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.
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.
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.
In article ,
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.
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
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
(top posted for your convenience)
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
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.
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?
Even with no water in the pipes and adequate heat you will occasionally
run into joints which are locked up "tighter than a bull's ass in fly
season" due to intermetallic componds which have formed in the soldered
areas. If you can "twist" the heated joint you sometimes hear a
screetching noise when they turn, and with enough rocking back and forth
while pulling the joint apart they'll finally come loose.
I agree that sometimes it's better to just give up and cut out the
fitting, then solder in whatever new parts are needed to get things back
as you want them.
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
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.
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. ;-)
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.