soldering a copper joint

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  #1  
Old 01-24-09, 11:52 AM
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soldering a copper joint

i would just like to say that i have watched many videos on how to solder pipe and there are only one or two out there that show how to do it properly.

i have seen them use steel wool to clean the pipe and fitting. not recommended to do if you want a good solder joint that will last.

i have seen them use their fingers to apply flux to the pipe and fitting. also not recommended for a good solder joint that will last.

i have seen them use a rag to wipe the excess solder from the pipe while it is still hot. that has been known to break the solder joint and cause a leak.

soldering copper is an art form and bad practices will have you repairing your repair in a short time.

i have had to make many repairs within ten years becuse they only got a bead to seal the joint and something moves or bumps it and a leak developes
 
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Old 01-27-09, 09:36 AM
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Hi plumbermandan-

Hope Iím allowed to post this link and you have time to take a look. The video shows the gentleman soldering a brass shutoff valve. I donít understand what he is doing with that brush at the end. Is that the flux brush? I thought I heard itís bad to apply flux to the outside like that? Something about causing reactive damage to the pipe later on? Or instead would that be water on his brush?

Iíve soldered many things and they havenít leaked yet. But mine never looks good like a professional plumber. Always seem to get some drips and lumps. Next time I was thinking of putting a very damp rag on my left shoulder and when Iím done, while still holding the torch in my left hand, drop the roll of solder from my right hand, and then use my right hand to grab the rag from my left shoulder an roll it around the joint quickly to clean off excess.

I suspect you probably think thatís nuts!

Also, guess I thought (probably wrongly) that you are supposed to run the solder wire all around the joint when itís hot and not miss any spots. I wind up with my wrist contorted likes itís going to break off. Very awkward thing I try to do (maybe thatís why my job doesnít look neat?) I noticed in that video that he seems to run the solder wire only about Ĺ way around Ė he makes it look easy and he doesnít look like a contortionist. Is that OK the way he does it?

YouTube - Easy Soldering Brass to Copper
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 01-27-09 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 01-27-09, 08:13 PM
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It appears that he is using the flux brush to smooth the solder afterwards.

I don't like solder-end valves and much prefer to use threaded end valves with soldered adapters. I solder the threaded adapters first and after they are cool I use Teflon tape and Teflon paste for lubrication and sealing. If I have to insert a valve in an existing line I will do one side first and then use an adapter on a stub pipe and then use a repair sleeve or soldered union for the other side.

This is how I solder piping and fittings. With this method I have "leakers" maybe at a rate of about 1/2% or less.

I use a Scotchbrite pad for cleaning the pipe and a wire brush sized for the fitting to clean the socket. I NEVER flux the inside of a socket. Doing so encourages the solder to run into the interior of the pipe or fitting as the solder will go wherever there is flux. Simply brush the flux onto the pipe end and then insert in the socket with a quarter-turn to distribute the flux on both the pipe end and in the socket. Heat and add solder, a length equal to about the outside diameter of the pipe. This is sufficient to fill the space between the pipe and socket wall without having excess solder drip off the outside of the fitting OR drip into the inside of the fitting and pipe. It is NOT necessary to run the solder all around the joint IF you have correctly cleaned and fluxed the joint. After the solder solidifies but while the joint is still hot wipe the outside with a wet cloth (natural fibers only) to remove any remaining flux.

If you use a cloth with synthetic fibers it will melt on the hot pipe. Yes, I learned this the hard way.
 
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Old 01-28-09, 11:41 AM
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Hi furd Ė

Thanks for your time . Very helpful information. First time I heard it explained with really good details. Think I will be able to do it as you suggest and I wonít have excess solder. Iíll make sure I use the right type cloth also Ė natural fibers only. I have the wire brushes and Scotchbrite. After reading your description I see now that the length of solder I was using was way too much. I swear I was using many inches on a 1/2 in. pipe while breaking my wrist trying to roll it around the entire circumference without moving off the joint. Probably a very funny sight!

I can see that doing it the way you describe should solve my problems.

When I was watching that video and saw the guy flux the inside of the socket- I wondered about that? I thought that I had heard that it was incorrect to do that. Thanks for explaining whatís wrong with it.

Why do you prefer threaded end valves with soldered adapters over soldered-end valves? Is that just a more reliable way to put in the valve? The reason I ask this is because Iím going to redo a section of my plumbing to add a retention tank and to add/replace a few shutoffs and to add gauges in that line. I was going to us brass nipples and threaded fittings wherever I could - just so I didnít have to solder. (Iím still in the planning stage. )Then I started thinking (probably wrongly) that soldered connections are more reliable in the long run and thus I had better bite the bullet and do it the right way and thus solder as much as I can (but with a few unions to be able to take things apart).

But it sounds like you certainly think threaded fittings are just fine. Is there any rule for determining when to use soldered vs. threaded? Is it just personal preference? I just donít have a handle yet on how to go from end to end choosing the right stuff.( I know those brass nipples can get really expensive especially when they get about a foot long Ė WOW).

Thanks again for your response!
 
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Old 01-28-09, 11:23 PM
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well furd doesnt follow proper methods either and will have gaps on the fitting where no flux transfered from the pipe since the fitting pushes out most of the excess, he would fail the soldering portion of the journeymans test in texas, but very few are trained to solder properly if i can find it there is a video on you tube that shows and explains text book soldering.

removing the heat and not running the solder all the way around are just 2 more of the things wrong in that video. you should follow the heat with the solder heating evenly all the way around the pipe. flux flows away from heat and solder flows to the heat. cooling a fitting to fast can break the solder joint and cause it to leak. just knock the little drip of with the solder.

check out this video.. they show and explain text book soldering YouTube - Learning to Solder Part 1
 
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Old 01-29-09, 12:03 AM
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Adding flux to the socket of the fitting is just asking for the pipe to push most of the flux into the fitting itself, past the point where the pipe and fitting meet. Adding the flux to the socket almost guarantees the solder will run into the fitting.


As for the videos...It took longer to watch those two videos than it would take to just do the job. Notice that he was soldering 2 inch copper. I seriously doubt that any DIYer is going to be soldering any 2 inch copper. Also notice that you never saw the demonstrator fluxing the inside of the fitting. I will state that if I were soldering 2 inch I would indeed spread a VERY thin layer of flux inside the fitting, being sure that it was a VERY thin layer at the butt end of the fitting. When soldering 1/2 and 3/4 inch copper it is unnecessary (in my experience) to flux the inside of the socket and doing so is asking for solder inside the fitting's water passage. A properly soldered fitting will show ONLY a thin ring of solder around the butt end of the pipe when viewed from the open end of the fitting.

Notice also in the video how much solder dripped off the fitting by using the technique shown of soldering from the bottom up. This is also because of demonstrating on a large diameter fitting and pipe. Quite honestly, if proper cleaning and fluxing procedures have been done AND the pipe and fitting properly heated, the solder will completely fill the joint from one point when soldering 1/2 or 3/4 inch pipe and fittings. Again, the demonstration, using 2 inch pipe and fitting is NOT representational of what a DIYer is going to be doing.

...he would fail the soldering portion of the journeymans test in texas...
That's okay, I hadn't planned on taking any journeyman plumber tests in Texas. Truth is, I have no desire to even visit Texas again.


Why do you prefer threaded end valves with soldered adapters over soldered-end valves?
Mostly personal preference. I suspect there are hundreds, if not thousands, of valves soldered in every day with very few failures but when there are problems it usually means the valve is destroyed and the fitter has to start all over from step one. I will state that if you are soldering in a valve that can be taken apart like a gate or globe valve you will likely not harm the valve. This is not always true when using a ball valve because you can't take it apart and then solder it in place. The rule is to always be sure the valve is open before soldering and some people like to wrap a wet rag around the middle of the valve to protect it from excessive heat. I suspect the plumbers that solder in valves every day are quite proficient and rarely do any harm to a valve but we DIYers that might do a valve once a decade are probably not that proficient.
 
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Old 01-29-09, 10:46 AM
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Thanks a lot guys for taking all the time you have taken here. I really appreciate it. I think I have learned a lot. Did watch the 2 videos and Mr. Jackson is pretty impressive . I know heís a Master Plumber and I bet he also spends all or a lot of time teaching somewhere because he is also seems like a very good teacher.

Did notice that he was doing a pretty big pipe. I wonít be doing one that big but I need to handle a one incher. Thatís what got me thinking about my soldering skills just recently and why I posted - because Iíve only done Ĺ inch pipes. So the jump up to 1 inch and ĺ inch (just a little bit for ĺ ) made me a little nervous. I think I do remember sweating on male adapters to thread into a valve so I didnít need to solder at the valve. Sounds like thatís Ok.

From the informative input on this thread I think Iíll be able to do my job fine.

Thanks again guys!

p.s.
Donít know if this appropriate to diverge and ask this here, or to start a new thread Ė but do you guys have any knowledge as to whether the valves you buy in a big box store like HD are of lesser quality than you would get in a good plumbing supply? In other words, would for example a ĺ inch full port shutoff valve you get in Home Depot be inferior to one you would buy in a good plumbing supply? Iím confused because some people tell me that the stuff you buy in HD and other big box stores Ė even though it has the same manufacturer name Ė is not the same quality as you would get from that same manufacturer elsewhere? Figured you guys might know. If not- thanks again!
 
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Old 01-30-09, 11:27 AM
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well to answer your question about purchasing a quality valve let me compare it with something you understand better. say you go into an appliance store, you are looking at washer and dryers, you see 2 ammana washer and dryer sets but one is $1500 and the other is $2000. what is the difference in the pricing? technology ! valves are the same way. a more expensive valve of the same brand will have better technology/quality than the lower priced one.

in the video i recommended he is soldering a 3" pipe but the method is the same no matter what size pipe you are working on.

furd, test you theory. take the fitting put it on the fluxed pipe and then pull it off. very seldom will the fitting be completely coated with flux. one spot and it is a weak point and will leak in less than 20 years. i have seen this time and time again. with out following the procedure in that video you are gauranteed a high percentage of leaks in teh future. i have pulled pipes apart by hand that were leaking because the "plumber" 20-30 years ago only got a small bead of solder to seal the fitting and it took that long for it to develope a leak and had another case where all but a thin line was covered with solder but 40 years later the water had destroyed the fitting and the end of the pipe it was attached to. you think the grand canyon was made over night? i have missed soldering a complete tee before , turned on the 80 psi water and it held for 2 weeks and was only discovered when someone was drilling a hole and vibrated the wall and my pipe! it held with no solder for 2 weeks !

if you dont believe me have a read at copper.org
 
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