Leaking solder joint

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Old 12-16-02, 11:12 PM
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Leaking solder joint

I have a copper "T" fitting near my hot water heater that has been tight and dry for months. I was in the garage today and noticed that this guy all of a sudden decided to start dripping water.

Can I repair this simply by heating the joint and adding solder? Or must I remove and replace the fitting? If it must be removed, how is this done?

I've shut off the water supply to the house and flipped the breaker for the hot water heater in the meantime.
 
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Old 12-17-02, 12:02 AM
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You need to replace the tee. Get all the water out then heat the pipe right where it enters the tee. then tap the tee with a pair of pliers when you see the solder melt until it comes off. Wipe the pipe with a dry rag to remove excess solder. then replace the tee
 
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Old 12-17-02, 07:39 AM
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I assume that "Wipe the pipe with a dry rag to remove excess solder" also implies "while the pipe is still hot."
 
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Old 12-17-02, 07:48 AM
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And, if you water is still present at pipes around the tee before you solder, use the old plumbing trick (that I read in a great plumbing book). Put a small amount of that crappy, white (Wonder-type) bread in the pipes. This will stop the flow of water enough to solder, but will pass fairly quickly. Maybe open a faucet or spigot that doesn't have a screen on it to flush the bread.
 
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Old 12-17-02, 08:24 AM
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Well, I fixed it.

There's nothing like turning off the water when you discover a leak late at night, then waking up to realize you can't take a shower, brush your teeth, or flush the toilet.

The leaking joint is one that I originally installed. After taking off and replacing this fitting, it seems that I may not have heated the joint enough originally to get deep penetration of the solder. Does that sound reasonable?

Also, why would this joint be leak-free for months, then decide to start dripping? Do I have to watch the other joints I made like a hawk now? And if a drip from a solder joint goes undetected, will it suddenly turn into a gusher?
 
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Old 12-17-02, 04:36 PM
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Well, yes keep an eye, but don't worry too much... usually if a joint doesn't leak right away, it is not a likely candidate to blow loose... However, in the future, you should keep in mind that preparing the joint for soldering is the MOST IMPORTANT part of soldering... You really should sand all surfaces to be soldered... the inside of fittings can be cleaned with a steel pipe brush if you can't work the sand paper in there well enough... then generously apply flux to both male and female parts to be soldered... make sure there is NO water in the pipe... even the smallest amount can cause a small steam pinhole that will leak... THEN solder the joint...
 
 

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