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Corroded pipe may complicate repairs

Q: We were moving into our home and as I was hooking up the washing machine I found I couldn’t turn one of the hose faucets on. I tried to repair it, but I decided to replace the faucet instead. It seems like it is frozen because it won’t budge. The faucet sticks out of the wall on a copper pipe. How can I remove it?

A: Seemingly easy tasks can sometimes turn into a real pain, especially when a 30-minute job turns into a three-hour one. It can make you swear off home repair forever.

Changing a washing machine bib shouldn’t be very difficult, but getting one off of a corroded pipe can be challenging. The first thing to do is turn off the water to the house.

The washer bib either will have threads, being a “screw-on” at the end of the pipe, or a compression fitting. If yours has a compression fitting, use a pipe wrench to hold the bib and use another wrench (preferably a big one) to unscrew the nut that holds it to the pipe. It’s best if you hold the wrenches so that they oppose each other as you apply force. In this way, you can use two hands and just squeeze them together like you would a pair of gardening shears.

For a screw-on bib, you can use the same technique, but instead of holding the compression nut, you must hold the fitting on the pipe still so that it can’t twist and rupture. If you still can’t budge it, use bigger wrenches. The longer the wrench, the more force you can place on the faucet bib, but it’s also easier to damage something. In other words, the pipe may twist and this project could ruin your weekend.

Compression fittings will usually unscrew. This problem is more common with a screw-on faucet bib, so it’s time to grab a hacksaw and show it who’s the boss.

On the top of the faucet bib is a packing nut, while underneath that is the top of the bib. Unscrew these so that you are left with just the body of the valve. Use the hacksaw and cut vertically through the top of the valve as far down as you can go, but not so far that you start cutting through the threads of the pipe fitting. After you have reached that depth, use a large standard screwdriver and stick it in the groove you just cut. Give it a twist and the valve should split into two pieces.

After you have removed the old valve, use a wire brush and clean the threads of the fitting. Wrap the threads with Teflon tape and you can screw on the new valve and washing machine hose. Turn the water back on, check for leaks and finish your weekend with a load of whites.

Michael D. Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: questions@pro-handyman.com. Or, mail to: P.O. Box 96761, Las Vegas, NV 89193. His Web address is: www.pro-handyman.com.

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