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How hard is it to solder copper pipes?

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I have looked at some youtube vids and it seems to be easy enough but I have never done it before. I need to solder maybe 4 joins in copper pipes under my sink. I am pretty handy for the most part, but I would hate to make joins that leak. Does the solder really flow all around the pipe by itself like they describe? Or is my attempting to solder copper pipes a disaster waiting to happen....
 

catilyst

TRIBE Member
Easy peasy. Key is to heat the pipe a lot before adding the solder.

Copper pipes and elbows are relatively cheap - best thing to do is buy a bunch, go outside and do dome practice pieces until you get the hang of it.
 

oddmyth

TRIBE Member
The hardest part is trying.

TIP: metal transmits heat very well so you may want to use a metal clamp or some very heat resistant gloves if you are attempting to hold the pipe as you heat it up.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
The hardest part is trying.

TIP: metal transmits heat very well so you may want to use a metal clamp or some very heat resistant gloves if you are attempting to hold the pipe as you heat it up.
Good tip that on not holding the pipe with your bare hands. I woulda.
 
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Re: Shoe

TRIBE Member
A good solder job is all in the prep. Clean the copper pipes and fittings meticulously - they should be super shiny and smooth. Hit the torch on the fitting where the pipe is on the inside (i.e., thickest part) and tap the solder on the back end (where it would be coldest) - that way you can be sure the rest is hot enough to keep the solder melted when it flows into the joint.

Don't burn down your house. If the spot you're working is tight (e.g., in a cabinet), buy one of those flame shield cloths from the hardware store. They work 100%. And keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby.

catilyst is right - buy a couple spare fittings and scrap pipe and practice a bit outside - you'll see how easy it is.

Hardest thing is if there is still a little water in the pipe when you actually go do the job. It won't heat well, and if it's steaming then you can get little air bubbles in the joint that will make it leak when you turn the pressure on. Get the pipe dry and make sure you have the faucet downstream open to allow hot air to escape.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
  • Don't catch cabinets or hands on fire.
  • Clean pipes meticulously where they are to be joined.

Check.
 

OwenThomas

TRIBE Promoter
This may sound dumb but the insides of the pipes can not have any water/moisture or you'll never get the solder to seal properly. I was soldering a joint on the lowest portion of a run after changing some stuff and couldn't get the last joint to seal properly. Little bits of water kept dripping down the line.

I gave up and used one of those shark bite push fittings.
SharkBite Fittings | Sharkbite Plumbing | Instant Push Fittings for CPVC, Copper and PEX Tubing SharkBitePlumbing.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RiqhtvgrH8

Sometimes you can stuff brown bread in there and will stop the drips long enough to solder it. Once the water is on, it just blasts it to bits and comes out of your tap.

EDIT: ....what Shoe said.
 
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I_bRAD

TRIBE Member
Good tip that on not holding the pipe with your bare hands. I woulda.
Don't forget its still gonna be hot when its done too! Easy to get distracted then grab a handful of hot pipe. Especially the brass fittings. they hold the heat for a while (and take that much longer to heat up fwiw)
 
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