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mikeg12 09-22-2010 12:40 AM

Problem joining copper fittings after fluxing.
I am trying to do my own small plumbing project that requires soldering together various links of copper 3/4 in pipe. This is my first time soldering anything, but from what I've read and seen, i thought i could handle it.

Right out of the gate, i'm having a tough time figuring out what is going wrong with my pipe fittings (connecting a 90 degree elbow to a straight pipe). I have no problem when I dry fit connections, but when I clean, then flux the fittings, I can't seem to get the fittings back on properly.

Initially i thought i must have deformed the pipe when cutting it, but that wouldn't explain how easy it is to fit the connection dry. Is there a trick I'm missing?

Just Bill 09-22-2010 06:17 AM

Sand both the pipe and the inside of fittings(wire brushes work well also) with emory cloth, wipe clean, then flux and solder. The important thing is to remove manufacturing and human oils.

TheEplumber 09-22-2010 08:45 AM

199 Attachment(s)
Can you dry fit after making the cut? Sounds like a bad cutter. Some cutting wheels actually put a slight ridge at the cut, a real pita Try a differerent pair

secutanudu 09-22-2010 11:46 AM

Could ambient temperature and humidity have anything to do with it? I was working on a plumbing project a few months ago, with 1" copper. It was really hot and humid outside. I had the same problem. Pipes & fittings dry-fit no problem after cutting. I cleaned, fluxed, then the pipes would not fit together. I got so frustrated I just said...forget it. This was about 5PM.

The next morning, I tried again, it was cooler out and not as humid, and they went together no problem...

mikeg12 09-22-2010 11:51 AM

Yeah - i don't have the problem dry fitting after a cut - that is why i found it to be so strange. I clean with a wire brush (inside of the fitting), and one of those cap type cleaners where you insert the end of the length of pipe and twist for the length of pipe, flux and I can't get the damn thing to seat properly or can't twist the 90 degree elbow to the direction i want it.

thanks @eplumber and @secutandu - those are both good possibilities - it is very foggy and moist where i live. I just didn't know if there was some trick i was missing.

secutanudu 09-22-2010 11:54 AM

I have no idea if that even was my problem....all I know is it fit the next day!

mikeg12 09-23-2010 12:24 PM

Well - i'm still not sure what the problem was, but i went back yesterday with new tub of flux paste, and completed the project in 20 minutes without any problems. So it must have been the type of flux i was using, the fitting itself, (i threw out the one that was giving me the most trouble) or the ambient environment - who knows.

Thanks for your help.

My next question - I'm installing an expansion tank (Watts) and the male thread on the tank looks like its steel (certainly not copper), but the female connector to the main water line I bought is copper - i am assuming I can't put steel and copper together. Would they really make the male end non-compatible with the material of my water line?

secutanudu 09-23-2010 12:29 PM

I think stainless steel and copper can touch...right?

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