Lead vs Lead-Free solder

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by pjw, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. pjw

    pjw New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    NJ
    I'm no professional, but I've been successfully sweating joints for many years. I haven't had that much success with the lead-free stuff. Good thing I still have lots of leaded solder around.

    I only do plumbing around the house, so I'm not putting anyone at risk other than us (and I'm no kid), but I can't seem to transition to the lead-free stuff. It seems to flow differently and just doesn't seem to "run into" the joints in the same way that the leaded solder did. And, yes, I know enough to keep the stuff clean and fluxed.

    Last time I replaced our electric water heater, it was a nightmare - I used the lead-free and when I was done, the connection leaked like a sieve. I tossed it all and got out my old stuff and...NO LEAKS.

    I'm using a Bernz-O-Matic Mapp gas torch. Like I said - I'm no professional, but always trying to improve what I do. Any advice?

    Thanks very much!

    Paul in New Jersey
  2. GabeS

    GabeS Remodel Contractor

    Messages:
    294
    Location:
    Brooklyn NY
    I don't think you are supposed to use the 50/50 stuff on water supply pipes. That's for heating systems. On water supply I would definetely use lead free.

    They have easy flo solder that is supposed be easy to work with. The melting temperature is lower and stay melted over a wider range as I understand it.

    I don't see why you are having a problem with the lower lead content solder. It should be the same. If you know how to solder, then you should be able to use any kind of solder. I don't see a reason why one type would work with you and not the other.
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I have no problems with lead free solder...
    It's the law!
  4. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    What happens to the people that move into your home after you are gone? Trick is to buy good quality lead free solder and a good flux. I have had issues with a cheap roll of lead free solder. I normally get Sterling solder by Lenox, and use No-Korode flux. Mapp gas should get you more than hot enough to make the solder flow.
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    He's probably over heating and that's causing the problem.

    And he really should have his water tested for lead, and use the first draw, meaning after sitting in the plumbing for 8 hours. Many private wells and city waters have acidic water, even more so since about 1990 when the allowable pH range was changed to the more acidic 6.5 to 8.5.
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Oatey # 95 flux is all I will use...it is hands down the best in my NSHO...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    solder

    What kind of 'lead free solder" are you using. If it is 95/5 you will have more problems with it. Conventional lead free is quite similar to 50/50 and you should not have any transition problems with it.
  8. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,763
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    And this is why the State licenses plumbers.
    Using lead solder plumbing is unsafe.
    Lead was banned in the 80's

    So maybe you are old, and the lead has already done it's worst on you.
    But when you sell your home to a new family with young kids, your "gift to society" will just keep giving.

    Lead Free solder flows well with water based flux.
    The joints are indestructible too.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  9. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Not to sugar coat this topic but I heard that after years lead in pipes are covered in mineral buildup and essentially are not harmful. I throw this out there because I value all the plumbers' oopinion on here and wonder what the consensus is in general with ya'll.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    lead free solder

    I have the same opinion and stated it in a reply that deleted itself before I could post it. In addition the amount of solder exposed to the water in a typical properly made joint is very, very small, and once the surface lead was absorbed, the water would have to "EAT" into the depleted solder to get to additional lead in the solder. The typical "bad" joint which may be more prevalent than good ones in the average house, would have NO solder exposed to the water because the solder would not reach the end of the tubing and corrosion would seal the missing portion very quickly. It was similar to the asbestos, radon, and other "catastrophies". When one crisis was taken care of the "Nadar's Raiders" of the world had to find a new cause or they would have had to find real jobs. The Low Nox heaters of Southern California may be the next one.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2009
  11. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Sterling Taramet is the best, I've been using it as long as I've been lead-free. It is both stronger than Silvabrite and takes less heat.
  12. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    There are many areas in the US that have low pH (acidic) and little hardness in the water. That type water will not lay down a protective layer over lead solder or inside the copper tubing. And people anywhere with a water softener will not have any hardness.

    That is why the EPA and all states came up with the Lead and Copper Rules in the late 1980s and required 'lead free' solder, flux and brass. The allowable lead content in water was reduced to 50 ppB(illion). It accumulates in the body. Humans do badly with very little lead in their diet. It causes neurological problems and greatly effects the brain and then the nervous systems.
  13. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Thanks for that post, Gary.
  14. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    I find the the oatey solder with silver in it works and flows great. I tried the oatey 95/5 once and immediately threw the roll in the garbage.
  15. TedL

    TedL New Member

    Messages:
    604
    Location:
    NY Capital District
    I'm sorry you don't believe asbestos poses a serious threat. My wife, who has never smoked, was just diagnosed with mesothelioma, due to exposure to her father's work clothes (insulation insaller) that ended 44 years ago when he became disabled by asbestosis (which killed him before he had time to develop meso). Her aunt died of meso in 1972. Her exposure was to the same source--she lived in the apt. below, and visited daily. My brother in law died of meso 21 years ago. He work several years with his father.

    Look up reliable medical sources and you'll see meso is 99+% associated with asbestos exposure. It is not a myth. You may want to limit your comments to things you know a little more about.
  16. Hardt

    Hardt New Member

    Messages:
    42
    Location:
    Hawaii
    Lead toxicity in plumbing, second-hand smoke, amalgam (mercury) tooth fillings, radiation from the sun, exposure to mold,formaldehyde in the home, etc. Wouldn't it be interesting to see a table ranking all the health hazards that we are exposed to by their mortality/injury rate in everyday living in todays world? We could then take informed/calculated risks to engage or avoid certain situations. I would rank getting killed in an auto accident at the top of my list, then cigarette smoking, home accidents, unhealthy eating, etc... So many things to think about!
  17. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,331
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Mabey we would all be better off if we were still cavemen & women.
  18. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,763
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    No, we can't drink the water from streams anymore either. I back pack with a water filter.

    Second hand smoke? I think I would use my club on the guy.
    I was at a Casino dancing, and the table next to me left a burning smoke at their table. A little water in the ash tray fixed that.

    Food is good though, I keep hearing that Wine, Beer and Coffee are good for you. Hey, who am I to argue?
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2009
  19. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,660
    Location:
    .
    I can't tell you how sorry and sad I am really that. Very very much. How is your wife doing?
  20. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I have always liked a little lead with my drain bamage.
Similar Threads: Lead Lead-Free
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & I got lead and it cracked a bit. Jun 25, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Old style lead toilet flange with brass ring Jun 3, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & replacing lead bend May 7, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & changing cast & lead to ABS Jan 10, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Oval shaped lead closet bend??? Dec 5, 2013

Share This Page