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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe

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fergienewbee

02-24-2011 10:30:23
99.56.121.209



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I have hot/cold water in the garage. I left the hose attached and outside. While plowing the garage approach, I caught the hose with my back bladend pulled the lines apart. Didn't realize it until I finished plowing and heard water running when I came inside. I got the water shut off and my BIL came down and put in a couple of shut-off valves. I scheduled a plumber for the following morning. He couldn't un-solder the faucets--the pipe broke flush. New faucets and labor around $200.00. OUCH!!! My BIL would re-pipe my faucets, but it would be nice to be able to make my own repairs. I'll be 64 in November, so it's about time to learn.

Larry

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bc

02-25-2011 09:30:59
69.148.144.242



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Probably the only tip I can add is that I decide where I'm going to add the solder at and hit that spot with the torch first before moving the torch around to the opposite side. Just to make sure the joint is more evenly heated. I also allow for gravity and try to start solder from the top if I can. Other than that, I tend to use too much solder since I'm afraid of not using enough.



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Dean Olson

02-25-2011 08:05:37
76.31.42.124



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Lots of suggestions to use a big torch. It's a good one but you can overheat and burn all the flux out.

Clean copper till shiny outside of pipe and inside of fitting, make sure pipe is dry and you don't have any water flowing.

Apply flux to pipe and fitting then assemble. Apply heat to fitting on one side and solder to seam of fitting and pipe on the opposite side you're heating. As soon as it flows remove heat.

While it's still hot wipe with a rag to remove excess solder and flux. Makes for a pretty joint. If you have a drip of solder on the bottom you've used too much and wasted the solder. If flux dripped on the floor you used too much of that too. This was a pet peeve of the old Master Plumber I served under as an apprentice.

A general rule of thumb is that if your soldering 1/2" pipe you need 1/2" solder, 3/4" pipe-3/4" solder etc.

If it turns black you've overheated and scorched the flux.

Current code requires lead free solder. I/we used 1000's of lbs of 50/50 solder before the code change with no problems. 50/50 solder is dramatically easier to use.

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rlp in co.

02-24-2011 21:38:32
75.196.231.169



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Be sure to use lead free solder.



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jeffcat

02-24-2011 19:45:10
66.19.242.125



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
What really gets you is when you watch the real old timers at work. This guy would do a 3/4 line and Clean, paste, heat, amd then.... he would wipe the joint with his BARE hand!!!! Yes he had some awsume callus on his hand. If your hands are perfectly dry and have a good callus it works. Something like fire walking.
Now you remember Auther Godfrey? One of the storys he told on his radio show 1972, was when he got his first summer job and how todays kids have no clue. Him and his buddy were plumber helpers to one of the guys I just told you about. Now here is what went down. He took them down to the basement of a new house that was being built. He showed them how to do the joints and soilder correctly. Now in a very heavy and broken Italian accent he told them this. "Now you two a boys soilder in one pipe.. and a when a you get that a done I will a turn on the water and you a keep ahead of it!!!!!!!!" You gotta love it. Jeffcat

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fordtractor2000

02-24-2011 18:51:56
129.44.120.25



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
ok I have done LOTS of plumbing repairs and I have to say that for a " newbie " to deal with fittings on copper pipes maybe he should look into the " sharkbite " fittings they sell at the big box stores and many other places. just cut pipe square slide fitting on and your done, also they work for copper, pex, sch 40 . A little expensive but well worth the money !



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Don-Wi

02-24-2011 18:01:48
75.219.165.56



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Gotta say this will help me tomorrow as well. Gonna replace a faucet in my bathroom and add shutoffs right under the sink. Coulda gone with compression fittings which I still can, but I thought I'd try to sweat them first.

Donovan from Wisconsin



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willie in mn

02-24-2011 17:55:10
205.188.116.141



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Lots of good tips below. Here's a couple more.
If working on a washer type valve, remove the stem so you don't burn up the washer.
Heat the fitting, not the tube. While heating the fitting, hold the solder to the "cold" side of the joint, not the hot side. Remove heat as soon as the solder starts to melt, it will draw right in.
Wipe the joint with a rag before the solder cools. Makes it look like a professional job.
Enjoy the feeling of learning something new.
Willie

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Ernied

02-24-2011 17:14:30
67.253.171.94



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Leave one end of the pipe open, don't try to sweat a closed loop. The reason being the air inside will expand from the heat and not allow the solder to wick in.



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cynic

02-24-2011 16:35:35
216.227.57.49



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
PEX is the only way to go. You don't need the crimping tool, just buy the bite fittings you need.



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36 coupe

03-07-2011 14:50:07
66.186.169.203



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to cynic, 02-24-2011 16:35:35  
Plumbers are using pex here, wont bust on freeze up and crooks wont steal it.A 10 foot length of 1/2 in copper cost 20 bucks now.



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MarkB_MI

02-24-2011 16:30:30
32.178.226.38



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
A few tips:

I can't get good results with certain brands of flux. Oatey won't work for me, and Oatey's "Tinning Flux" is the worst. I get good results with Harvey flux.

Use a big enough torch. The hotter the torch, the faster you can get the job done. Consider MAPP gas instead of propane. The "Turbo-Torch" brand torches are pretty good.

Get it clean. Get it clean. Get it clean! Brushes do a good job, emery cloth does better.

Try to work it so you don't have to heat up anything that can be damaged by heat. Ball valves handle heat pretty good, other types of valves need to be opened or be dismantled to prevent overheating them.

Water is your enemy. Figure out how to completely drain the pipe, otherwise when it heats up water will start coming out and spoil the job. If you have to work on a wet pipe, heat it up several inches away from the joint before you try to solder, and keep reheating it so water can't reach your joint. Solder melts at over 700F, the pipe will never get over 212 as long as there's water in it.

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mnoliverguy

02-26-2011 18:48:47
209.191.196.50



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to MarkB_MI, 02-24-2011 16:30:30  
Mark,

Your ideas are good about heating the pipe farther back. Have you ever tried this trick? It was showed me by a old plumber that I knew. Push a small piece of bread up the pipe it will swell up and stop the water temperarily,when you are done soldering turn the water back on and the bread dissolves. sound crazy, but it works wonders. Has saved me many times.



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MarkB_MI

02-27-2011 03:43:04
166.203.223.152



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to mnoliverguy, 02-26-2011 18:48:47  
Oliver guy,

Yes, I've heard that trick, but never tried it. They also sell pellets you can stick the pipe to do the same thing; haven't tried those either.



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oldfarmtractor

02-24-2011 14:41:10
209.7.93.11



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
I don't know... teaching an old dog new tricks might be a bit difficult but it can happen.

Clean, reclean and flux. Heat and solder.

I don't want to disagree with a previous poster but solder does not flow toward heat, it is a liquid that flows due to capillary action.

When I don't know how to do something, I often check Youtube.com. Search there and you would be surprised on what you can learn.

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David - Alabama

02-24-2011 14:15:02
68.208.116.58



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Nothing to it Larry, with a few pointers. Sand pipe end, fitting inside, apply flux and join. Heat fitting (not pipe) away from joint until soldier will melt at joint. Heat will draw soldier into joint. Do not bump or move work piece for a few seconds or joint may crack. Do not try soldering with ANY water present near joint, steam created by heating joint will blow melted soldier out. Oh! Do not touch work area with unprotected hands. It will burn. Don't ask me how I know this.

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rossow (mn)

02-24-2011 13:12:46
134.29.14.172



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
What others have said -- easy. And don't be afraid to use a pretty robust flame. I started out using a small flame and got frustrated. Once I figure out to open up that valve, it became a piece of cake. Keep the solder out of the flame. Don't apply it until you've heated the joint or the solder will melt before the joint will accept it. Just touch the solder to the heated joint every few seconds and you'll see when it's ready to be drawn in.

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JML755

02-24-2011 12:21:34
66.184.63.110



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Larry,

As others have said, it's easy. Most important thing is flux. Without flux, you could heat copper pipe till the cows come home and it won't work. I tend to skimp on the "bright and shiny" part. Twirl the wire brush a few of times in the female fittings and some emery cloth around the male fittings (and pipe), especially if you're working with new fittings. Just rough it up. Then brush on the flux (both fittings) put them together, heat by moving the torch around the female fitting and the solder will flow into the joint. Sometimes I'll "tin" the male piece first by melting solder on the fluxed end and then wiping it off with a rag. I do that mostly in cramped areas. If the joints you're soldering are close to other joints, wrap a wet rag around the ones you've already done and don't want to compromise with nearby heat.
And like gregger, if I'm doing repairs, I ALWAYS have a few slices of white bread (w/o the crust) handy to stop drips long enough to solder. (Dad taught me that trick over 40 yrs ago)

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SKYBOW

02-24-2011 11:45:26
207.199.233.125



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
I was building my house 15 years ago. I was up on a ladder measuring pipes and wife arrived. She wantted to help. I showed her how to cut the copper pipe with the cutter and to clean and flux the ends. We had a good assembly line going. I gave her the torch and told her,"now you can sweat the fittings together." She said, "I don't know how to do that." I said,"Do you think a plumber is born knowing how to sweat pipe?" I talked her through the first two and then I couldn't get the torch out of her hand. She did one third of the fittings in the house. My buddy said,"That was the smartest thing you could have done." I said, "you mean sharing the load, working together?, our house teamwork?" He said," He77 no now if ever you have a leak it was one of her connections." None have leaked so far.......Very easy to do. Go for it.

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j heitkmper

02-24-2011 13:28:46
98.115.140.14



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to SKYBOW, 02-24-2011 11:45:26  
my ist wife was a lot like that.....



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gregger

02-24-2011 11:24:41
74.206.61.188



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
and the heat will draw the water to it if its a used line -- might sound dumb stuff the pipe with plain ol bread - it"ll stop the moisture long enough to get a good seal



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Dick L

02-24-2011 11:11:13
173.87.50.175



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Main thing to remember is that the solder is drawn toward the heat. You can pull the solder by drawing the flame from the edge of the connection to the center of the coupling/tee/elbow. Don't over heat. Also needs to be dry (free of moisture) It goes without saying the it needs to be bright clean with a wire brush and or steel wool where you want the solder to sweat to both surfaces of the fitting.

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dave2

02-24-2011 11:06:30
139.139.35.70



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Probably one of the simplest things you'll ever learn. Check youtube but it's simple topick it up. Clean is the key. If you are not sure, use PEX or the sharkbite fittings.

Dave



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buickanddeere

02-24-2011 11:03:49
192.75.48.150



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Clean and shinny inside and out is everything.



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thurlow

02-24-2011 10:57:43
74.177.47.185



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to fergienewbee, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
It's not at all difficult.........if you can get to them. Acquaitance burned his house down a few years ago....working on pipes that had frozen. I'd buy a couple of extra fittings and practice a little. Didn't look, but I bet you can find the procedure on youtube.



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kevinj54

02-24-2011 10:37:21
99.39.189.166



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 Re: Time to Learn to Sweat Copper Pipe in reply to s.crum, 02-24-2011 10:30:23  
Quoting Removed, click Modern View to see

Go to a GOOD hardware, not a box store and get some 1/2" pipe, fittings, solder, flux, sand cloth, tube cutter etc and start practicing!!!!

The hardware guy can probably show you the basics.



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