good choice for first-time plumbing repair?

I've got a leaky hot-water pipe joint that feeds the dishwasher. Leaks from the tee where the shut-off valve is, under the sink. Is this a good choice for my first-ever DIY plumbing attempt? I'm plenty handy with wood and electrical, but haven't attempted plumbing. I've got the flux/solder/etc, and have watched a zillion shows and read a zillion books, Whaddayathink? Can I just resolder the thing, or does it have to come apart and go back together again?
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Sure! It's cramped under sinks and a little hard to work under there, but why not? You might look into compression fitting the new shut off if the pipe is clean and undamaged. Less dangerous than sweating a new fitting in - no flames.
For the record, my first plumbing project - besides replacing the fill valve in the toilet - was replacing a water heater. No different than eating an elephant: you do it one bite at a time.
- Wm
--
William Morris
Tailor, Seamlyne reProductions
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dont snipped-for-privacy@no.spam wrote:

To give your question a direct answer. If it's leaking from a soldered joint between copper piping and a fitting, don't try and fix it by just reheating the joint or piling solder on the outside.
Far and away the principle reason soldered plumbing joints leak is that the installer either didn't properly clean and flux both the pipe and the inside of the fitting before heating them and applying solder, or he/she didn't heat the joint area enough so that it reached soldering temperatures all the way away around the fitting. You can't clean the mating surfaces while the pipe and fitting are still together, and no amount of heating will make solder wet onto dirty surfaces.
If you're going to fix the leak by resoldering, you will have to disassemble things to accomplish the job.
Soldering copper plumbing is almost a no-brainer, providing you do three things correctly:
1. The srfaces which will be wet with solder have to be clean and bright. This is can be accomplished with abrasive cloth or wire brushing, but it must be complete with no traces of "brown" (oxidized copper) left.
2. Flux has to be applied to all the surfaces to be joined.
3. Enough heat has to be applied with a torch all around the fitting so that wire solder will melt immediately when touched to the juncture at the end of the fitting and the pipe, immediately after the torch flame is moved away. When done properly, the solder will melt, get sucked into the joint and "run" all around the fitting without further effort. (Don't bump or move the pipe until you've waited long enough for the solder to chill.)
In tight quarters you can shield walls or other things you don't want scorched with two or three folded layers of kitchen aluminum foil. It'll reflect the heat away fine, as long as you don't play the torch directly onto it.
That being said, there's nothing wrong with using compression fittings for a repair job like the one you're describing. You might want to aquire a pipe cutter if you don't already have one. They make nice little cutters for close quarter work which will swing around a pipe that's only an inch or so away from a wall. It's much easier to use one of those than trying to bull your way through copper with a hacksaw while cramped under a sink.
Good luck,
Jeff
-- Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can keep smiling when things go wrong, you've thought of someone to place the blame on."
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A word of advice - you will not be able to melt the solder unless you get all of the water out of the pipe. This can be difficult with a dishwasher. In your case, opening the kitchen taps and/or removing the top of the shut-off valve may do the job .
The proper way to do this job would be to turn the water off at the main shut-off (basement?), open the kitchen taps and a tap somewhere lower than the dishwasher (basement?), remove the top of the shut-off valve if it is a tap-washer style so you don't melt the rubber washer and to let air into the pipe (or disconnect it at the union if it has one), heat and pull the leaky joint apart, clean the pipes (by heating them and wiping with a rag), replace any removed fittings with new ones (they are cheap and difficult to re-use successfully).
Be sure to clean all surfaces to be soldered with sand paper and use proper (lead-free) solder and flux.
Plumbing is fairly easy so you should have no difficulties if you are handy...
John

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