Soldering Copper Pipes

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Beginner: I've done loads of plumbing work, mostly on the kind of ancient pipes which threaten to crumble and fall apart as you're working on them. Soldering pipe is the only missing skill here. I've soldered LOADS of wire of all kinds.
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Good point. In the past, propane was all that was needed with lead based solder. Newer lead free solders have a higher melt temperature and MAPP gas burns hotter.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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Propane's still hot enough.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Ditto the MAPP gas.
I will never use propane again. My investment in a mapp gas torch/bottle was about $25 at Lowes. It works *much* faster than propane and if there is a little moiture left, it can be hot enough to overcome that.
It's not that hard and it's a good skill to have in your arsenal.
-s

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I just read some of the comments about MAPP vs. propane.
I use a propane torch on all my copper water piping, no matter if it's domestic or boiler work. I also use 95/5 on everything. There are times that if you don't pay close attention to the flow of the solder, you'll cook the joint and either have to use silver or totally cut the joint out and use additional fittings.
The only time I use MAPP is for using silver solder for refrigerant lines.
I just finished a job that I used a propane torch on piping up to 1.25". It may have meant the job taking 20 minutes longer,but I felt it was worth it.

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What do you mean by "cook the joint"? Actually melt the bejeezus out of the pipe ends? Or does excess heat ruin the surface of the pipe, making it unable to accept solder correctly?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Yes. In my experience, too much heat/time will drive off the flux and oxidize the surface, if solder doesn't get there in time. The answer is to start over, cleaning the surface and refluxing. --Phil
--
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@cc.ysu.edu Youngstown State University
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times
and
lines.
the
I'll admit, back when I was starting out, I cooked a couple of copper solder joints. No amount of sanding and fluxing would bring one of those back, so I had to add a coupling
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Soldering copper pipe is SOOOOOOO easy once you get the hang of it. But I would say the most common mistakes are too much heat, poor cleaning, and no flux.
It is a breeze with good cleaning, a little flux, and the right amount of heat. What a lot of people do is put the heat in the wrong place. Heat a little away from the joint so that you heat up the pipe, and let the solder flow and be "sucked into" the joint.
Not rocket surgery, but a little tricky.
Steve
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wrote

Sounds exactly the same as soldering wires & circuit boards properly.
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Except ALOT easier and more forgiving than circuit boards. After you do 5 right, you'll know how easy it is.
I also recommend the wipe with a damp rag while the solder is still molten....it gets rid of globs and looks SO professional.
--
Joe

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wrote

back,
I
of
a
I wear a pair of inexpensive cotton jersey gloves and wipe with them. As long as I pay attention to the condition of the glove, I don't get burned and the joints look good.
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The opposite of how I was taught by a guy that soldered hundreds of joints in heating coils all day long. Heat the fitting, not the tube to suck in the solder.
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wrote in message

As it turns out, it'll be easier than getting the plumber to actually call back. This could be the best reason in the world to learn to do it myself. Why should I pay someone who takes a week to call back, after supposedly "checking to see who's got the regulators"?
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wrote:

This wording could be misleading. Let's clarify: heat the *fitting* a little bit away from the joint.
(It sounds like you're advising to heat the pipe, and that's wrong.)
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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wrote:

Of course. The pipe would act like a heat sink. Not only that, but you might instinctively grab the pipe to steady yourself as you got off the ladder. That would result in a stream of obscenities which would frighten the children and piss off your wife. At that point, nobody knows what could happen next.
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I disagree. Heat the pipe first, then the fitting a little away from the joint. Both the pipe and fitting should be hot so the solder will adhere to both. Just don't overheat either one or you will "burn the joint". You want the solder to suck into the joint by capillary action.
Stretch
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This is incorrect.

Right, and that's exactly why you heat the fitting only, and not the pipe: to expand the fitting slightly so that capillary action will wick the solder into the joint. If you heat the pipe, you risk expanding the pipe so much that it's not possible to get enough solder into the joint to make a proper seal. There is enough contact between the pipe and the fitting that heating only the fitting gets the pipe plenty hot enough to do the job.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Doug,
That's funny.
When they first came out with copper tubing and fittings back in the late 40s to early 50s, All the fittings were cast brass. They all had grooves cut inside around the fitting, 1/2 way down the socket, because they believed the solder would not draw in if the fitting was tight. There was a hole drilled in the side of the fitting so you could feed the solder into the groove. They made them that way for about 10 years. Then they started taking old joints apart and found that the solder sucked up inside the socket even if the fitting was tight. Of course it is not so easy to take the wrot fittings apart, so you don't see that. When I started plumbing, my grandfather had us young guys clean old brass fittings, because in those days we salvaged them and used them over if they were in good shape (he learned to do that during WWII because it was hard to get new fittings and pipe at any price). So I spent my spare tine taking old joints apart and saving the fittings. The solder sucked up inside the tight ones just fine. Now we have forgotten that. Maybe you should start buying fittings with grooves inside them again.
Heat the tubing a little, then the fitting, then apply the solder. Then take it apart. You will find the solder sucked inside just fine. If you are brazing and don't heat the pipe at all, you will get a very shallow joint. If you take the joints apart, you will see what I mean.
Stretch
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Maybe you could quote a little context when you post, so that we don't have to guess at what you're talking about?

[snip ancient history]

You can make your soldered joints any way you like. But you should realize that you're doing newbies a disservice when you advise them to heat the pipe and the fitting: that's *not* the best way to make the joints. The joints are easier to make, and less likely to leak, when only the fitting is heated. It's just plain silly to advise someone who's never soldered copper before to heat the pipe first. There is a better and easier way to do it.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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