Soldering a copper pipe can be done through two different methods, known as sweat fitting and brazing. Both of these have advantages and disadvantages, and if you are looking to join pieces of copper pipe together you may be unsure what is the best way of managing your piping. By examining the pros and cons of each method you can decide which one you would prefer to use in your project.
Sweat fitting involves placing short pieces of pipe over the ends of the copper pipes you want to join together. The fittings are then heated, known as sweating, until all of the parts are fitted together. This is a common method of joining ends of copper piping together, but as heat can quickly be moved away from the join through conduction, it often takes a lot of effort to warm the pieces enough to get a good solder join, while keeping it cool enough to prevent oxidization of the metal. It is this fine balance between heat and cold that makes sweat soldering such a difficult method.
Brazing involves placing a metal in between the two joints to be fixed. Brazing often requires extremely high temperatures, and this can be a problem with copper pipes, since oxidation can take place rapidly. Brazing makes the joints stronger if done well, but they require a great deal of cleaning beforehand, which can make the task very time-consuming.