Old Solder

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I'll admit it... I've never soldered anything in my life. So, to replace a corroded, leaky copper elbow joint, my father-in-law instructed me to heat the pipe, pull off the old joint, then replace it... after proper preparation, of course.
The problem is that I heated the old elbow, but nothing happened. I heated the pipe & the elbow... nothing. Couldn't get it off.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as I dread the cost of having a plumber do what seems to be a simple replacement.
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Phillip944 wrote:

What are you using to heat the joint with? You'll need a propane torch at a minimum.
Assuming you've got the right tool, it sounds like you've still got water in the line. You'll need to drain it / blow it out with air in order to heat the joint adequately to remove the elbow.
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Hear are some question Is the water off? did you drain all the water out of pipe? sometimes you can't get all the water out of the pipe, you will never sweat it apart. Are you sure the solder is melting? if so try tapping it apart with a hammer handle GENTLY. Sometimes you have to just cut the pipe add two couplings and an elbow.( you will need a little pipe). If you do get the elbow off place it on a concrete floor take the same hammer you tapped the fitting off with turn it around and flatten the old elbow, Then go buy a new one trust me.
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Did you shut the water off and drain the pipe?
What are you using for heat? A bernz-a-matic torch with the standard (blue) gas cylinders will just barely heat 1/2 inch copper enough for soldering. Any larger pipe, you need mapp (yellow) gas cylinders.
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Rich Greenberg wrote:

I second that - after using propane for years, I finally switched to MAPP gas and it was truly a revelation.
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wrote:

I use a propane torch with an igniter head on it. I've done 1 inch pipe with it for years.
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wrote:

Wow.
I didn't know that. After all these years, I guess the 1 inch water lines I use the propane to solder together are now bad.
Thanks.
<VBG>
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HeatMan wrote:

I wondered about that, too, but thought maybe my experience was unusual.
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Heh.
A MAPP (MPS) cylinder instead of propane indeed makes soldering pipe a lot easier.
But, propane is still perfectly adequate for larger than 1/2" (at least to 1") if you can visually establish that the solder is melting properly - with proper technique, you don't get solder melting at all unless the pipe gets hot enough to do the job right. Just takes longer.
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It's what happens when you use a 1/2" pencil torch without realizing that there's a 1 1/4" jumbo-torch head.
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I agree that there is probably some water left in the pipe. If you are replacing it anyway, drill or cut a small hole in the elbow to let water and steam out.
Before you ever attempt it on the real piping, I would suggest the following: Go to the store to buy the new elbow you need. Get the solder, sand paper, flux, and torch that you will need. Get a tubing cutter also if you need one.
Buy an extra elbow or tee and the shortest piece of copper pipe they will sell.
Sand the inside of the elbow. Sand the outside of the end of the pipe. Flux both pieces. Assemble. Sweat together with the torch and solder. Make sure the pieces are on a brick or some fire safe surface - NOT the concrete floor. Apply heat to the joint. Keep the end of the solder touching the copper - you may melt off several drips. You need to find out and know when the copper is just barely hot enough to draw the solder. It is possible to get the copper too hot and not be able to make a joint, but you need to know the lowest temperature that will work - you can get quite a bit hotter, but you don't want to get it too hot. Once the joint starts to draw the solder, remove the heat and continue to apply the solder until the joint is too cool to melt solder. You have now put a joint together. Now take it apart!!!! you have control of all the variables. You have dry pipe, clean copper, fresh solder, and no tension on the joint. You will need to have a vise or some way to hold the assembled joint (put your foot on it if you won't burn yourself). You will need to get the joint hot enough to melt the solder. Use a pliers to pull the fitting off the pipe. You will now have reasonable experience of all that is involved.
Go forth and conquer. to melt the solder that is holding the joint
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I don't disagree with anything said, but... Frequently it is easier to just cut the old crap out and solder a new section in. Resoldering old parts can be very frustrating. Since you can't get it apart anyhow... but... unless you actually have water running in the pipe, MAP will get hot enough even with a little residual water.
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Phillip944 wrote:

I'd cut it off. BTW, make sure you buy lead-free plumbing solder and some plumber's flux for the re-installation.
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If you'd cut it off, your last name must be Bobbitt !!!
OUCH !!!!
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On Sun, 11 Dec 2005 16:50:48 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.com wrote:

Let me get this straight. You want to do your own plumbing yet you cant even figure out how to unsolder an elbow? If you cant figure that out, how on earth do you think you are going to get it back together correctly? Here is a simple clue: It is a WATER pipe. I wonder what is in it? Bubba
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wrote:

Aw, give him a break. We all had to learn some time or other. First time I did a solder job I had to learn a few things. First time I replaced distributor points in a car engine it took me two hours to get it running again. After I figured out just what I was doing and why I could eyeball them
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wrote:

I
And then there was the time when a tiny amount of water kept me from getting the joint hot. I guess about that time someone pointed out the old plumbers trick of stuffing some bread into the pipe to absorb the water.
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You can't even burn a hole in a dixie cup if there is water on the other side of the cardboard. I used to use a straw and such to get the water out of the pipe before soldering it, but finally I discovered an auto-supply gizmo used to take the acid out of a battery. It is a big squeeze-ball with a narrow tube, and fits into the pipe to get that water out of there, without even wondering where the bread goes. ;-)
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with
No problem with the bread. Just turn on the faucet and out it comes. However, I suppose there might be some instances where you would not want it flowing into the system. Maybe up line of a water softener or heater.
I just suspect the original post was having a problem such as that. One drop of water vaporizing takes a lot of heat away.
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Rich256 wrote:

Through the aerator? :-)

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