Soldering Copper Pipe

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by mschwennes, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. mschwennes

    mschwennes New Member

    Messages:
    3
    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. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    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. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    NorthWest PA
    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. mschwennes

    mschwennes New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Great, thanks for the tips!
  5. Fubar411

    Fubar411 New Member

    Messages:
    141
    Location:
    St Louis, MO
    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. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    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. john-1973

    john-1973 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    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. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,510
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    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. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    This is a good point. And is there really anyplace in the house where a leak would NOT cause damage??!!!!
  11. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    NorthWest PA

    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. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    Ahem...there's only one.
  13. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    NorthWest PA
    Sorry Grumpy, "There can be only one".

    Good to hear from you!

    Maybe you can try to straighten us all out.
  14. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,904
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    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. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump

    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.
  16. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Solder length for pipe size: http://www.copper.org/applications/plumbing/techref/cth/tables/cth_table10.htm
    Solder amounts in the table are inches of 1/8" diameter solder.

    Fitting Dimensions: http://www.copper.org/applications/plumbing/techref/cth/tables/cth_table9.htm

    The depth of the fitting is approximately porportional to the diameter, so to fill the space the amount of solder would be proportional to the diameter squared. Therefore, if the fitting size is doubled (actual OD of tube) you need four times the amount of solder.

    The amount shown in the table includes 100% allowance for waste. You should be close if you use the 0.005 clearance column.

    Oatey No. 95 tinning flux goes a long way to making good joints.
  17. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    There is a problem with the concept of the presoldered fittings. The ring of solder has to have a dimension that allows the pipe to be inserted. That "solder storage volume" must give up enough solder to fill the gap between tube and fitting. The only way that it can give up solder to fill the space is if it makes a void in the fitting where the solder was. If the solder stays in that void there can't be enough to make a complete joint.
  18. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,452
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Home Depot has recognized these fittings as a flash in the pan... They no longer carry them and have clearanced them to make room for Sharkbites. They are junk with a gimmick to appeal to handymen.

    I cringe at the thought of anyone using glue on copper pipes! The potential for damage is so high I wonder why product liability has not forced them off the market yet! It will at some point mark my words!

    I will state that I have used it once. Not quite as they intended! I was doing a job on a Saturday night on a 3 day weekend where a handyman changing a faucet broke a brass pipe. This was a group home for handicap clients... about 10 of them. We had repiped the broken leg and gotten to a tee where past that the job would have been big. We reconnected to the tee and had a drip that we could not get stopped. We put the copperbond on the threads like dope put it together waited 15 minutes and the water was on with no leak. We were coming back on Tuesday for a whole house repipe! Sometimes unique measures have to be taken but I would not normally ever use this product as the manufacturer intended!
  19. construct30

    construct30 New Member

    Messages:
    590
    Location:
    NorthWest PA
    Is there anything they don't make a chart for? A bit too technical for a plumber on the job, but interesting reading in the search for knowledge that I am on. I personally just make sure the pipe is fully into the fitting and I apply solder until it just starts to make a drip then wipe, dry first softly then a damp rag after it cools to warm. It works great on anything up to 3/4" copper. The only leaks I have ever had in a soldered joint are the ones I missed soldering.
  20. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Having a chart can be important for someone doing take-off on a multimillion dollar job.
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