Soldering Copper Pipe: Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

soldering copper pipe

If you're getting ready to solder copper pipes, there are a number of things you can do to avoid making mistakes and leaving the pipes more vulnerable than before. If you begin soldering your copper pipe before you are adequately prepared, then you may end up having to pay more to get someone to finish the job for you, or completely ruin the pipe altogether, increasing the risk of house fires or overheating elements. In order to avoid making any mistakes, there are some things that you should be aware of before you begin.

Preparing the Pipe

Before you begin to solder, you will need to prepare the pipe. Begin by checking the measurements of the pipe, as this will be crucial to getting the right fitting. The pipe should fit all the way into the shoulder of the fitting, as this will provide a stronger and more secure bond than just placing the right edge.

When you come to cut the pipe to get the right size, make sure that you use a specific tubing cutter, rather than chopping it with a saw, in order to prevent flattening of the sides, and to make a perfectly level and square cut to the edge of the tube. Before you have finished preparing the tube, you should be careful to fully ream it, in order to prevent oxidation, as this may encourage rust and other problems. Use an emery board that will allow you to clean off the sides of the pipe. Once the copper is shining brightly, you are ready to begin soldering the copper pipe.

copper piping with a tape measure and fastening tool

Soldering the Copper Pipe

When you are ready to begin soldering the pipe, get the blow torch as hot as possible before you apply it to the pipe. The best way to proceed with the solder is to heat up the pipe as quickly as possible. Ensure that the pipe heats the fitting up uniformly, using the blue part of the flame. If you are concerned that your blow torch is not heating up enough to make the copper pipe instantly warmed, then you should replace it with a new version, or invite someone else in to do the job for you.

In order to heat the pipe uniformly, you should try and move the flame constantly, so that there is no flame operating on one point of the pipe all the time. The part of the blow torch which is hottest, the inner blue flame, should be in permanent contact with the copper. In order to make sure that you have heated up the pipe correctly, apply the flame until the copper begins to take on a very iridescent look. When you see this, apply the solder to the edge of the copper piping. If the pipe is hot enough, you will be able to see the solder pour over the edge of the fitting, and encircle it. Keep the blow torch on the solder until it completely surrounds the pipe, and then allow it to cool.