How to solder in tight space without burning down the house.


Old 01-03-14, 09:07 AM
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How to solder in tight space without burning down the house.

I am under the house in a crawl space about 2-3 feet tall and trying to do a plumbing repair to some copper lines. I'm lying here with my iphone typing this out right now. It's dark and scary.

I need to solder a couple of fittings to some existing pipes. The problem is that the pipes that I need to solder to are butting up to a wooden floor joist and also the underside of the house wooden support structure. I don't want to use pex or any type of compression fitting. Are there any tricks to do this without burning down the house?
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Old 01-03-14, 09:11 AM
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A protective pad can normally be slid in between the pipes and wood. Won't affect the solder joint since the solder wicks in. They sell them at most hardware and box stores.

That and wet the wood real well first, then wipe off the pipes. Keep a spray bottle handy. I've seen a bit of charred wood more than a few times.
Old 01-03-14, 09:14 AM
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In cases like this I get some ceramic tile and force it behind the solder joint (hopefully you have some "play" with the pipes). I will also surround the area with steel or some other non-flammable materiel.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you this but have some water available and wear protective clothing and eye ware.
Old 01-03-14, 09:26 AM
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ceramic tile and force it behind the solder joint
That is a great tip! Thanks!
Old 01-03-14, 10:46 AM
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The others have given good suggestions on keeping the wood from burning. The only additional advice I'll give is to be aware where your limbs are at all times. Dripping solder does not do nice things to an arm underneath it.
Old 01-03-14, 11:37 AM
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I carry a squirt bottle or toy squirt gun for safety. It can be handy if you happen to get any wood smoking, especially overhead as they both can squirt uphill.
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