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How to stop a leak in a galvanized pipe

Your Home Improvements

Posted: July 26, 2008 12:15 a.m.
Updated: September 26, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Hello Robert,
I've got a galvanized pipe in the garden with a faucet on the top. At the base of this pipe, almost below ground level, there is a pin hole leak. I've tried to tape it and have used some plumber's putty, but it keeps leaking. Is there maybe a clamp or something I could put on to stop the leak?
Art G.

Hi Art,
With something like this, just dig it up and replace it. This is probably tied into your main irrigation line, so turn that water off before the repair. The bib is connected to a coupling underground, probably to a T or a 90. If the coupling looks bad, replace that also. If the pipe is rotted beyond the coupling, then you would need to cut back to a good point and re-thread to make your new assembly.

You can get a pipe threader from the local rental yard for about $15 a day.

One of the problems with galvanized is over the years they rust from the inside along with all of the mineral sediments that constrict the amount of volume flowing through it. Take the bib off and put it on the new galvanized nipple at whatever height you are comfortable with.

You could also change it out to copper which would stay clean. To go from galvanized to copper, you need to use a dielectric coupling which is made of brass. You would thread that onto the galvanized side, and sweat the copper to the other side. This dielectric coupling prevents against corrosion between the two dissimilar metals.

Hello Robert,
I follow your column and was wondering if you could help on a project. I was a framer many years ago, so I've got a good understanding of construction, but I'm not sure how to start with making a bridge. We have a natural rock fountain landscape with a small river that runs the length of my property. I would like to put a bridge that crosses over it. I've already set eight 8 x 8 posts in concrete, which are all outside of the banks. The four on the outsides are two feet tall, and the four towards the center are four feet tall. The problem is I don't want angles. What would you use to make an arch?
Gill L.

Hello Gill,
The posts are certainly strong enough, but I don't think you need that steep of an arch. With what you've got so far, you would need at least 2 x 48's to make the stringers. As you know, these are the long arched supports to which you would attach the floor planks. You could special order glue lam that size, but you are talking serious money.

I would trim those posts down. I don't know what the span of your bridge needs to be, but you could probably trim the short ones down to six inches, and one foot for the centers. Now, since you want the bridge to extend past the posts to near ground level on either side, you could buy some 2 inch x 18 inch x 10 feet. Trace the arch and cut two stringers, which you would attach to the posts. Just remember the steeper the arch, the wider the stringers need to be.

You could also add some posts with a handrail. Just keep in mind you want the arch of the railing to match the stringers.

They also have bridge kits available. Some are very nice with redwood planking. You get all the materials in one package and put it together.

Dear Robert,
This is not your typical question, but I'm running out of options and I thought you might be able to help. I need to sell my house by the end of the year and it looks like the market is going to be about the same as it is now. My question is should I put more money into the house to make it sale easier? If so, what should I concentrate on? Or should I just repair and fix what's already here without investing more money? Laura B.

Hello Laura,
If you're going to remodel, stick with the big three - new bathroom, new kitchen and new bedroom.

Bathrooms and kitchens usually add a value of anywhere from 70 percent to 90 percent of what you pay.

So, if you spend $15,000 on a new bathroom, you may be able to recoup $13,500, which is a very good return on improvement dollars, but still less than what you put in. Swimming pools, on the other hand, only bring about 5 percent to 10 percent.

Being that it is a soft market, I would just make repairs to bring your home up to as good as possible without spending a lot of money. Minimize your input. The problem is the current market and that you are desperate to sell.

If it were possible to live in your house for the next 5 to 10 years, I would suggest remodeling. This would not only give you a better home to live in but would offer you better tax credits when you sold. When you sell, you are taxed on the sales price less the basis, and the bigger the basis the better. Improvements, such as anything new would be added to the basis, but repairs would not. So, in that case, don't repair, but replace. You would not only add more value to your home and would make more back on your investment, but would make money through the taxes as well.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years' experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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