Can I re-use them?

Discussion in 'Solar and Geothermal Water Heating Forum' started by RealJeep, Jun 30, 2008.

  1. RealJeep

    RealJeep New Member

    Jun 30, 2008
    There are some that say never reuse a copper fitting but don't say why. Why couldn't someone reuse a copper fitting that has been cleaned, fluxed and soldered correctly? I took apart an old solar hot water system that generated a lot of pipe, tubing and fittings. I'd like to reuse most or all of it.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know of any reason not to, except the extra work to clean enough old solder off so they go together.
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Dec 15, 2007
    Service Plumber
    $4 a pound and the sky is the limit... Throw it in the barrel!
    As far as cleaning and reusing them... What is your time worth?
  5. RealJeep

    RealJeep New Member

    Jun 30, 2008
    Since they're almost all cleaned already I guess my times not worth mentioning. As far as scrap value, it'll cost me more to get there in gas than the scrap value. I guess it's all relative and I have plenty of time to spare.

    I'm just hoping the old solar panels are still functional and will hold pressure but that's a little while down the road still. For now it's clean up the old parts and run the pipes down to the solar tank.
  6. Weakenedwarrior

    Weakenedwarrior New Member

    Apr 21, 2007
    I work in the electronics industry. We solder to copper every day. Our copper is a lot thinner then copper plumbing fittings.

    When you solder to copper, you get what is called a tin/copper intermettalic layer. The tin from the solder, and copper from the pipe or fitting, intermix to create a thin layer between the solder and the copper. This intermetallic layer will "wash away" with the old solder when reheated. If we resolder to a copper clad PC board, we only have so many solder cycles before the copper is completely gone. This happens much more quickly now that we cannot use lead in much of our solder.
    I am guessing it would take several dozen resolders of a plumbing fitting to make it too thin to use!

    I say go for it.
  7. srdenny

    srdenny Plumbing Contractor

    Sep 11, 2004
    Plumbing Contractor
    SF Peninsula
    I reuse fittings. Why? Because if I don't have the fitting I need on the truck and reusing one saves me a trip to the shop or the supply house, the time scale is on the side of reusing a fitting.
  8. RealJeep

    RealJeep New Member

    Jun 30, 2008
    I did it!

    Thanks for the advice and I reused every one of the old fittings that I needed. It was a pain unsoldering and cleaning them up because almost every fitting had to be scraped clean then wire brushed before a pipe could slide in but it was worth it. Copper has gotten so expensive (Thanks China!) I wouldn't want to have to buy all new fittings.

    End of story... I made a completely functioning solar hot water system from existing old parts and a discarded but good 80 gallon galvanized well tank. It works great and now my electric HW Heater rarely kicks on saving me $$$$
  9. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of

    what kind of system was this anyway???

    if you cleaned the fittings and copper
    pipe up pretty well.....they would be ok to
    re-use.... if it was a water drain down system

    I am wondering if the solar system you tore down
    had antifreeze glycol running through the lines???

    if it had the antifreeze running through the fittings
    I probably would not re-use them, or be sure that you
    really scoured the living hell out of them very well.....

    to would sort of be like takeing your brass radiator from
    your car and running potable water through it......

    I suppose that the copper cleans up ok, but I would be
    leerey of any taste that might leech out of the copper
    and the possiblility of makeing yourself or someone else sick..???

    of course very few people drink hot water...

    but I am just wondering about what you tore apart in the first place.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2008
  10. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Jan 31, 2007
    Engineering Technician
    The few times I've reused copper fittings, I found it to be a huge time saver to heat up the fitting quickly before sanding / wire brushing. Cleaned them up well quite quickly and haven't leaked so far.
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Reusng fittings is not the question. The real question is why you would bother unless they are larger sizes. The small ones are relatively inexpensive and the potential "hassle" of getting them onto the tubing, even if they are cleaned, can quickly offset any benefits.
  12. Tasha Faith

    Tasha Faith Guest

    I realise there is a high value to scrap copper and the like at the moment but I would rather reuse it around the home/garden instead of selling it for scrap, have it shipped off halfway around the world then brought back to again, so we can buy it again in another shape.

Share This Page