Soldering Water Heater Pipes


Old 08-09-02, 09:14 PM
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Soldering Water Heater Pipes

Sir, I have a leaky water heater pipe where 2 pipes are joined. I have tried soldering it with flux, pipe solder and a propane torch and I have had no luck. I have never used solder before, so I went with what the directions said. I cleaned the area, applied flux, heated the area and applied the solder. The solder kept beading up and falling off the pipe. I ended up melting away the flux every time I do it, so I tried without flux, just to get the same result. Now my pipe is leaking worse (it is almost just pouring out instead of a drip). What am I doing wrong and what is your suggestion for what to do in the meantime? A quick reply would be very helpful and thankful.
Thank You For Your Time, leonardca
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Old 08-09-02, 09:32 PM
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If you are talking copper pipe, you aren't getting joints hot enough to melt the solder. It should melt and flow completely around the pipe and under fitting.
Old 08-09-02, 09:39 PM
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Sorry, seem to forget sometimes others haven't done this before. Flux keeps rust out, so use it each time. Even if you can't see it,it is there. heat fitting, not solder or flux.

Old 08-10-02, 12:46 AM
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sounds like a water problem. You have to get every tiny bit of water out of the pipe before you can sweat it. if any water remains you will either not be able to get the pipe hot enough or the water will turn to steam and foul the repair. Shut off your main supply, open a fixture above and below if you can to facilitate drainage. If your problem is in a portion of the system that cannot be drained by gravity then you will need to cut it open to drain the water. you also must pull apart the offending fittiing. all the way apart. sand down the inside and out with abrasive cloth till they are both smooth and shiny. reflux, reinsert and apply heat again. heat the fitting, not the pipe. wait until the pipe is hot enough to take solder when you first touch it to the pipe, dont hold the solder against it and wait for it to take. also leave a nearby valve or fixture open to let expanding air escape.

good luck.
Old 08-12-02, 11:57 AM
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Leonetc, did you separate the fittings and thoroughly sand the mating surfaces before applying flux? I don't mean to offend, but not knowing your level of experience, I just thought I would ask.
Old 08-14-02, 03:03 PM
Bill Locke
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Soldering copper pipes

Since I don't have the patience to wait for the whole house to drain thru the pipe that I want to sweat. I take a piece of bread and stuff it into the pipe above the repair point. It stops the water coming down from upstairs long enough to complete repairs. As it gets soggy, it disintegrates and expells thru the closest faucet if you have the foresight to take out any screens that might plug up. I have heard of biodegradable plugs that do the same thing, but have never seen them for sale. (one drop of water is enough to kill a good sweat job) Good luck!
Old 08-16-02, 11:42 AM
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Hold the flame of the touch on the back side of the fitting. What you are trying to do is heat the fitting (and pipe inside) enough to melt the so solder as it touches the pipe. Also if there is ANY water in the pipe you will not be able to heat it enough to solder it. So you might have to shut off the supply and drain the pipe.

Step 1. heat and remove the fitting if possible.

Step 2. Clean the fitting and end of the pipe(s) so that it shines. Do not touch the cleaned surface with your fingers (this will cause the solder not to go to that spot)

Step 3. Apply a even coating of good quality flux to both the fitting and the pipe. (again being careful not to touch the cleaned area with your fingers.

Step 4. Connect the fitting and pipe being sure the pipe seats all the way into the fitting.

Step 5. Apply heat (as evenly as possible) to the fitting.

Step 5b. Occasionally place solder where the pipe enters the fitting while heating to test for proper temperature. Do not hold the solder in the flame.

Step 6. When solder starts to run like water it will be sucked into the join (remove heat).

Step 7. Let the joint and pipe cool. As it is cooling you may use a wet rag to gently wipe the excess solder. It is good to wipe toward the fitting.

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