Measuring solder

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Ian Gills, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    As my soldering gets better and better, I am now at the stage of measuring off my solder to get the best, most pretty joints. I mark pencil lines on the solder to guide me.

    For 1/2" pipe I use 1/2" of solder.

    For 3/4" pipes I use 3/4" of solder.

    On 1/2" brass fittings I can almost make the joints invisible, which is my utlimate aim.

    Does this sound right? And could I use even less to get the optimal joint?

    I do have too much time on my hands.
  2. westcoastplumber

    westcoastplumber Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    los angeles
    thats the myth.

    here is my view, I wanna turn the water on and not have a leak:D

    you can use 1" of solder on a 1/2" joint, or 2" and still get a pretty joint.

    have you pressure tested your joints? you can have invisable solder and visable leaks

    they alsways have propress :)
  3. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    No leaks West Coast. Well, one, once, but that was when I was going heavy on the solder rushing to do the final joint in a very tight space near the joists and worrying about fire.

    But it does really annoy me when experienced plumbers leave blobs of solder hanging from a joint. It looks so amateur. Where is the pride in the work?

    Amateurs use too much solder. It's just a fact and I do not want to look like an amateur, even if I am one.

    There's very little point doing DIY if it looks like DIY.

    Even worse than blobs are silver, solder smeared pipes. Drives me mad.

    It's not just about no leaks. It's about form as well as function. Doing copper pipework should be like crafting fine jewelery.

    Something you take time over, at the weekends, with a smile on your face.

    You plumbers have the best job in the world! It must be hard tearing yourself away from it to go home for the family at the end of the day. I'd just be tempted to keep plumbing 24/7!
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  4. westcoastplumber

    westcoastplumber Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    los angeles
    I have been soldering for 11 years, I have massive pride in my work.

    I like peace of mind and sleep over worrying if I am going back in 6 months to repair a slow leak.

    There is a big difference between knowledge and amature work, I have seen many leaks, most recently one in a 1" copper line, didn't leak on the previous plumber for over 12 months, and when I pulled the fitting apart, no solder, it was on an exterior isolation valve.

    It does not always need to leak when the water is first turned on.

    Experience and Pride over invisable solder. peace of mind and sleep.
  5. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    You're the first plumber I have met who worries about losing sleep over other people's plumbing.

    This is very reassuring.

    There must be the occassional job when you forget that you checked everything (even though you did check everything)?

    Must drive you mad.

    I go crazy if I forget to remember if I checked my front door was locked after I leave for work every morning.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2008
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,019
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    solder

    You have WAY too much time on your hands if you actually measure and mark your solder. Put as much solder into the joint as it takes to make a tight joint, and not leave excess. But since we are working at it for a living, I will use a bit more solder and save the time that measuring it would take.
  7. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    I would never trust making a solder joint with a pre-measured amount of solder which was primarily done for aesthetic considerations; there are too many situations where you don't have full access to the fitting and have to use a bit more solder to make sure the joint was done properly. I have come across too many joints that just pull apart long before their time because the "plumber" didn't use enough solder or only fed the solder at one point to make the joint.

    But everyone has their own techniques and tricks, and to each their own. If you want to test your joints to see if solder is actually penetrating the joint far enough and evenly enough, you can make a few test joints of each size, cut the fitting above and below the joints, slice it lengthwise, flatten the tube/fitting in a vice, and then pull the two sections apart by force and see how well the joint was soldered.

    I must admit that I occasionally have solder run down on vertical joints, and I am not proud of that, but I do so very little copper work these days. My hat off to the artisans who do their copper soldering flawlessly.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I can't tell you the number of joints I have pulled apart over the years that looked fine on the outside but the solder only penetrated the joint maybe 1/16 of an inch or so in spots.

    I add enough solder from the top 180 degrees of the fitting till it begins to form a drop on the underside of the fitting, then wipe it.

    Oatey #95 flux helps the solder flow.

    BTW the joints I pulled apart were not mine
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I use a micrometer to measure my solder for that perfect joint! ROFLMAO

    Seriously, if you measure solder you have way too much time on your hands!
    Pay attention to the important stuff like cleaning the pipe and fitting very well.
    Using enough of a good quality flux before sweating and not afterwards.
    Wipe joints clean afterwards with a cotton rag or glove.
    If you are new to soldering disassemble some joints and make sure that you are getting full penetration.

    I actually use 2 different fluxes.

    For new work where there is no water present and the work is clean and easy. I use NOKORODE® Aqua Flux™. http://www.rectorseal.com/index.php?site_id=1&product_id=240

    For repair work which is what I do most often where I'm fighting the water and other factors. I use NOKORODE® Regular Paste Flux.http://www.rectorseal.com/index.php?site_id=1&product_id=239
  10. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    Like I keep trying to say, plumbing is a hobby for me. It is a joy to do and not a chore so I do not mind taking hours over it.

    Thanks for all of the comments though. I will try to be more liberal with my soldering.

    One technique I do use is to solder as much "away from the project" as possible. This means I can visually look inside each joint, from down the pipe, to see how the solder has taken before I make the final connection to the existing plumbing.

    A tape measure and a pencil really is the best plumbing equipment to use, not only for solder but also for cutting the pipe.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2008
  11. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Wow, thats all I can say...
  12. westcoastplumber

    westcoastplumber Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    los angeles


    It would take me 5 years to complete a 2 bath re-pipe :eek:

    when your under a house running pipe, repairing a leak on an emergency shut down for a hospital at 2am, in a confined space, all that 1/2 for 1/2, 3/4 for 3/4 etc goes right out the window.

    have fun with your hobbie, it sounds really fun for you. take some pictures, I would love to see it.

    look on my site, you will see my on job soldering:p I am flat rate, so I can't spend all day on the job;):D
  13. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Truly, it made me smile to read Ian's beaming enthusiasm for his plumbing work. But I guess that's usually the difference between a hobby and a job in any situation.

    Keep up the good work Ian, and always strive to do it right the first time! :)
  14. Dont be stupid.....SLOP THE SOLDER ON

    You really dont know the frustration and disgust that
    happens when you got an employee that wants to measure
    solder........

    and then wants to get into a plumbing pride and plumbing
    manhood debate with you about it.....thats always fun..

    presently I have an idiot that has it in his head that you dont
    need more than 1/2 inch of solder fo r a 1/2 joint and 3/4 inch
    solder for a 3/4 joint...and their is no talking him out of it...

    he basically can solder someting just good enough to last about
    untill the time they get home. and sit down to supper.....

    this is actually a "talent or skill" that cant be taught....
    to be able to solder a "timed released leak"....
    it lasts just long enough to get out of the home ...

    of course someone else has had to go behind him and
    fix the mistakes later on that day or evening.
    .30 miles away.... and of course it cant be his soldering abilities
    it must have been a bad joint....

    I have threatened to take pics of the work and dock him on
    the pay check next time it happens..because I am the guy
    that has to go back and fix the problems.


    Solder is about 12 dollars a roll.......slop it on ,
    let it drip once or twice...... then take a rag and wipe it off
    all neat and clean looking..... Use the whole 12 dollar roll if you must....

    gas is 4 dollars a gallon....xx how far away

    my time is invaluable....

    going back out that evening at midnight to fix a leak
    30 miles away becasue of stupidity like this is
    simply PRICELESS.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  15. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    Since you are all so busy poking fun at me, I thought I would share another gem with you.

    I use a dentist's mirror to examine my finished joints in tight spaces before turning the water on. Works wonders.

    I really do take my time.

    [​IMG]
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I often use a mechanics mirror... Bigger Picture!:D
  17. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    For close-up work I use jewelers goggles, especially when I am trying to get the joints on 1/2" pipe just so.

    It really is important to take time, to perform this craft with precision.
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  18. I will try that dentist mirror some day...

    are soldering something going to be installed
    on the next space shuttle???

    or is this just a water heater or supply line to a toilet we are talking about???

    you can take precision to the absurd..........


    I am not pokeing fun at you but seriousley....

    you have waaaayyyyy too much time on your hands...

    have you considered...... fly hook tieing????


    I wish I could say I had lots of time on my hands.
  19. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    I'm only joking!
  20. Basement_Lurker

    Basement_Lurker One who lurks

    Messages:
    668
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Yikes, take it easy on him guys!

    Gary, they make inspection mirrors similar to the one you showed where the mirror is on a ball joint at then end of a rod so that you can twist it to get the proper angle. Those come in very handy for renovation work where you don't have the luxury of soldering everything while the framing is all open and exposed like in new construction. Good job if you picked up on using one of those on your own!
Similar Threads: Measuring solder
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice measuring/installing pipe unions Oct 16, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Accurately measuring threaded iron pipe??? Jul 18, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Measuring force. Jun 22, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice 50/50 solder Yesterday at 11:42 AM
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Removing soldered water pressure regulator? Sunday at 12:48 PM

Share This Page