Installing Copper Tubing

Homes built post 1950 will probably have copper tubing to deliver the water supply. Pre-1950 and the pipe work would have been made from iron. The use of iron meant it was difficult to install due to its weight and special equipment needed. Also iron needed to be replaced periodically due to rust and corrosion.

With the introduction of copper, circa 1950, people soon recognized that as it was lightweight and easy to install and the skill of an ordinary DIY person was all that was required. Copper rarely needs replacing.

Tools and Equipments Required for the Installation Process

  • Copper Pipe (hard or soft)
  • Pipe Cutter (this is better than cutting with a hacksaw)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Drill with spade bits
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • A Flaring Tool
  • Fasteners (each one held on by a flared-end)
  • Soft Copper Tubing
  • Gas (propane) Torch
  • Steel Wool or Emery Paper
  • Solder and the flux to go with it
  • Fittings e.g. T, 90 degree, 45 degree
  • Hard Pipe in 10 or 20-foot lengths
  • Empty plastic detergent bottle filled with water
  • Eye Goggles
  • Heat Resistant Gloves

Step 1 – Installing Hard Copper Pipe

Hard copper pipe is comparatively easy to install. If it needs to be behind a wall, use a drill bit called a "spade" and drill a hole slightly wider than the diameter of the pipe. Insert the pipe into the wall and negotiate the wall studs. One of the benefits of hard copper pipe is that even long sections won’t need to be supported as its inherent strength supports it.

Step 2 – Configuring Copper Pipe

As hard copper tubing doesn’t bend, use a selection of fittings to configure in different ways, e.g. joints of 90 degree, 45 degree and "T" type couplers. Cut or extend your standard 10- or 20-foot pipe lengths with standard straight fittings or any of the three types just mentioned.

Step 3 - Joining Hard Copper Pipe

To join the pipes you need to "sweat solder" the joints together. This is done using the solder and flux heated with a gas torch. Always wear goggles, gloves and have your water bottle ready. The finished joint will be as durable as if the whole thing was made of a single piece of copper. Use the pipe cutter to cut to the length required. For tight spaces it’s possible to buy compact pipe cutters; they’re not as powerful, but handy if the space is a bit tight.

Step 4 – Installing Soft Copper Pipe

Soft copper pipe comes in rolls and is simple to install. If the needed length is less than 20 feet, your local hardware store will probably be the best place to visit. Use the soft variety, when the installation space is tight. If you’re not putting pipe behind a wall, the soft pipe optioned can be used, as you’ll be able to get the push-on or similar joints easily. So use this option for installing copper tubing in those tight spaces.

With that the you will be done with installation process of copper tubing.