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Old 09-01-2010, 08:32 PM  
TJ Carr
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Default Help....Broken Shower Pipe Thingie

Youngest girl child was taking a shower and the shower head/arm broke....

How in the world can I fix this...the pipe was plastic & is stuck inside the elbow behind the back of the shower...the pipe itself seems to be free standing, it's not attached to anything..and only a small closet/pantry behind that wall..

Tried backing it out with a screwdriver & that just chunked it, have been thinking about trying to dremmel it out...





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Old 09-01-2010, 10:22 PM  
Nestor_Kelebay
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Well, you've come to the right place.

Go to the store and buy an ordinary steel file.

Files will be slightly tapered so you want to get one that's about the ID of the pipe at it's end so that it will wedge into the plastic pipe fairly snug.

Then use a Crescent wrench to turn the file counter clockwise. As you do that, the hardened teeth of the file will dig into the plastic pipe and grip it, thereby unscrewing what's left of the plastic pipe.

If you say the shower elbow is free standing in the wall, then you're going to have to sneak a loop of copper wire over it so that you can pull the shower elbow forward while you jam the file into it.

But, if you can't get a file that fits well, you can use something called an "internal pipe wrench" which are made specifically for situations like you have:



The above three piece set is sold in Canada by Home Depot and is made by Brasscraft, the same company that makes the compression stops. I expect Home Depot in the US sells the same set, but I don't know for sure. They're fairly common, so you should be able to buy them in any city or town. I bought a set, and if I recall, they're about $15 or so. (Not expensive.) You just insert it into the pipe and twist counter clockwise and the eccentric wheel grips the ID of the pipe. You turn the pipe wrench and it turns the pipe.

In my case I was using it to remove the seats from a Crane T&S faucet. I found it was a bit hard to get the wrench to grip the inside diameter of the brass seat, but once it did, the tool worked well. You should have an easier time getting the wrench to grip the ID of a softer material like plastic.

Proto also makes an internal pipe wrench for about $5 called the "J142", and you can order it from whomever sells Proto tools in your area. This tool has a second threaded bolt sticking out the end, and I suspect the purpose of that bolt is to cause the eccentric wheel to stick out laterally to grip the ID of the pipe. I'd contact Proto and confirm. If that's what the bolt is for, then that's the internal pipe wrench I'd buy.

http://www.thefind.com/hardware/brow...-pipe-wrenches



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Old 09-01-2010, 11:17 PM  
TJ Carr
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Thanks Nestor, the pipe is free standing & bounces around, will take your advice and snake a coat hanger over it to pull/hold it tight

Have the thing soaking in PB blaster now...hopefully that will help loosen things up a tad.

Found these on line @ home depo & was thinking about trying them out as the elbow is rather short & I'm afraid something much longer wont get in deep enough to grab the plastic...Looking at it I'm thinking a steel files tale would also be to long.

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Old 09-01-2010, 11:44 PM  
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Quote:
Looking at it I'm thinking a steel files tale would also be to long.
Duh. Yes, doing that wouldn't work at all.



But, jamming the OTHER END of the file into the plastic pipe would work. That is, looking at the file pictured above, you'd jam the slightly tapered LEFT end of the file tightly into the plastic pipe. It's that slight taper at the END of the file (the left end) that allows you to jam the file in tight, and it's the teeth on the end of the file that grip the ID of the pipe so that when you turn the file, it turns the pipe. Maybe take the piece of shower arm that broke off to the tool department of your local home center and pick out a file that fits well.

And, you turn the file with one of these:



I'd be concerned that the teeth on those "easy outs" you found would just cut through the plastic cuz they're made for cutting into steel. I'd try them, but as a last resort. I expect an internal pipe wrench would be successful without mucking up the ID of the plastic pipe so as to limit your options.

Here's a picture of the Proto J142 internal pipe wrench:



For $5, if that bolt sticking out the end allows you to move the eccentric wheel outward to grip the pipe, then this is the tool I'd order and have the most confidence in.

If push comes to shove, you can (wearing a glove) hold a metal funnel over the end of a heat gun (or maybe even a hair dryer) and heat the back of the brass shower elbow. Once the shower elbow is toasty, the comparatively light plastic pipe stub screwed into it will stay soft and easily deformable for a long time. Pry opposite sides of the pipe inward with a long thin screw driver until you can grab the pipe stub with a pair of needle nose pliers, and then just twist it out. You can buy a cheap heat gun for about $30, and you'll find that they're a very handy tool to have for removing paint and adhesives.
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Old 09-01-2010, 11:52 PM  
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Some nomenclature:

The brass fitting inside the wall is called the "shower elbow".

The pipe that comes out of it is called the "shower arm". Your shower arm is broken.

The shower head screws onto the other end of the shower arm.

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Old 09-02-2010, 07:25 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nestor_Kelebay View Post
Some nomenclature:

The brass fitting inside the wall is called the "shower elbow".

The pipe that comes out of it is called the "shower arm". Your shower arm is broken.

The shower head screws onto the other end of the shower arm.
Thanks for setting me straight as you can tell I'm a total klutz when it comes to home repair.

Never realized you were talking about the head of the file instead of the handle, that makes more sense to me now Heating the back of the elbow via a funnel is also a novel idea, was thinking about just taking a hair dryer and having at the face of the elbow hopping to soften up the plastic enough to get under it with a screwdriver...
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Old 09-02-2010, 08:07 AM  
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Well, managed to try the file trick....all it did was chunk up the plastic to the point the file hit the threads of the elbow & buggered them up a tad. Does not look like there is anything left of the plastic pipe to get a good bite of...and the threads look really fine in the elbow..

Don't know what's left other than to try a hair dryer & hopefully peal out the plastic...




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Old 09-02-2010, 08:52 AM  
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Oh boy wish I had seen this sooner...
I do hope that you haven't boogered up the threads on the elbow so bad that they leak.

Take a cheap screwdriver heat it up red hot (I say cheap because heating a good one red hot will ruin the temper of the metal) and use it to cut the plastic into pieces to remove it. Then install a new shower arm.

If it leaks you will have to open up the wall and install a backing board between the studs then sweat on a new drop ear elbow and screw it to the backing board. Ideally it would have already been installed like this.

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Old 09-02-2010, 12:53 PM  
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This is crazy, don't seem to be getting anywhere fast trying to clear it out, I'm starting to wonder if whoever put this thing in glued the shower arm in....

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Old 09-02-2010, 04:55 PM  
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You should find pipe dope or teflon tape around the threads, but not glue. I expect that whomever put that shower arm in wanted to tighten it that extra 7/8 of a turn to get the shower arm straight and pointed in the right direction, and that's why it's so tight.

Did you try Redwood's suggestion of cutting through the elbow with hot metal? I was thinking that if you have a small electronics soldering iron, you could melt through the plastic with that, too.

Quote:
all it did was chunk up the plastic to the point the file hit the threads of the elbow & buggered them up a tad
Thank goodness you had the good judgement not to keep jamming that file into the elbow and twisting it once it was already hitting the brass threads of the elbow.

I doubt that anyone would have glued the shower arm in, tho. In the unlikely event that you have to start looking for a Plan "B", may I suggest the following:

1. Go to:
http://www.kissler.com
Kissler is a plumbing wholesaler in New Jersey who carries a lot of stuff that is no longer available from the original manufacturers. They contact the offshore companies that made the parts for the original manufacturers and have them make those same parts for Kissler. In many cases, they fabricate the parts themselves, such as brass spindles for cartridges or seats for faucets that have been obsolete for years.

2. On the Kissler home page, click on the "Escutcheons, Sleeves and Trim" catalogue to download that PDF file. It's a 1.2 MB file that contains pages 293 to 314 of the Kissler Catalogue. The page numbers are found in the bottom right corner of each page.

3. At the top of page 303 in that PDF file, the middle escutcheon is 5 inches tall and has a 3/4 inch hole toward the top of it. It was originally made for American Standard.

You could enlarge the hole in your wall from the tub side. Simply buy a coping saw blade and slip it into the wall at the shower elbow. From what I can see, there's plenty of room to get a coping saw blade into that gap. Draw the hole you want to make on the wall and insert the blade so the teeth face toward you and cut on the pull stroke. Use a small pair of Vice Grips to hold the blade.

Now, just hire a plumber to unsolder the old shower elbow and solder a new one on. (I'm presuming you don't solder.)

You could then slip this escutcheon (part # 42-4155) over the new shower arm, and the escutcheon would cover the enlarged hole in the wall. Then just use silicone caulk to seal around the perimeter of the new escutcheon. I'd leave the bottom of the escutcheon un-caulked to allow any water that might get into the escutcheon to leak out.

Kissler has a $250 minimum order, but they have lots of companies that order from them regularily, including Handyman's Inc. close to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
http://handymansinc.com/
Kissler's Customer Service should be able to tell you of someone closer to you that orders from them on a regular basis. You might have to wait a few weeks for that company to put together an order of $250 or more in goods, but when I've ordered from Kissler through Handyman's, it didn't take longer than 2 weeks. You could just tape a plastic bag over the hole for the interim.

Hopefully, it won't come to this, but it's good to have a back up plan in case you don't make any progress removing that plastic.


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