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Thread: Sweating Copper

  1. #1

    Default Sweating Copper

    When putting a fitting in a exisiting line how do you keep the water from weeping out while you are putting in a new connection Thanks-- erthwrks89

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    First, I am glad you asked the question, and did not assume that you could ignore even just a few drops of water. You can NOT.

    There are many techniques. The age old is simply to stuff some stale bread up into the pipes. After soldering, the bread is blown out through the first faucet up stream. With todays aerators and ceramic cartridges, there can be some problems.

    Oatey makes some gel globs that perform like the bread, and then are melted out.

    A professional plumber will have tools like a JetSweat and/or a pipe freeze kit.

    Most of the time, by shutting off the main at the street and using logic....you can get it drained down. If you are on the first floor, open some cold taps on the second floor to let air in. This will help drain.

    If you are in a basement or crawl space, sometimes you can remove some clamps on a long run of pipe. This will allow it to flex down to drain out; then when you lift it back up, you have some time to get the joint soldered before any more water works its way up.

    Depending on where the fitting is located, it might be possible to use a compression fitting in lieu of sweat. If the area is not acessible, code will not allow this.


    Hope I have given you some ideas. Post back with further details of your project and someone else will have some better ideas to help you.

    Last edited by Terry; 09-05-2009 at 05:27 PM.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Great ideas!

    I've certainly been there, done that -- had joints leak because of a few drops of water deciding to drip down from upstairs pipes while sweating a joint.

    I've gotten another tip from this site: Consider opening up ALL possible water outlets on all floors above where you're working. This includes:

    --outside hose bibs
    --flushing toilets to let air in to allow water to drain from their supplies
    --showers, tub faucets
    --every sink faucet
    --and probably several common things I'm forgetting!

    and then let the whole shebang drain for as long as it takes, which may be up to a couple hours. Obviously, a pro couldn't afford to do this, and instead might freeze the pipe or use the JetSweat options mentioned above, which are really neat ideas and things I'd love to have -- but on the other hand, as a homeowner, I have the luxury of time over the weekend to drain things the old fashioned way.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    When I was redoing my shutoff valve on the mainline from the meter, I couldn't get all of the water out of that line. I took some stiff wire and an old towel torn into strips. I made a fairly tight loop one one end of the wire and threaded a strip of towel through it. I ran that into the pipe as far as I could, then threaded an elbow over the wire and soldered the elbow on to the pipe. Then I pulled the towel out with the wire. I had to be careful to get the towel torn to a size that would be snug in the pipe but not so tight as to not come out. My point is, and I think the point others have made, is that someway, somehow you have to get the water out before you can solder the joint. Perhaps you could get some of that gel mentioned earlier.

  5. #5
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Gary, just saved yourself $400 bucks on the purchase of a JetSweat. How come I never think of these ideas?

    Thanks for the tip!

  6. #6

    Default don't do what I did

    Man, I sympathize with you. I had the same problem. I cut the line and let it drain for 2 hours, but STILL had drips coming down every now and then. Some bits of advice (I am risking getting laughed at, but what the heck):

    1) Don't apply a torch even when the water is only dripping intermittently. My water was evil, and actually waited until I heated up the pipe good n' hot and then would start trickling again. Of course, the water drew all the heat from the pipe, sending drips of boiling water right onto my head.

    2) Don't use rye or wholegrain bread to temporarily clog the line. The seeds clog the aerators and are a pain to pick out. Use white bread only (or an english muffin). I used these and they worked like a charm.

    3) Don't use the Oatey gels. It's extremely difficult to get the copper ends smooth enough such that they won't cut the gels when you insert them. When they get punctured, not only do you have to throw them away, your hand gets annoyingly oily.

    4) If you're inserting a tee into an existing line, I suggest cutting out a longer section than necessary, and making a longer replacement section out of a slip coupling, a new section of pipe, and the tee. Solder that contraption on the ground and slip it over the cut out. Solder one side to the existing line, then when it cools, wrap it with a moist rag, and do the other side. It's easier than doing both sides of the tee at once (for a novice like me). Also, having a bigger cut out gives you more wiggle room to get the new fitting in.

    5) While you are at it, off of the branch, since you now have all the water drained out, run an extension of the pipe down to the ground, with a shutoff valve. Now, if you ever have to drain the water again, it'll be a tad easier to drain the line through this new low point.
    Last edited by prashster; 02-09-2006 at 12:43 PM. Reason: typeo

  7. #7
    Plumber Winslow's Avatar
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    Once I was doing a plumbing repair and had a similar problem. I asked the owner of the house if she had a slice of bread. She returned in about 15 minutes with a balogna sandwich, complete with chips and a drink.

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