sweat/solder in frigid temps?

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Old 01-28-14, 06:18 PM
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sweat/solder in frigid temps?

I'm trying to remove some copper fittings in my unheaded garage, and can't get them off with the MAP torch. I've never had trouble before, but I've never tried to do sweat work in subfreezing conditions either. It seems I just can't get it hot enough, even with a new MAP canister. Tips? Fortunately I don't absolutely HAVE to get the fittings done until spring. They are on dormant boiler pipes
 
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Old 01-28-14, 09:17 PM
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I've never had a problem soldering in the extreme cold.
However, if there is water in the pipe(s)...... you could never get enough heat to break them loose.
 
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Old 01-28-14, 09:24 PM
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And possibly they were brazed, not soldered?
 
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Old 01-28-14, 09:39 PM
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How do I tell if it was brazed? They just look like regular old sweated fittings. They are bone dry. I was able to get one side of one off, but the rest wont budge. Probably just going to cut them off, but I have been doing this (recreationally, lol) for 15 years and never had trouble getting connections apart.
 
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Old 01-28-14, 09:42 PM
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Ok...if ya got one...then prob not brazed...that was just a thought....

Might need someone to twist and pull as you heat. But if cutting isn't gonna leave you short...thats what I'd do.

I know what you mean...I often just go out to the garage and solder and un-solder fittings just for fun...lol.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 12:29 AM
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That is what I have had to do , twist and bang on the pipe or fitting . Be sure & wear eye protection . Molten solder or hot scale / corrosion can go flying . :-(

I have one of the little turbo touches that can either use propane or MAPP gas . I have always used propane for soft solder and only used MAPP gas for HVAC brazing or Sil-Fos " silver solder " .

God bless
Wyr
 
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Old 01-29-14, 03:57 PM
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Are you sure the pipes are empty, this seriously sounds like you have water in the pipe....and it will be near impossible to unsweat the fitting if there is water there.

Are you positive its a new MAPP tank? Could not be getting hot enough IE..getting low.

Make sure to move the tip of the torch around the fitting(if the pipes are 3/4" or larger)

Lastly, plumbing pipes are usually only soldered, while refrigeration linesets are usually brazed. Brazing will look BLACK and usually "built up" around the joints, soldering will look silver(unless old, or there were leaks) and usually mainly on the pipe itself going under the fitting.

I hope this helps.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 04:43 PM
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Yeah, they're dry. I drained the boiler and blew out the lines. You had me going for a minute there about the MAPP. Did I go buy a new canister of MAPP and then hook up the old one that was almost empty? Sounds like something I would do...but not this time.

It has been subzero here for many days. The pipes are up against the outside wall of my unheated garage and the connections I'm working are close to where the pipes exit the garage and run outside through an insulated box on their way to the boiler. I think they are just so freaking cold I can't get them hot enough to melt the solder. There is an endless supply of cold in the pipes to replenish any lost at the torch. ;-) Thats my theory anyway. Really, I've done this a lot and NEVER had such trouble. BUt I've never done it on sub zero pipes.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 05:06 PM
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Everything I was going to say was mentioned. Water in lines... use Mapp gas... maybe you aren't holding the torch close enough. Removing fittings rarely goes well. You're better off cutting off the pipe short of the fitting then replace them as needed.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 06:44 PM
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Oh thats a whole different problem, but most likely your problem. The pipes are up against what I assume to be a concrete wall...? If so, the wall is what is keeping the pipe very cold and absorbing your flame's heat, which in turn is not allowing the solder to heat up to the liquid form.

Its the same thing when you hold a fitting in a vise, or big pliers to try to separate a soldered fitting....the vise absorbs the heat and the fitting wont get hot enough to separate.

Your best bet would be to try to jam something between the wall and the pipe it get it away from the wall, then try heating it up.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 08:02 PM
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Well its drywall not concrete, and they aren't touching the wall they're a few inches from it. My point was just that they are very very cold and the pipes lead outside where they are even colder. I'm just going to cut the fittings out and sweat them back in when I come back in 2 months. It should be at least around freezing or above, which is about 50 degrees warmer than it has been.
 
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Old 01-29-14, 08:08 PM
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I suppose I could also try preheating the pipe for a few feet on either side so it can't suck the heat away quite so quickly.
 
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