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amodoko 08-10-2012 08:35 PM

Can you solder within an inch of a closed shut off valve?
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I cut out an old frost free sillcock and there is not much copper to work with so I have to solder on a coupling and more copper. But this is all going to be very close to the shut off valve pictured below. I have to have to shut off valve in the closed position though since the main water shut off inside my house allows a good amount of water to still run through the pipes and it will mess me up soldering. Can I really leave this shut off in a closed position (rather than the ideal position, of open) without messing up the valve? I'll be soldering quite a bit right by it and am worried about damaging the valve, possibly allowing water to rush in while I work, and also possibly heating the water up too much on the other side of the valve such that it bursts. I don't know jack, that's why I am asking all these questions. If there is a safer way to solder near a closed valve, please let me know, or if you recommend against it all together and only recommend soldering by an open valve then I'll have to find a better way to shut off water to my whole house.

The only other solution would be to turn off the water outside my house from underground, and I don't know how to do that. I found what I think are the extra shut offs, pictured below, but I don't want to mess with them without reading up on it.

I tried a gator bite (shark bite knock off) attached to the sillcock and then attached that to the copper and it leaked a bit so I scrapped that idea (maybe had to do with using teflon tape instead of thread sealant for the threaded sided of the gator bite but that worried me that the attachment would fail)

The first picture is the potential 2nd way to shut off water to the house, the second picture is the shut off valve where I will be soldering near.

TheEplumber 08-10-2012 08:46 PM

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Don't touch the valves in the first picture- those are for your irrigation.
You can solder next to the valve at your hose bib. I often solder at the valve itself with one side live. Just don't over do it with the heat and melt the seals on the bleeder port. Wrap a wet rag around it if it'll make feel better. Also keep a spray bottle nearby. I know you're worried about close quarter soldering.

deb0815 08-10-2012 09:00 PM

You could also put a pipe wrench on the valve and it will act as a heat sink.

Alan 08-10-2012 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by deb0815 (Post 985859)
You could also put a pipe wrench on the valve and it will act as a heat sink.

It would probably work best if you had an aluminum one, but I have never tried that one before.

jaydevries 08-10-2012 09:51 PM

the first pic looks to me like irrigation valves and as long as there is water on one side off the valve you can solder the other side with out damaging it

biggles 08-11-2012 05:54 AM

put a wrench in a small bucket with ice and water(or in the freezr overnight :eek: then lock it onto the pipe just at the items common pipe you want to protect.when you solder the heat will not go past the wrench heat travels to the colder temp.i see the irrigation station and the in house shut off... what and where are you soldering:huh:..are you changing the valve inside?with that wrench heat sink trick no rags are required but with soft solder you have to be clean and use flux and sandpaper..even grab the lenght of solder with the sand paper to clean it and dip it into the solder and watch that heat...if the cut was made outside and the 2nd pix is the removed sillcock you have plenty of room to solder without hurting that valve...are you torching inside or outside?

amodoko 08-11-2012 02:31 PM

Thanks guys, great advice, I think I'm finally ready to try and solder it all. Those were some great ideas about the wet rag and wrenches to dissipate heat, wish I had thought of that. To answer your question biggles, I'm just soldering a new frost proof sillcock to copper pipe. I am soldering inside my basement in the ceiling near the outside wall that the sillcock will exit. I am not changing the valve that is pictured, but just will be soldering near it to add a coupler and more copper pipe. And I am torching inside.

Alan 08-11-2012 02:35 PM

Just to add, i've soldered one end of ball valves onto lines in cases of emergency, shut the ball valve off, so that i could turn the water back on to the rest of the building, and then continued soldering the other end of the valve as needed. I've done this quite often, actually.....

You shouldn't have an issue, unless you heat the valve up to 2000* (at that point you'll have more problems than just the solder on the other end of the valve liquefying. A wet rag should be more than plenty if you're worried.

biggles 08-11-2012 03:05 PM

isee it now DAH......:huh: to me that sand papered copper right side of the interior shut off a wrapped wet rag or the wrench trick on the copper just in front of the shut off will keep it well cool....with it being that tight soldering the coupling and new sillock pipe set the torch in one place 1" off the coupling and move the solder rod around the fittings.placing the solder tip at the 12 oclock position on the points to solder it will run right into the coupling hitting each joint back the torch off and work the solder with the remaining heat on the joints...just throwing out suggestions.moving the solder and torch in a tight spot can get hairy:wink: hitting the middle of that coupling the solder will flow into each side where the pipes are....definitly flux fingers on the sanded parts

amodoko 08-11-2012 03:46 PM

thanks biggles, I appreciate the advice, now I just need to go to the store to get a few more supplies, and I should be ready to go. Ha, this should be interesting:)

amodoko 08-15-2012 01:33 AM

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Hey guys, thought I would post about my time trying to solder the frost free faucet in place. Let me tell you, the space I worked in was very cramped for me and made things really difficult. This was my first time soldering so the lack of space was definitely a worry of mine.

As you can tell from the pics, I did a very messy soldering job on the coupling, but a decent one on the sillcock attaching to the 1/2 inch copper. I am actually surprised nothing leaked right away since my soldering job was so messy and it seemed like I had missed a few areas around the joint due to not having a good view of all sides of the coupling.

I used 1/2 inch type M copper pipe with a coupler with a stop in it. I also used silver bearing lead free solder and water soluble lead free flux that came with a benzomatic propane torch kit.

Before I started soldering on the final products, I did practice soldering a joint twice. Came out decent for my first try, a bit messy though. Then I went on to the real deal...

I soldered the sillcock to the new copper piping (after prepping/cleaning/sanding/fluxing) outside my house and thus it was easier to do than the coupling. It came out okay, not great, but decent. It took a long time to heat up the joint up since the sillcock was brass I guess but it worked eventually, I just hope I didn't burn all the flux away by heating too long.

I then inserted the sillcock into the opening in the side of the house with the new soldered copper on it and used 100 percent silicone around the egdes of the sillcock to create a weather resistant seal between the house and the sillcock. I also drilled holes into the mortar and brick and inserted anchors and screws to hold the sillcock in place.

Then I went inside and soldered the coupling to the sillcock and to the indoor copper plumbing near a valve. I removed the entire handle and insides of the sillcock to prevent melting of the washer inside. I soldered near the valve inside my house without a wet rag on the valve since it seemed to take too long to heat the joint and I worried the flux would burn away. At this point I worried more about the flux burning away than protecting the indoor shut off valve. The soldering of the coupling was extremely difficult for me since the space was so cramped (from a beginner's viewpoint). It was difficult in comparison to soldering in a more open space. It took a long time to heat the joint (may have been that I used a small flame since I didn't want to burn the house and at first I had a wet rag on a nearby valve to prevent melting of the rubber in the valve) and at first the solder would just clump off and come off but finally it started to flow. I stopped after thinking it was enough solder, then quickly realized that the side of the coupling I couldn't see did not get enough solder. Even though you need to redo the entire joint, I decided to quickly just reheat it and get the areas I missed (even though the joint had been cooling for about 90 seconds). I got most of the areas I missed on the second try. At this point I thought the joint would fail and I would have leaks due to it being heated twice, the fact that I felt I burned away too much flux and overheated the joint in some way, and that it looked like I missed some spots. I waited about 4 minutes for things too cool naturally and turned the water on for a few seconds... then off... no leaks. Then I reinstalled the innards to the sillcock (I removed them to protect the washer) and then turned the water on again and left it on. No leaks.

So it seems I was able to create a functional solder joint, but it was not done cosmetically well and mechanically well, but I guess it was good enough to work.

The only functional problem I have is that the new sillcock leaks a bit from the spout! Which was my ORIGINAL problem! The outside part, LOL. It drips about once every 10 seconds. Either I have a faulty washer/sillcock, or maybe when soldering... some of the solder dripped in too far and obstructed the seal between where the washer would sit and the inside of the sillcock? I don't know.

Either way, I'm happy to have created functional joints that don't leak, but a little bit annoyed that the new sillcock leaks a bit from its spout. I was thinking about putting some silicone grease on the washer to help create a better seal inside the sillcock to prevent leakage, but don't know if that is okay with potable water.

Does anyone know why the new sillcock may be leaking?
I am leaning towards just a faulty washer or the fact that some solder dripped in too far and is making a slight obstruction. Either way, at this point, I am not starting all over and installing a new sillcock, that is out of the question, hahaha.

But I basically just wanted to make this post to show you guys the final result. Thanks to everyone that helped me, I am glad I did this but I realize a need a lot more practice. But at least now I know the basic mechanics of how to solder, I just need to practice more. I had a great time learning, thanks again.

Feel free to make any comments, negative or positive, I welcome any criticism or concerns about the job I did. Thanks again:)

P.S. Some of the black stuff you see on the coupling is a burnt price tag on the coupling. And some of the clear clumps you see on the sillcock threads and pipe are some silicone that attached to it when inserting it inside the hole in the house.

biggles 08-15-2012 06:38 AM

nice joint into the sillcock beats being up on a ladder hanging side ways with pipes around the torch.that coupling is good and into the valve is solid.the flux "pickles" the copper being soldered has nothing to do with controlling the time you BLOB the solder like on that coupling just pull the torch back so the heat temp drops and that BLOB would of rolled around the coupling.if the torch was hitting the middle of that coupling about 1'-2" away the coupling and copper lines would of heated up equally and just wipe the solder around the joint and it will suck right in..did you see how longer the copper takes to melt when going into that brass and silver connections.always apply the torch to the heavier metal the copper will follow up.on that leak on the spigot shut the water off...remove the nut outside something is on the seat this guy is doing 3/4 copper to copper the smaller the pipes the less heat as you had,and working off a vise is easy flat footed...being up on a ladder or soldering above your face looking up takes practice....just prep as mentioned ..very important...

TheEplumber 08-15-2012 11:50 AM

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For your first try, in a confined space- good job :thumbsup: no charred plywood!
I think your torch is a little under sized, but it works

hammerlane 08-15-2012 12:12 PM

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Ask yourself this. Would you rather have a good looking sweated joint that leaks or the way that coupling looks with no leaks.

I'd take the way the coupling looks with no leaks. You're not creating a Picasso.

Now for your next project: get some insulation in those rim joist cavities.

eclark 08-15-2012 07:11 PM

Nice work all things considered. next time working on pipe that's not buried underground and which isn't part of the heating system, just try to remember to use type L. the wall is a little bit thicker and I've always been told that's what's required for use on domestic water

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