Soldering copper with dripping water.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Don Zorn, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. Don Zorn

    Don Zorn New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Alberta
    When soldering copper in the basement, I shut off the main water supply line to the house and open up all taps in the house, but the water seems to keep dripping forever - making it impossible to solder.

    The only thing that I have found to alleviate this problem is to stuff some compacted bread into the copper line to hold back the water long enough to solder and then flush out the debris afterward. Really low tech solution - and my guess is that the pro's would probably frown on this.

    I have often wondered how the pro's deal with this problem? Blow out the lines with compressed air? Anyone care to comment?

    Don
  2. RioHyde

    RioHyde Plumber

    Messages:
    339
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    What kind of main shutoff valve do you have coming into your house? Sometimes older gate valves can be a cantankerous sort either not shutting off all the way, not turning back on after being shut off, etc.

    The bread idea is an old one I've seen people use in the past. Just be sure to take the airators off all your faucets and run alot of water through to clear it out. I dont use bread as a rule unless I'm making a sandwich. There is an item on the market that looks like a big vitamin E pill. I cant remember the brand name, we just call them "beads". Two sizes, 1/2" and 3/4". Shove one of these in the pipe, solder away, add heat to the pipe where the bead is and it dissolves. I've successfully used the beads a handful of times though ideally I'd rather see if I can get the water out of the line and not shove anything into it to accomplish this.

    Another way to stop the water is with a JetSweat and ballvalve though now you're talking bigger money. I don't think a DIY'er would really want to invest that much into a JetSweat kit that might be used once in a blue moon.

    Rio
  3. Plumber2000

    Plumber2000 Plumber

    Messages:
    196
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    You can use a vet vac and suck the water out of the pipe.
  4. Don Zorn

    Don Zorn New Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Alberta
    Rio - Beads - interesting - I got to get some of these - next stop to HD and I will see if I can pick some up. I did remove all of the aerators and flushed out all of the lines. Thanks for the tip. :)

    Did a google search on Jet Sweat and came up empty handed. I have heard that some plumbers can freeze a line to hold back the water - is that what the Jet Sweat kit does?

    Shop vac - good idea too. Would be useful for draining toilets as well - I guess plumbers probably keep one of these handy in their trucks.

    Don
  5. Stainedrat

    Stainedrat New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Texas
    I've been working in the plumbing trade now for 5 years or so. I have used a variety of ways to stop the water.
    On a low budget method, bread is the best method I've found so far. Never tried the beads, but I've used other things. Paper napkins/towels, sponges or cloth work, tho not very well. Just always remember to remove it before closing off your system.
    On the other end, "JetSwet"s are handy but expensive. A single size runs $50+. The kit runs better than 300 bucks. The nice thing about the "Jetswet" is you don't have to use a full-port valve, you can use an IP Adapter also.
    And the reason you probably couldn't find a site for the "Jetswet" is the spelling. It's manufactured by a company called "Brenelle Ent."
    A few years back I ran across a similar tool called Dutchfingers. Not sure the price anymore but I think they were quite a bit less expensive and if I remember it worked with 1/2" and 3/4" pipe.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2006
  6. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    I've used bread before. Also can switch to compression fitting if need to.

    Thaty Jetswet thing looks pretty slick.

    You could take some 1/4" OD copper line and fix it up to your shop vac hose(not too tightly as you'll probably burn out your motor). Then slide the 1/4" line in past your joint so it'll suck up the water as it drips...

    Kind of same idea they use at the dentist when they stick in that suction tube behind the dental dam...tries to suck up your face.

    Jason
  7. bread is best

    those things you get from home depot are

    not all that good.... they dont do anything that

    bread will not do.....


    just make up a dough ball and cram itinto the pipe

    force it back about three inches and then jus do your thing..
  8. sanaka

    sanaka New Member

    Messages:
    28
    Location:
    Hawaii
    I've found the beads too fragile to survive being pushed into the pipe. They break open and leak their goo all over your joint area - total lameness. Bread works fine as long as you plan a good place to eject it from afterwards.

    I believe Rigid makes a 'freezer blanket' that you wrap around the pipe upstream of your joint and freeze the water inside so you can solder. A budget version of this could be done if you can obtain dry ice - shove some chips of it up your pipe, or perhaps pack some around the outside of a small pipe, to freeze the offendding water for a few minutes.

    Peace,
    Sanaka
  9. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,053
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    Home stores carry a product called "Plumber's Bread" which is a non-perishable product which you push into the pipe to absorb water, like bread. Unlike bread, it dissolves very nicely and you don't clog up aerators, and you can keep it in your toolbox forever.
  10. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    I found bread to work well. WHITE bread (no crusts). Anything with seeds or grains can clog aerators.
    I tried beads once and they broke on the sharp end of the pipe.
  11. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,302
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    When I needed to solder a new cut off valve to my main water supply, I found that the line between the meter and house still contained water. I devised this little trick that worked very nicely. I made a loop in the end of a coat hanger wire to attach a strip of towel. I inserted this swab into the pipe, opened the valve to be soldered and slipped it over the wire. The towel held the water from the joint while I soldered the valve on, then I just pulled it out.
  12. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    exurban Chicago
    I bought an 1-1/2" Jet-Swet at my local supply house. It was needed for a repipe on dual high recovery commercial water heaters in a suburban Chicago branch of a national restaurant chain. It paid for itself in one use. Then I bought a used 1/2" thru 2" set on **** for less than what I paid for the single one from the supply house. They are great! Some schools have so much pipe that draining takes hours, if not days, these really are the way to go.

    Jeff
  13. Biodgr8able

    Biodgr8able New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    WI
  14. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Jet-Sets DO need full port valves, as do ALL expansion type plugs. There are many ways to ensure a dry connection, but each job is unique, so the method has to be adapted to the situation. One method I have NEVER used is bread. There are too many easier ways to do it.
  15. asktom

    asktom Member

    Messages:
    515
    Location:
    Victor, MT
    Pasco's "Quick Sweat" works on the same principle as the "Jetswet". It is not as heavy duty, but works fine and costs a lot less. It uses a flexible cable that can be pushed through an elbow, which is sometimes handy.
  16. mcapistrant

    mcapistrant New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    minneapolis, mn
    Just For Copper

    I have used a product called "Just for Copper" from JACO. It uses some kind of copper chemical bond, comes in a small bottle, and works regardless of water or dry. I couldn't be more happy and it's very inexpensive. Just dry off the best you can, sand well (no wire brush), leave the sanding (it helps with the bond) excess and apply to both surfaces. Turn the connection 360 degrees to complete the bond and leave alone for 7 minutes. Works up to 500psi. Beautiful. By the way, it can be removed with a torch of at least 400 degrees. Even better.

    Good luck!
  17. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,302
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Yeah, and you can overhaul a worn out car engine with a can of Zip Zop too. I hope you didn't use this where eventual failure will cause serious damage.
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