Can't do simple freaking soldering on brass pipe

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You were using silver solder before? Oh my, that was your problem. Propane is usually difficult with silver solder even on very small items. On 1" pipe? Not a chance. MAPP wouldn't do it either.
Silver ("hard") solder is _not_ for plumbing. You want soft tin-based solder.
You should be able to do a 1" joint with a regular propane torch, but it's not easy.
I switched to MAPP cylinders on my propane torch (which some people claim isn't any hotter than propane because the venturi isn't quite right, but, it helps for me) and don't have any trouble with 1".
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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Thanks! There's lots of great info on that forum. I think I have multiple problems. I don't think I got the joints clean enough, although I tried. I think I apparently used the wrong type of flux. I also had flux outside of the joint and I just now read that there shouldn't be any flux outside of the joint. Then, I think I also had temperature issues, either trying when it was too hot or when it wasn't hot enough. Then I followed someone else's advice to actually apply heat to the solder. That apparently is wrong because it can oxidize the solder and cause it not to flow properly. I think that explains some of the weird behavior of the solder that I was seeing.
This project is deceptively difficult. :) It's much harder than it looks!
Thanks!
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Yup. There are many factors. Flux on the tube (pipe) outside the joint is ok. Flux on the outside of the coupling is just a waste.
Use a good tinning flux (the green stuff) from a fresh container. The water soluble stuff is for the pro's. Heat the joint, not the tube. Do not expose the solder directly to the flame. For 1 inch pipe, you'll need a lot of heat and will probably have to "draw" the solder around the joint with the heat.

Once you get bigger than 3/4 inch you're in a whole new world. It most definitely isn't the place to be learning. You can pick up some 1/2 inch couplings and a short piece of tube fairly cheap while you are at HD buying some tinning flux. Practice on the 1/2 until you can get it right then go do the 1 inch understanding that the propane torch doesn't have enough heat to do the entire joint at once. You'll have to get the solder melt started and then draw it around using the heat of the torch on the base/middle of the coupling. If you try to do the whole joint at once it will likely continue to be a bad day.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

So is playing a violin. <G>
Ah feel your pain, and as others have said, i" copper pipe OUTSIDE in a breeze with a "standard" sized Bernz-O-Matic propane torch ain't going to be a piece of cake, it's too difficult to get the whole fitting heated up to the right temperature, particularly if you can't hit the fitting from all sides with the torch because of obstructions.
I've got a "large" sized Bernz-O-Matic torch head with a burner about 1-1/4" diameter which fits a standard propane can but puts out a lot more heat, I've done 1" copper with it nos sweat. (pun intentional. <G>)
Also, the current "health safe" lead free solders have a higher melting temperature than to good olde tin-lead solders I grew up with. You may have better luck if you get some "60-40" solder, it's still sold, and for use on a sprinkler system the lead certainly won't be poisoning anyone.
If all else fails, why not just pick up some compression fittings and if you need it a short length of "extra" 1" copper pipe.
HTH,
Jeff
--
Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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A compression fitting wouldn't work. The piece I'm trying to repair is just a straight piece of pipe that originally had a one-inch coupling soldered in the middle of it. The solder joint broke because of the ground moving over the winter. It doesn't look like it was a good joint to begin with, though.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Is there some reason you can't use TWO compression couplers with maybe a 6" long piece of 1" copper pipe between them? you could cut back the currently buggered up ends of the existing pipe and put the new stuff in.
Thas why I worded my last sentence as I did.
Good Luck,
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

This is the kind of coupling I was thinking about. I'd be suprised if you couldn't get by with just ONE of them.
http://tinyurl.com/2lpmrp
Am I missing something?
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Silver solder is _much_ higher melting temperature than normal tin solders and is typically only commonly used for HVAC purposes where the higher pressure requirements require it. To successfully use it w/ 1" copper will take at least a MAAP gas torch.
That, and as someone else noted, the water-soluble flux isn't what I would normally use, but make sure it's compatible w/ the particular solder you're using.
Again, a few extra bucks for some smaller copper pieces to practice on is a worthwhile investment at this point if you're going to try to finish your project yourself. And, it definitely is a worthwhile facility to learn.
As for fixing up your disaster so far, if you can get it cleaned up neatly, you can use it. But, the silver solder is an issue if you've got some of it in the areas that needs cleanup because the two types won't be miscible nor melt at the same temperature so getting a good joint may be a problem.
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It definitely sounds like I need to get some different solder and flux. I've got the wrong tools for the job. After spending $30 on a propane torch, I'm not going to spend another $50 on a MAPP torch, but I will try to get some tin solder and non-water-soluble flux that is compatible with the solder. If that doesn't work then I'm just going to hire a pro to do it.
Thanks! I've definitely learned a lot. I probably should have stopped by here before I attempted this project. But then I might not have appreciated or understood the advice as well if I hadn't failed first.
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I just did a bit more reading on that forum and see that others have had a horrible time with the water-soluble flux, as well. They recommended Oatey #95, whatever that is. Is that something that Home Depot would carry? If so, what flux should I get?
Thanks!
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HD should have a couple brands. Me, I don't use Oatey, I go for the Lennox. Other folks like the Oatey 95.
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That's most of your problem. Forget the silver solder. That stuff is a pain in the butt; the melting temperature is much too high, especially for someone who's never done this before. Forget the water-soluble flux, too.
Get some regular lead-free solder, not the silver stuff. Then look for Oatey No. 95 Lead Free Tinning Flux, or Harvey's Soldering Paste.
Clean the pipe and the fittings with emory cloth or sandpaper. Make sure the pipe is clean a half-inch beyond the fitting. Flux both the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe.
Light up your torch, and heat the fitting ONLY. DO NOT heat the pipe. There's enough contact between the two that the pipe will get hot enough anyway. What you want to avoid is heating the pipe up enough that it expands into the fitting and prevents solder from wicking into the joint. Instead, you want to expand the fitting away from the pipe a bit, to make it easier for the solder to get in there. Again, DON'T HEAT THE PIPE. Just the fitting. After about twenty seconds, touch the solder to the seam between pipe and fitting, on the side away from the torch. If the solder doesn't melt into the seam immediately, withdraw it and continue heating. Try again another five or ten seconds later; repeat as needed until the solder flows readily into the joint.

That'll work for 1" pipe -- it just takes longer. MAPP works better.
By the way, the "4 to 5 seconds" you said you saw on some web site is surely for a MAPP torch on 1/2" pipe. No way in the world are you going to get a 1" pipe hot enough to solder in four seconds even with MAPP, let alone propane.

You're well off to heed dpb's advice to get some 1/2 pipe and fittings, and practice. You're looking at maybe another ten bucks in materials. Follow the procedure I described above, and you'll have the hang of it in half an hour. And then you'll have acquired a new skill. It's really not as hard as some folks would have you believe. I think your biggest problem here is using the wrong materials.

You should be able to continue with that joint, if you clean it thoroughly first.
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Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Well, in this case, I have a very crappy solder joint that goes about 80% of the way around the fitting. I wasn't able to get the solder to stick to that remaining 20%. I think that's because of the things we've already mentioned: wrong materials, lack of experience. Maybe I should just heat up that joint and pull the pipe out of it, then find some way to get all that old solder off and start over. If I can't do that, I'm going to have to cut the pipe against and start completely over from scratch. I may end up doing that anyway because I suspect that joint I was talking about would fail completely pretty soon. I don't think the solder wicked down into the fitting.
Thanks! John
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Many times, you can brush the fitting, sand the pipe, re-flux, and do it all over again.
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Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

1" pipe is too large for many household propane torches.
What sort of torch are you using? Does the flux get hot enough to make the surface of the pipe visibly deoxidized?
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snipped-for-privacy@phred.org is Joshua Putnam
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I was using a propane torch, but today I went to the store and bought some non-silver solder and a MAPP torch. I also got some great advice from the guy I bought the stuff from. He lightly scolded me for not asking them how to do it first! He says (and I believe him) that he could have saved me a lot of money and time. I certainly would have at least had the right materials for the job if I had asked him first.
I'm about to go out and try this again. I'll let you all know how it turns out.
Thanks! John
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wrote:

I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that the MAPP torch and the new solder worked great! I was out there--in the wind!-- soldering like a mad man and my repair worked first try. It doesn't look great, but it's working.
The bad news is that I turned on my sprinkler system. :-( The first zone turned on just as I was hoping it would. Then I moved on to the second zone...but the first zone won't shut off. I'm pretty sure the valve in my valve box is stuck open now. There might be a rock or something in it, I guess. I'm not much of a sprinkler repairman, either! lol
So, I guess I have a new task ahead of me. Open up that black widow- infested valve box and take that valve apart. I've done it before, but it was about seven years ago.
Do any of you know anything about sprinkler system valves? lol
Thanks for all your help, I literally couldn't have done it without your advice!
John
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