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pattyobrien3 09-26-2012 04:21 PM

DIY copper soldering?
I have some exposed 3/4" copper water lines in my basement, and I'm considering finishing the basement with a bathroom.

I'm hoping to install fixtures on my own, but I don't know how to hook up the water lines to them. I called a plumber, and he quoted me ~$700 to hook up the exposed copper lines to fixtures I would install - something like $200 for materials and $500 for labor.

I've been reading and watching videos about soldering copper pipe, and it does not seem like rocket surgery to me, but I have a couple of questions.

1: My pipes are currently installed and affixed to the wall - the youtube videos I watched had someone using a pipe cutter that goes in a circle around the pipe, but that will not be possible with the pipe as it is now.

Is there a good way to cut the pipe in the wall? Circular saw, I suppose, just have to be careful to not go too far.

2: Is attempting soldering plumbing connections advisable for someone without experience? It does not seem overly complicated, and I can always test the lines to see if they leak before covering them up.

Thanks for your thoughts.

AllanJ 09-26-2012 04:41 PM

One thing you need to be super careful about if you do soldering of pipes in the wall.

If you get the torch flame on the (wood) studs or joists etc. you could start a fire.

Experienced plumbers have tricks (and various accessories such as pieces of sheet metal) to prevent such fires.

You ccan probably find some kind of saw or you could improvise something 9like a hacksaw blade) to cut the pipe in the limited space.

allthumbsdiy 09-26-2012 05:41 PM

1. you can usually find straps, clamps or hangers and loosen the screws to get some movement

2. if you cannot use a mini pipe cutter, you can always use a hack saw to cut the pipe (just make sure to cut as straight as possible). I would *not* use a circular saw.

3. you need to get some space between the pipe and studs to insert some type of heat shield (sheetmetal as allan said, or oatey flame protector at min - if you have a shallow baking pan, that works well because you can add some wet cloth to the wood side, cover it with the pan for protection.

regardless of how you do it, you need to have a fire extinguisher handy (and know how to use it in advance).

4. if the movement is fixed so that after cutting, you cannot spread the pipe left-to-right, you will need to use a sweat or repair slip coupling (

i don't think sweating a pipe is that difficult; it just takes a lot of practice (and patience).

if the work area will remain exposed, you may want to consider push fittings like SharkBite, though I would recommend sweating the pipe.

Post some pictures of the area and I am sure pros here can help you out.


biggles 09-26-2012 06:06 PM

hacksaw will do it then sanpaper the cuts round just go slow and it will go right thru it.electric saw will be over kill.put the HWH to pilot/or kill electric to it you have to drain and vent both hot/cold lines above the work...then when you solder need to be clean flux'd and easy does it with the flame.the pipes will move somewhat off the wall and soldering is easy just keep searching the youtubes..add a tee on both with a ball valve for H/C and 6" of copper out of each valve.reason :huh: do the cut in, solder up, shut the new valves and put the water back up on the house along with the HWH....once the isolating valves are in you can do the basement at your leisure...:thumbsup: see in this one he pulls the heat away and the solder can still melt... closer the flame the hotter the copper gets doesn't take much to melt...just be clean flame won't be that powerful with mep gas

TheEplumber 09-26-2012 06:19 PM

199 Attachment(s)
A couple pointers-
You can not have any water in your pipes when soldering. It will turn to steam and try to escape out the fitting- no good
Watch your flame. Kraft paper on insulation, spider webs, saw dust, wood slivers, etc. are all highly flammable- that's experience talking:laughing:
This image is a very handy pipe cutter. Available in 1/2 and 3/4" Needs about 1" of clearance to operate.

SeniorSitizen 09-26-2012 07:22 PM

Since these pipes have water in them, I'm with
allthumbsdiy's Sharkbite suggestion for this job and learn to solder on a different project.

The Hammer 09-26-2012 08:01 PM

All of the above is good advice. The only thing I can add is Clean, Clean, Clean. the cleaner the connections are before you solder the better the job.
An old trick I use if you have a pipe with a slow drip that would cause you grief pack the pipe with some fresh bread. Just enough to stop the leak long enough to get it soldered. When you turn on the water the bread will break up and flow out.

allthumbsdiy 09-26-2012 09:17 PM

I would either buy some plumbing gel capsules (forget what they are called) or use what hammer said (just make sure to use moist whitebread, not multi grain stuff) :)

Or you can braze the pipe to steam out any water inside first.

Copper is expensive but I think it is worthwhile to get some to practice first.

Good luck

Total Tool 09-26-2012 09:53 PM

I'd use shark bites. At least for the joints that are tough to access.

sublime2 09-26-2012 10:06 PM

Use the sharkbites!!!
You'll be glad you did!
Makes the job easy AND they can be used behind walls.
They do not need to exposed.

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