Copper pipe connections: opinions, and or advice.

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Old 09-27-20, 07:44 AM
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Copper pipe connections: opinions, and or advice.

Any good for a first time? I am going to install a hot water heater, and decided to practice on the pipe for the relief valve.
Also, if I tap into the cold pipe that goes to my shower to feed the water heater, will that have any negative effect on my shower?


 
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Old 09-27-20, 07:54 AM
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It looks like the top pic has a cold solder joint. The solder stuck, but doesn't make a seal. This usually happens when the pipe isn't perfectly clean and well-fluxed. Also, if you overheat the pipe, the flux can burn off before it helps the solder flow into the joint.

Specifically, see the bottom of the elbow, see that there isn't much solder there?

The bottom pics look like they might be ok, but might have similar problems.

Are you sanding the pipes well before connecting them? What kind of flux are you using?
 
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Old 09-27-20, 07:58 AM
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Water supply to the tank should come from you main line with a 3/4 pipe. All other branches should typically be 1/2". What size is the supply to the shower? Think about this. If you just tap off the cold water shower supply line you will be trying to feed both the tank and shower at the same time and using the tank to supply hot water also. At the very least your flow will be very slow. and 1/2 is too small. Don't know about pressure drop. It might also starve the tank.

Your solder joints seem Ok from the pics. Usually a newbie will have a lot more overflow of solder. Possibly you might have cold solder joints. You don't try to cool the freshly solder joint with water or rag do you? Don't. Let it cool naturally then use a wet rag to cool it to the touch.

Have you applied water pressure as a test?
 
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Old 09-27-20, 08:38 AM
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I had a feeling I may have overheated. I didn't wet it at all to cool it. I used a brush to clean it, and the solder and flux is Oaty safe flow and h20 from Home Depot.. Maybe needs to be cleaned better? Also my torch may be junk. It's hard to light. And went out once when I tipped it.


There are no 3/4 pipes in my house aside from the heat pipes. I wonder if it's because my house was built in 1956? Even the pipe that supplies water to the boiler is 1/2.

 
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Old 09-27-20, 08:56 AM
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frank –

I took the advice of some people on this forum (including a plumber) to use a MAPP torch instead of a propane torch. I couldn’t believe the difference it made. It’s so much easier to get to the right temperature for the solder to flow.

If you are planning to do much more soldering I would think about it (unless you are already using MAPP).

Just my 2 cents.


 
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Old 09-27-20, 08:58 AM
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I think your solder joints are OK. It was just an observation that if they leak that might be the reason. To me they seem sealed. Did you see capillary action take place? If so you're fine. Only way to know is to try it out or re-do it. Since you're practicing attach a hose fitting and test it. Buy a hose adapter. Solder a cap on the other end.

You have a boiler. Then disregard my comments about pipe size. I no little about boilers and what you have may be fine. lets wait for the experts to chime in.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 09:01 AM
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Mapp gas is great but I never had a problem using propane. If that's what you have it's fine for 1/2 and 3/4 copper.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 09:05 AM
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If I look inside the threaded fitting I can see a ring of solder inside.
I am headed to the store soon to get a new torch and some mapp gas.
i will say that this is a skill that I've always wanted to have. Just never tried it before.
Also the solder looks bubbly in spots. What does that mean?

 

Last edited by frankjc; 09-27-20 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 09-27-20, 11:02 AM
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Pick up a roll of emery cloth for cleaning the pipes vs that wire thing!


Emery cloth, clean flux, clean acid brushes, solder and mapp gas (my selections) never fail!
 
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Old 09-27-20, 11:31 AM
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I began life as a union plumber's apprentice and I soldered a lot of joints 50+ years ago. Wasn't there something about applying the heat to one side of the joint and applying the solder to the opposite side? When you cut the pipe, sand or scrape the inside to remove burrs. Wire brush for the insides of female connections, sand tape for the outsides of male connections. We always wiped the solder off while it was still molten, to present a "neat" appearance, rather than the leave rough texture shown in these images.

Surprised to see this thread, since there've been huge advances in copper joining technology since I was a lad.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 01:42 PM
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I still say your joints are OK. Skip the MAPP gas. Propane works. Do a test like mentioned.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 02:09 PM
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We always wiped the solder off while it was still molten, to present a "neat" appearance, rather than the leave rough texture shown in these images.
Ferd, I'm not about to question 50 years plus experience and that of a plumber.
But just like electrical connections disturbing a solder joint before solidifying is a cold solder joint. And will lead to failure. I learned that in 1st year high school.

I also watched many plumbers solder a series of joints in less than 10 seconds ea. with absolutely little or no overflow and never wiping them. It's a bit of an art and skill. But as a beginner or occasional solderer, there is no harm in overflow. As long as the pipe don't leak, it's good.

Just say'n.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 02:56 PM
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I grabbed some mapp gas it sure heats up faster. Also got a new torch, my joints seem to be getting better as I go along.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 04:07 PM
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I am also a fan of MAPP and emery cloth. Get a clean connection and apply the solder on the side away from the flame. Don't overheat. When the solder flows move the torch.

Now I'm a fan of PEX and Shark Bites.
 
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Old 09-27-20, 05:12 PM
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The trick I learned was to put a little blob of solder on the joint at the top while you're heating it. It acts as a thermometer, as soon as it melts into the joint, back off the torch as you have the right temperature.

I've also learned from plumbers to wipe the joint with a damp cloth to clean it up while it's still hot. Keeps everything looking neat. It's also important to clean the extra flux off for a professional looking joint - though as far as I know, leaving the flux doesn't hurt anything adversely.
 
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Old 09-29-20, 11:00 AM
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Skip the MAPP gas. Propane works.
Agree! But, you need a good quality torch! Try one some thing like this one.
https://www.bernzomatic.com/Products...r-Start/WK2301

I have one very similar to this one except mine is about 35 years old. I don't use it that much, but I have used it to replumb 3 houses and to do numerous other smaller projects such as installing water heaters and a new master bathroom project.
 
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Old 09-29-20, 01:33 PM
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Joe, I whole hardly agree with you about MAPP gas. But if the OP already has the propane, I can't see why spending more is necessary. Especially if it's only occasional use. That's the only reason I don't have the MAPP gas unit.
 
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Old 09-29-20, 02:49 PM
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I was under the impression MAPP gas is no longer produced in the US. What is sold is MAPP PRO which burns at a slightly higher temp as propane, compared to true MAPP gas which is almost double flame temp. MAPP PRO is 3-4 times more expensive for me locally as propane.

When they did the switch I noticed a significant change in amount of heat the yellow bottle provided when soldering. You had to be very careful on 1/2" fittings prior to the switchover. Not sure its worth it to buy the yellow bottle vs the blue one. YMMV.
 
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Old 09-29-20, 05:23 PM
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Maybe a silly question but can I keep using the he same acid brush over and over, or is that bad?
 
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Old 09-30-20, 03:48 AM
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Should not be a problem. Just wipe it off occasionally when debris gets on it.
 
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