sweat soldering with lead free solder

I have done a fair amount of sweat soldering but have never used lead free solder. Any tips appreciated, replacing all water supply lines in a 50+ year old house.
Thanks,
Walt Conner
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Walt Conner wrote:

Same process, just takes a little bit more heat. Grab some fittings and practice at the workbench before you dive in. Make the fitting and pipe shiny clean.
Plan ahead to use metal heat shields in tight spots; wet down exposed wood which might ignite due to the higher temps.
One other caution in a house that age. Very often back then the cold water supply pipes were used as the grounding means for switch/outlet boxes and fixtures, especially in kitchen and bath. If they did, when you abandon the old piping all those grounds will be lost. If running new grounding conductors to each box is not *possible*, at least clamp bonding jumpers between the old and new. And before someone hollers that Code doesn't allow that, they're correct. In cases like this though, I think half a loaf is better than none...
Jim
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It may be worse than none.
If there's an interruption in the pipe bonding at any point, a hot-ground short anywhere "downstream" of the interruption will make the whole segment of pipe live - which will include any fixtures AND any other device with a grounded case. Ie: any metal framed device with a third prong - like your home computer, the fridge, etc.
It's generally not a good idea to fool around with using pipe as grounding conductor on a renovation unless you're prepared to prove out every ground (and don't mind violating code).
GFI's are a better choice if you can't run/don't have real grounding conductors.
As an additional hint to the OP - you'll find that MPS (aka MAPP) gas cylinders make soldering a bit easier, even on the leaded solder. It runs a bit hotter than propane.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Agreed, but why not just bite the bullet and get an acetylene bottle and torch. They're not that expensive, particularly if you have access to pawn shops. If you're doing an entire house it is well worth it.
Boden
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This is really unnecessary on 1/2" and 3/4" copper.
A most useful tool is something like:
http://www.plumbingsupply.com/tools.html
The torch at the top of this page will use propane or MAPP gas and will operate in any position. Big box stores carry something similar for less $.
Silver solder melts and flows at a higher temp than the older leaded solder. MAPP gas burns hotter than propane and works like a charm with silver solder.
Get a heat shield of some sort as well.
Jeff Dantzler
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Granted. But the GFI won't afford any protection in the case of a conductor in contact with the metal switchbox in a bath (example). Nor does it protect against the metal frame of (bath) lighting fixtures becoming hot (common failure).
If OP ensures that the new copper pipe (Cold) is continuous back to the service (meter) and is bonded to the electrical service he will have substantially greater safety protection than if all the previously grounded boxes were left "floating". (As noted earlier, the abandoned stubs of galv pipe must be effectively bonded to the new Cold copper.)
I would definitely test each switch/outlet/fixture for an effective ground after the re-pipe. And test with a substantial load, not a neon tester.
Jim
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There's an element of truth there, but for the most part, not really true. The only time a GFI won't protect you is if you provide the path between hot and neutral and _nothing_ escapes any other way.
If, say, a metal switchbox or lighting fixture goes hot, and you touch it, what happens? To get a jolt, you have to complete the circuit to _something_. That something will probably _not_ be the neutral wire, it'll almost always be something with some sort of path to ground. Hence the GFI will trip.

Yes, if tested out carefully.

Right. See the electricsal wiring FAQ for testeing.
--
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Chris Lewis wrote:

Whoa! That assumes that there is a GFI protecting the lighting circuits too. Actually, replacing the circuit breakers/fuses with GFCI units on all branch ckts serving kitchen and bath would be a big step toward ensuring safety in cases like this.
On another tangent: Consider the case of a bath with recept, wall switch, wall lighting fixture and shower stall waterproof fixture, served by several branch ckts. All of the boxes were originally grounded at one point to the Cold water supply pipe in the bath. If the pipe is removed, ground is lost and *all* the boxes are floating together. Now, assume a fault or even leakage current to just *one* of the boxes. That makes *ALL* of the boxes, including the shower stall light live! Jim
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Thanks to all for the advice on sweat soldering and concern about grounding. Actually, the house has just been completely rewired from the weather head, new meter box, breaker box, ground rod and all new wiring. NO old wire is utilized and soon, no old piping will be utilized, waste nor water supply. (Except waste as it exits the basement wall)
Walt Conner
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snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Can one use MAPP gas with a torch designed for propane or does it require a special torch? Thank you in advance for all replies.
--
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Daniel Prince wrote:

It will burn in a normal propane torch, but I guess it *might* overheat if you use it for long periods at a time. I burn propylene in a propane torch without any problems, and propylene burn about like MAPP gas. (I have a small bulk propylene tank that holds about 10 pounds, and I transfer the gas to an appropriately marked 14 ounce propane tank using an adapter fitting)
Best regards, Bob
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Hi,
It is the same process as sweating leaded solder. Clean the areas to be soldered with sandpaper or a pipe cleaning brush. Put your flux on the joints to be sweated. Keep flame towards the back or center of the coupling and when it gets hot enough the solder will suck in. Pull the flame away as it sucks in and take a look see. On stuff under an inch you probably won't need to move the flame too much if it wraps around the pipe. I usually move it from top to bottom just to make sure I am sucking the solder in all the way around though. Most people let the flame wrap around the pipe.
candice
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Walt Conner wrote:

etc. it seemed to work OK, never even knew i was using lead free solder.. told the guy at the local hardware(ace) with the owner on the scene what i wanted and he pulled it off the shelf for me...........
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Much the same. Polish pipe and brush fitting. Apply flux to pipe. Put together. Wait a minute or two for flux to work. Apply heat to fitting. Apply solder to edge where fitting and pipe meet. Wipe off excess flux with wet cloth. Check with a miror to see if solder got all the way around.
My boss and I ahve had great luck with Sterling Taramet.
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Christopher A. Young
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Chris, in 22 years I have never waited for the flux to work.
Flux is used not as a cleaner but as an oxidizer prevented. When you soldier the copper pipe oxidizes. The flux prevents this and allows the soldier to attach and bond with pure copper. If it was oxidized the soldier would not bond, or you could get a cold joint.
Some acid type soldiers 'clean' the copper. However, I never recommend them even with Stay Bright soldier.
Rich
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wrote:

I have tried 3 different types of flux for my lead free soldering of copper joints.. The StaBrite liquid solder is absolutely horrible. Avoid it. The Plumbcraft Soldering Paste is much better. The Oatey No.95 Lead Free Tinning Flux is absolutely perfect.
PJ
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