside diameter changes depending on the schedule. To make matters more complicated, 1" tube does have a 1" outside diameter.

Mcmaster is not the cheapest place around but they have everything and you can order something at 4:00PM and get it the next day. I'm a mechanical engineer and use them regularly for R&D projects.

Best of luck,

Kevin
 

robrinker

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#8
Thanks for the info, Kevin. Interestingly, McMaster has an office about 30 mins from where I live.

Is there a trick to getting a pipe off of a barbed tee? I've pulled on these things firmly and don't seem to make any progress. I'm hesitant to apply any real pressure for fear of breaking something else.
 

cobra46

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May 31, 2007
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Rocklin, Ca
#9
It is usually quite difficult to pull tubing from a barbed fitting. Even 1/4" or 3/8" tube requires considerable force to pull it apart. It may be possible to crush the other two end of the tee to remove them. You may also try some heat to make the tube more flexible. Do you have a heat gun, torch or hair dryer?
 

waste

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Mar 29, 2007
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#11
Rob if you want some tips on playing with black poly pipe or if you'd like to know what and which fittings I'd use to make the fix, I'll gladly post them for you, but you may already have picked up or ordered what you're going to use and my suggestion would be to install sch 40 for the patch which I fear could spark a 'debate' of PVC vs black poly. Anywho, if you want the info, I will gladly provide it for you.

Good luck with the repair :)
 

robrinker

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#12
I haven't executed the fix yet, so I'd be happy to hear some suggestions. That's why I posted! :)

I'm assuming the black pipe in my pics is the black poly you are talking about? There's also a short piece of black pipe that runs between the two tee's in the pic that I removed. I was just planning on replacing the tee and re-using the black pipe that went between them (if I can get the broken off part of the tee out of it).

Although it's covered in the pic, the pipe at 11:00 in the pic has an elbow on it. I was thinking I'd need to dig up quite a bit behind the elbow and down the pipe to the left to get enough play in the pipes to get the connecting pipe back in between the two tee's.

This is my first experience with fixing plumbing, so any and all suggestions are welcome. I'd rather not inadvertently break anything else while trying to fix this.

I have the day off on Thursday, so weather permitting, that's when I'm planning on tackling this.
 

waste

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#13
Rob, you asked for it, so sit back with a cold drink and watch me make ~ 20 typos :lol: :

Let me start by saying that I am no fan of black poly! I think that a better/ more permanent seal is created with the chemical/ mechanical bond that PVC glue provides. However, sometimes you have no choice but to deal with the black poly. Black poly (bp from now on) is somewhat flexible so 45 deg fittings aren't often used, but 90 deg fittings are required to turn a corner, the flexablity can really help when in tight spots like you are.

OK, let's talk about making a bp connection - as you know, the fittings are barbed, this helps keep the fitting from pulling out and makes a watertight seal. However, to insure the seal, you need to clamp the pipe to the fitting. To facilitate the installation of the barbed fitting, you need to heat up the inside of the pipe, your propane torch is what I've always used (sorry if I used yours without permission :mrgreen: ) - the idea is to heat up the inside of the pipe enough so that it will 'mold' to the barbs. Evenly heat the inside of the pipe until the pipe will readily compress when squoze between thumb and forefinger about 1/4". then insert the barb. -- You need to put 2(!!) clamps on the pipe first (i'll talk about the clamps in a minute) -- If the pipe is soft enough, the barb will just slide in, otherwise you may have to apply a bit of pressure to get it fully into the pipe. You do not want to heat the pipe so much that it becomes formless slag :)

Clamps! - they keep the barb in the pipe and fully seal them. You want good quality clamps (wish I could tell you more, but the heavier the gauge of the steel and better quality of the 'screw mechanism' the longer they'll last) and you want to use 2 per connection. When you use the 2, have them ready (opened enough to easily slide onto the pipe) when you heat the pipe and install them before 'jamming' the barb in. The clamps should have the tightening nuts facing you on either side of the pipe (I wish I could post pictures at this point because that doesn't explain it -- if you have the 2 clamps facing you, held next to each other, both the nuts are in the same placement in your hand [ie, the nuts are next to each other and facing you - turn 1 of them 180 deg so that it still has the nut facing you, but on the opposite side of the pipe] {I hope you understand what I'm struggling to say}) When you tighten the nuts, tighten them enough to be hard to turn more, but don't force them, and then wait till the pipe cools down and give them another turn. (using the right sized 'nutdriver' really helps for this!)

Phwew! that was just the bp part, and I've barely gotten started :oops:


I would use flex pvc to make the repair. Similar in flexibility to the bp , but is glued into the pvc connections. To go this route, you will need to dig a little more, but you were suspecting that you'd need to anyway, and would also have to with the bp. If you go with pvc, you don't need to remove the old bp fittings, just cut the pipe 2" back from the existing fittings, though 4-5" would give you a little more 'room to move'. There is barbed fitting available that is sch 40 pvc and will accept a 1.5" pvc pipe, I think I can get the number if you need it, but that store talked about should have them. I would put 1 of these into every piece of bp, and use the glued flex pipe to make subsequent connections. Two 1.5" tees would complete the deal. Using the directions on the cans of pvc glue and primer, it's just a matter of making the final connection - the final connection should be the one with the longest run so that you have enough 'flex' in the pipe to do it.

I have not explained this as well as I would have liked - if someone else can help clarify, that'd be great! If you need some clarification from me, just ask

TRYING (probably unsuccessfully) to help :roll:
 

robrinker

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Aug 2, 2007
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#14
Thanks for the detailed post. Let me see if I understand...I'm not mechanically inclined, so I need to lay it out step-by-step

1. I should remove both tees shown in picture by cutting the BP between 2" to 5" beyond where the arms of the tee would extend.

2. Then I install adapters onto the 4 BP pipes that are barbed on one end and accepts PVC on the other.

3. I connect two normal PVC tees together with a short length of PVC that covers the open space in my pic, making sure the tees point in the right direction to connect to the adapters on the BP.

4. Finally, I connect the adapted BP pipes one by one to the PVC tees, connecting the one that has the most flex in it last.

Does that sound about right? Will I need 4 short lengths of PVC to connect the adapters to the tees?

If you could post the number for the barbed fitting to PVC, so I can make sure I get the right thing, that would be a big help.

Thanks!
 

waste

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Mar 29, 2007
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#15
Rob, you've got the gist of it! I'd attach the tees on both ends of the 'straight run' first, then the smaller pieces to the other 2 lines and finish up with the run between the 2 tees. As you plan on doing this tomorrow, I'll do a quick search for the part # now

Here's the website http://www.lascofittings.com/products/catalog/pdf/high-res/insertcatalog.pdf and the one (4) you want are 474-015.

I wish you well with the fix!
 

robrinker

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Aug 2, 2007
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#16
Woohoo!

I wasn't able to find the insert x slip fitting you posted the p/n for Waste. Everywhere I called and asked about it acted like I was speaking Chinese. I even went to the McMaster warehouse and they didn't have it!?

I ended up getting an insert x mipt fitting and then putting a fipt x slip onto it to accomplish the same thing. Not the finest PVC work ever, but so far, it's holding pressure with no leaks.

Thanks for your help and suggestions everyone!
 

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