I am going to replace the gate valves in my home the ball valves, so I
have been reading up on sweating joints. Briefly, the advice is to heat
the valve, then heat the line, then heat the valve while applying the
solder, then wipe the joint with a wet rag. My question is, since there
will be two joints at each valve, should I solder both before wiping
with the rag, or should I complete one, and then do the other. I am a
bit concerned that if I fully complete one, I may undo it while doing
the second, while if I wait to wipe until I have done both, the first
will have cooled to where the wiping will be ineffective.
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Heat the valve...not the line. Sweat both sides and then wipe. Don't admire
your work on the first joint....immediately proceed to the second joint,
sweat, then wipe, then admire your work. This is a quick process...no dilly
dallying...you don't want the valve to cool down until you're finished
sweating both ends. You don't mention flux....I assume your fluxing the
joint, yes? and really cleaning both ends of the pipe and reaming the pipe
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Or, you can "protect" the valve by putting a wet rag around the
working part of the valve. That will keep it cooler so you
don't overheat the valve itself. Just keep the wet rag away
from the area that you are soldering.
As a 30+ year user of torch and flux, I say "To Hell with torch
and flux", because I discovered Copper-Bond, a 2-part epoxy
for copper pipes and fittings.
And I've gotten damned good with it. Even though I routinely trained
people on how to properly use a torch for plumbing. My torch now
just happens to be........somewhere in the garage
Others gave you good advice, but left out one step. Practice. Buy a length
of copper tubing and a few fittings. Solder a few joints.
Keep in mind, the solder is going to coat the tubing and the inside of the
fitting. It will be drawn into the fitting by the heat as the solder melts.
Once proper temperature has been reached, it only takes a couple of seconds.
For half inch tubing, it will take about 1/2" of the solder to make the
Try a vertical joint. You will be able to suck the solder up when you hit
the heated joint. If you want to be sure of what you are doing, make a
letter "P" with one fitting adapable to a hose so you can presurize it to
test for leaks. Put together the hose end, tubing, tee, tubing elbow,
tubing, elbow, tubing, elbow, finally one piece of tubing from the last
elbow into the tee.
The biggest problem with sweating joints is not having sufficient heat.
I don't mean flame temperature I mean heat (energy.) The thermal mass
of a goods sized ball valve is substantial and a small propane torch is
not going to be able to raise the temperature of the valve quickly
enough to avoid also overheating and damaging the ball seals. A good
MAPP torch is the minimum I'd use. Most times I reach for my acetylene
torch for ball valves.
William Brown wrote:
Ditto on the MAPP gas, many torches these days will take both gasses.
I got a fancy (T501) Bernzomatic torch, which does a real good job of
heating up joints, like 2x faster than the plain torch, which worked
fine till I dropped and broke it. Something about the swirl tip. Instant
on/off is a nice thing to have as well.
I sweat a lot when I have joints in the house. Drugs are illegal, and
it makes me nervous when they are in the house, and thus i sweat.
I also think replacing your balls is a real stupid idea, and painful.
I have found Oatey Instant Lead Free Solder to be much, much easier to use
than regular solder. If the pipe is 3/4" or larger, use regular solder to
"cap" the joint, if you want to absolutely sure that the joint is sealed,
although I haven't had any problems just using the Instant Solder alone.
It's virtually foolproof, and it's available at Home Depot.
Also, use a MAPP gas torch when sweathing ball valves, and be sure the pipes
are really dry before you start. It might take several hours to drain
completely, even with all the faucets open. Be patient. Open any nearby
drain valves on other gate valves, as well as all faucets in your home.
Nothing stops solder from flowing like a drop of water in the pipe.
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