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Thread: Soldering Copper Pipe

  1. #1

    Default Soldering Copper Pipe

    Hi,
    I'm fairly new to the procedure of soldering pipe, though I successfully did it when installing new valves in two showers in the last 3 years. Questions: When just joining two pieces of pipe with one of those inch-or-so long copper connectors, should I solder both connections at once, or let one cool and then do the other? If the joint is on vertical pipe, should I do the top or bottom connection first, or does it matter?
    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2

    Default

    It's called a coupler. Yes you do both side at the same time. I don't know if there is a procedure for the verticle. I just do what is easiest last.

    Tom

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    Personal preference, I like to start at the bottom and work my way up. Heat rises and it is easier to be sure to fill the joint without having big blobs running down the pipe. Heat on one side on the fitting apply solder to the other side until it is almost ready to drip then move up to the top do the same. Don't over heat the fitting do it quick and wait just a few seconds gently wipe the solder to remove any drip, wait until it has cooled to warm to touch and wipe vigorously with a soft clean rag or scott blue shop towel to remove any excess flux. Use a solid solder made especially for copper pipe, usually silver, never lead, not any electrical or electronics solder.

    Always wear eye protection the solder can splash, do not allow any one, especially children or pets to be around. Watch out for fires, never leave the area right away, keep a bucket of water handy and have a fire extinguisher handy just in case. I wouldn't use the extinguisher unless necessary because of the mess, when water works. You turned the water off so get a bucket first.

    Take a piece of pipe out in the garage and clamp it to a work bench and practice first. Sand the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting first then apply the flux then heat and solder. Heat it back up and tear it apart and see how you did, the pipe and fitting should have a nice coating of solder. Make sure the pipe is all the way in the fitting or you could get solder into the inside of the pipe where the water sould be.

    Some people talk about filling the pipe with solder, but I have tried and was never sucessful without the pipe not being all the way into the fitting. General rule of thumb is you will use as long a piece of solder as the pipe size, so 1/2" for 1/2" pipe. If you add solder until it starts to drip is another way. Practice first though. All water must be out of the pipe, it is almost impossible to solder with water in the pipe. If the pipe is wet, use a little plumber's bread to stop the steam and have a valve nearby open, you can not solder a closed pipe.

  4. #4

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    Great, thanks for the tips!

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member Fubar411's Avatar
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    As I've only recently gotten good at soldering (after 10 or so joints in my project), I have a few tips:
    1) Keep it dry - this has been said before, but no water anywhere
    2) Keep it clean - once you've sanded and cleaned out the pipe and the fitting, do it one more time
    3) Hit it hard with the heat - You have to heat the fitting mostly, but also heat the joint and the pipe. Keep your flame moving, and end it with heavy heat away from where you'll start the solder
    4) Get it clean - Use just a little extra solder, but do the damp rag thing. It makes things look nicer and you won't cut yourslef on a drip of solder later on

  6. #6
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    Default

    Best advice I can give you, is:

    use the search function on this forum.

    There was a thread on this topic this summer, lots of good advice in it.


    edit - here:

    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14183
    Last edited by frenchie; 12-10-2007 at 07:04 AM.
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  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    The "rule" of a 1/2" fitting using 1/2" of solder may work for 1/2 and 3/4" pipe but I would like to see someone solder 1 side of a 1.5" copper coupling with 1.5" of solder

  8. #8

    Default Sweating Copper Pipe

    Have you tryed the new copper fittings with the solder in them allready ? All you you do is clean the the pipe and fittings and apply the flux and heat.! Also I have used the liquid solder on hard to get at places(between rafters where you dont want a flame) it really works very well!

    Good Luck!

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default fittings

    The presoldered fittings may have been a "flash in the pan", because I don't see them in the stores, Home Depot especially, where they were originally displayed. As for liquid solder, don't use it anywhere you cannot get to it or where a leak will cause damage.

  10. #10
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    , don't use it anywhere a leak will cause damage.
    This is a good point. And is there really anyplace in the house where a leak would NOT cause damage??!!!!

  11. #11
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    The "rule" of a 1/2" fitting using 1/2" of solder may work for 1/2 and 3/4" pipe but I would like to see someone solder 1 side of a 1.5" copper coupling with 1.5" of solder

    I would like to see a homeowner use a $30 propane torch to solder anything bigger than 3/4". The guide line only goes so far, if you need to solder anything bigger than 3/4" hire it done.

    One of these days you guys are going to make me change my name to GrumpyTheSecond.

  12. #12
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by construct30 View Post
    I would like to see a homeowner use a $30 propane torch to solder anything bigger than 3/4". The guide line only goes so far, if you need to solder anything bigger than 3/4" hire it done.

    One of these days you guys are going to make me change my name to GrumpyTheSecond.
    Ahem...there's only one.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member construct30's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyPlumber View Post
    Ahem...there's only one.
    Sorry Grumpy, "There can be only one".

    Good to hear from you!

    Maybe you can try to straighten us all out.

  14. #14
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Yeah,
    I've been missing Grumpy too.
    I've been having to do all his grumping for him.
    Keeping these kids in line and all.

  15. #15
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Yeah,
    I've been missing Grumpy too.
    I've been having to do all his grumping for him.
    Keeping these kids in line and all.

    Glad to be back you guys, hit a real busy stretch there.
    Terry, I mentioned your post to the Mrs...she says maybe I should rename my business "Grumpy Plumbing".
    Of course, she'd tell you what a bright and chipper fella I am...she would....really she would.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

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