Copper solder joints leaky

I recently fired the contractor who was doing some patio construction for me. One of the things left was to finish the plumbing from a 1/2" copper tubing (.032" wall) water supply (which extends upward from the slab) to an outside sink and hose bib. I had never done copper soldering before, but the people at Home Depot people said it is simple. I soldered several connections using the combination flux/solder in paste form, that you apply with a brush. I applied the solder, assembled the connection, then heated. Every one of the connections leaked! I decided to go PVC, so I ripped it all out and used a comperssion fitting to go from copper to PVC. Well, the compression fitting leaked, too.
I could understand one or two of the solder joints leaking due to my inexperience, but all of them? Is copper soldering not as simple as I have been told? Could the solder have been bad? Am I incompetent?
Also, all the remaining copper supply line that sticks out of the slab has a slight curve to it. Is it impossible to get a good compression connection if there is any curve in the tubing? I really like to do this kind of small stuff myself, but maybe I should just give up and call a pro...
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Wayne
The soldering of copper is simple if it is done right. First clean both the fitting and copper tube. This applies to every joint being soldered Apply Flux Assemble joint Heat the joint until the flux paste is bubbling and keep heat toward the center of the fitting. Solder follows the heat. So add the solder to the fitting until it is drawn into the fitting and a little bb forms. Then solder other half of the fitting. Let cool do not move or disturb in any way. When joint is cool wipe with cotton rag and it should be a top quality solder joint.
Practice if you have an extra few pieces to work with.
Believe in yourself, control your heat and everything should turn out fine.
Good luck
Powerhorse
Plumbing is not an exact science.

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Now you're making sense.
MM
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Wayne wrote:

You left ONE thing out of your description, and if you also left it out of what you did, then that's probably why the joints leaked.
That was to CLEAN (with abrasive paper or wire brushes) the outside ends of the tubing AND the insides of the fittings just before you applied the flux/solder.
If you DIDN'T do that and didn't get the mating surfaces nice and pink-clean, that's probably why you didn't get decent joints.

Probably so, but inexperienced would be a more polite term.
And, we were all incompetant in everything save sucking on a tit when we entered this world.

If it's curved enough to be "oval" in cross section, you're likely to have a problem even if you got King Kong to tighten the nut on the compression fitting for you
You could try twisting a length of teflon pipe sealing tape into a "string" and wrapping 1-1/2 to 2 turns of that around the pipe behind the ferrule so that it gets squished down inside the nut when you tighten it. That form of "packing" has worked for me more than once, because it seals to all three things, the pipe, the ferrule and the inside of the nut. YMMV, and my advice is guaranteed for exactly as much as you just paid for it here. <G>
I really like to do this kind of small

Any comments by me encouraging you on would likely bring the wrath of much of the group down upon me. Plumbing does have important health implications that the average person never knows or thinks about, so learn before you do.
HTH,
Jeff
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My name is Jeff Wisnia and I approved this message....

(W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
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Jeff
i like the idea of using teflon tape as packing
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Sweating pipe is not hard. But you really have to get a feel for it. Most of these plumbers around here have hit thousands and thousands of joints with that torch. At this point, they take it for granted.
If you're leaking everywhere, yeah - you should hire a pro. Find a plumber to help you on the side. Pay him well and not only will he help you out, he'll even teach you some of those trade secrets (like you can't sweat wet pipe....like don't hold your torch DIRECTLY under your work....like make sure there is nothing flammable nearby....like yes, the pool of solder is shimmery and pretty - but don't pick it up....)
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In my original post forgot to mention that I did clean all inside and outside surfaces with steel wool. Thanks for the responses. Because there is not a lot of pipe left sticking out of the slab, there is not much room for error. I think I will call a pro to finish it up. I can practice soldering joints on some other project.
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