I've noticed a pinhole leak in a copper "T" joint in our basement. The
leak is coming from the bottom of the "T" and it appears to be the
solder that's leaking, not the copper. Is it ok to just "sweat" some
more solder into that joint to stop the leak or should I be replacing
the entire "T"? Cutting the "T" out and redoing everything to get rid
of the leak seems painful ...
These previous threads have addressed this
First you must get all the water out, sometimes not all that easy. You may
have to cut a coupling in. You can try and reheat the T re solder it. When
the pipe is hot put flux on it. If this dose not work then you might be
better off replacing the T . It might just be a case of bad prep, missed a
spot with flux something on the pipe if you do pull the T spend some time
cleaning pipe ends and T and make sure you cover it all with flux.
It is difficult to get all the water out of the pipe to get a good solder
job. Try it. It may work. Then again, if not, the thing to do is cut it
out, and DON"T sweat in another T, but use compression fittings. Cut, cut,
cut, put in the new pieces, and wrench them tight. Be sure to get good
straight cuts, and don't smash the pipe. You may have to use one of the
mini cutters. Just cut slowly, twisting the tensioner one turn at a time,
then three rotations around the pipe.
It doesn't hurt to try. First drain all the water out of the pipe. Sometimes
I have had to hook up my wet/dry shopvac to a lower area and open all the
valves in upper areas to get the water out. Keep it running for 15 - 20
minutes, the water will want to move slowly. You may not succeed in removing
it all from the "tee", if not you may have to cut the pipe and fit new pipe
and fittings in.
Second, clean about 1 inch of the pipe, the full end of the "tee" paying
particular attention to the edge of the "tee" where the pipe fits in, you
must have clean copper or shiny solder showing. Slather on some flux. Then
heat it with your torch. If the water is out of the fitting it will heat up
until the existing solder melts, at this point add some more, try to build
up a fillet over the edge of the "tee" and along a bit of the pipe. If you
succeed, you will have sealed it. Sometimes the lead-free solder will not
work well, I find adding some older lead/tin solder will help seal the
joint. The inside of the joint is full of lead-free solder, so little will
ever come in contact with the water.
Let it cool, close all the valves and turn on the water, open each valve one
at a time to let the air out. Check your joint for leaks. Hopefully you will
Often the cause is insufficient cleaning prior to soldering. Over the
years I've had good luck draining, heating and pulling the joint apart
then recleaning and resoldering. You may have to cut the tubing to the
left or right of the T to get it to drain completely but you can
rejoin the cut sections with a coupling. BTDT.
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