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Thread: Weeping Solder Joint

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member spaxz's Avatar
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    Default Weeping Solder Joint

    Hello,

    I soldered in a shower tap and head today, when I turned the water on I noticed the 1/2" copper pipe had a slight beed of moisture on it where it is soldered to the top of the shower tap (pipe goes to shower head). There was also a small beed of moisture half way up the shower head pipe (top of soldered collar).
    Now I can remove, replace and resolder the collar but what do I do about the weep on the top of the tap.
    Do I heat it up, remove the pipe, clean best I can and resolder?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Once a solder joint has been contaminated with water, the only way to fix it is to take things apart, reclean and flux things, then put it back together.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member spaxz's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply, one other question. When I was soldering the collar joint I did the underside first then the top of the collar. I noticed when I was heating the bottom there was a small amount of black material that came up around the top of the collar. After getting a good solder on the underside of the collar I went to the top and then the solder didn't seem to want to drop into or around the top collar.
    I cleaned and fluxed the pipe and inside of collar. Did I put too much flux on and the heat burned the flux? Note that the top pipe going into the top side of he collar was the old original, was there something on the inside of that?

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You may have overheated the joint. If you didn't clean it out well, that may have been an issue. You don't need to remove all of the solder in a connection, but any corrosion does need to be removed (burned flux, etc.) and the bare metal must be clean and shiny. You need enough solder out of there to be able to slide the pipe back in, though. In reality, having a nice coat of solder on the pipe/fitting can make the joint a little easier (it's called tinning). They also sell flux that has powdered solder in it that works well. Depending on where you are, the choice of flux may be limited...some of the newer ones are a lot easier to burn up...the older paste stuff is easier to get a good joint with, but can leave a taste in the water until it flushes out. There's a fine line between enough and too much flux. To someone that does it every day, they know and don't have problems...it's us DIY'ers that run into them.

    Once the fitting is hot enough, you may be able to solder both ends without putting the torch back on - move the flame around and try to apply the solder to each end one right after the other.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member dj2's Avatar
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    Default

    I think you may find it hard to fiddle with and to correct it. You may have to use new fittings for a successful first time soldering.

    Make sure every part is sanded well, completely dry and plumbed.

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    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    I am no pro plumber. (Unless you ask my Girl)

    But the pressure that you have on your connection is not all that much.

    You should get a better torch that will get with the program on your next try.


    I would get a better torch and add Flux, and not add more solder, unless needed. May be no need to take it all apart.


    Seems simple.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member spaxz's Avatar
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    What about instead of copper I go with the clear plastic ABS pipe for the shower head piping. If that is an option is there a 3/4 nut that would screw onto the threaded connection at the top of the shower valve (1/2 copper was soldered inside but I removed), then go to plastic ABS and then from ABS back onto the existing 1/2" copper line coming down from the shower head. If this an option what are the parts that I would need?

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    I have to take exception to Don L's comment that you may be able to just add flux and reheat. Once water has gotten into the joint, there is zero chance to do that. The joint MUST be completely disassembled and all parts cleaned. You can reuse fittings if you clean them with a wire brush or emery cloth (sand paper). Traces of the old solder are OK to leave. The key to a good solder joint is to clean to bright and shiny, flux, heat just until the solder flows when touched to the heated joint, then leave it alone until cool. Too much heat can burn off the flux, any water in the pipe will turn to steam and prevent a good joint, not cleaning the pipe and fitting will prevent a good joint, and moving the joint while still hot can crack the solder seal. It's not rocket science, but you do have to follow the proper procedure.

  9. #9
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    I have to take exception to Don L's comment that you may be able to just add flux and reheat. Once water has gotten into the joint, there is zero chance to do that. The joint MUST be completely disassembled and all parts cleaned.

    I guess I never worried about water in the connection. It will not be there long.

    The flux will clean any residue that water leaves, and most likely will be water soluble.

    In theory if everything is perfectly clean you do not need flux.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    I don't know anybody that reheats a joint to add solder after water has been in the line.

    At least not twice!
    I think we have all tried that fix ONCE.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Taking the risk of starting a war with Don, flux is needed to sweat a joint, PERIOD. Molten solder will not draw into the joint without it. Yes, bright and shiny surfaces are also necessary, but that will not create the chemical reaction that flux provides.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; In theory if everything is perfectly clean you do not need flux.

    I do not know what theory you are using, but flux IS necessary for a good solder joint. However, the water soluble fluxes will "burn" if they are overheated, which can happen if you heat the bottom joint too much before moving to the top one.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  13. #13
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    Taking the risk of starting a war with Don, flux is needed to sweat a joint, PERIOD. Molten solder will not draw into the joint without it. Yes, bright and shiny surfaces are also necessary, but that will not create the chemical reaction that flux provides.

    No war here Gary. You are correct.

    I am just saying just because a joint had water in it short term does not make it unrepairable. You need no water in the pipe that can make steam, but the water in the fitting will boil off. The Flux and solder will flow with the proper heat.

    If the leak is from improper cleaning then it needs to be taken apart and re-cleaned.


    hj, I was using the theory in a vacuum.
    Theory only works perfect in a vacuum.

    Cyber Security Protection for Windows C:\ > WWW.WinForce.Net

  14. #14
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    hj, I was using the theory in a vacuum.
    So many things I could say here.

    Have you seen the movie Gravity yet?
    Speaking of vacuum, there were a few parts that were making my mechanical brain twist in knots. It was fun, but ilogical too.

    All that stuff in space too. I was thinking of you Don.

  15. #15
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    The last time I fixed a solder joint without using flux, I wasn't exactly proud about it.

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