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Old 12-10-2012, 10:31 AM   #1
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Venting about Weekend Bathroom Rough In


I had a three day weekend to rough in the copper supply lines to basement laundry/bathroom as part of basement build out. 1950s house, all copper. Researched the hell out of pex and decided to sweat copper as i had done this on a previous buildout and new how. Plus, wanted to match up to existing.

Ran out of solder late Friday and ran to local Best store and got their generic solder. Did one or two joints and decided it was crap and went to HD in a snow storm to get the good stuff. Turn water on and have major pin hole leak in difficult location from crap solder. Up to 10 pm to get it fixed.

Then notice a tiny drip leak from a brass shut off fitting in another bad location. Tried to fix that with the plumbing putty seal. No go. i was trying to avoid taking apart. That was Saturday.

Then yesterday (Sunday) get done with the cold supply, flip the shut off and realize I forgot to cap the toilet stub out. Quick plug and flip again and have another major pin hole leak in bad place. Also notice very tiny drip leak in easier place. Through a towel over major leak and let drip into pail. I needed a break from it for an evening. Fix the leaks tonight and be done with it.

I will give major thought to the Wirsbo expander and pex for upstairs bathroom remodel.

Did i mention i had to shovel 10" of wet snow yesterday also. Old snowblower couldn't handle wet snow. Back to the desk job for a break.

B

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Old 12-10-2012, 10:48 AM   #2
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Venting about Weekend Bathroom Rough In


The key to sweating copper is cleanliness. It has to be bright copper cleaned with clean Emory fabric. The blue plumbers rolls work really well. Use the wire brushes inside fittings.

As soon as you get it cleaned apply tinning flux. I use a mixture of pure flux and tinning flux. Apply heat until tinning flux turns bright, and chase joint with wire solder. I always bend a loop on the end so I can chase all around. You should see a drip of solder hanging off the bottom of the joint, and you should see capillary action pulling the solder into the joint. I have found that you should use a moderate flame to solder copper. Too much heat is no good.

It sounds like you might want to consider shark bite fittings if you have more trouble.

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Old 12-10-2012, 11:00 AM   #3
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Venting about Weekend Bathroom Rough In


Check, check, and check.

I cleaned all fittings to what I thought was perfect. I had the 1/2-3/4 combo wire brush tool from HD for cleaning all ends and insides of fittings. I have the sweating flux. I went all the way around with the solder. I sweated dozens of joints perfectly fine.

Sharkbites are meant to be used for hard to sweat places, not for a whole project. I used two in locations where i didn't want an open flame.

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Old 12-10-2012, 11:13 AM   #4
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I feel your pain......

What kind of torch were you using? If it's the blue bottle...that is part of your problem....use MAP gas out of the yellow bottle.....the hotter, the better. You want to get the joint up to temp as quick as possible...heat it too slow and you boil off the flux and you won't get a good sweat.

Besides the brush, I also use a 3M scratch pad....I typically take off the 1st coat of crud with it and then use the brush.

Also...did you debur the inside of your pipes? This makes a bid difference on noise...
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:52 AM   #5
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I did not use MAP gas. I researched and it seemed the general consensus was that if you did everything correctly, propane would be just fine. If I sweat again, I may have to look into the MAP gas.

The wire brush tool did a good job of taking all the crud off and giving a nice clean pipe to sweat.

I did not debur. What are a few little burs going to do to make noise?

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Old 12-10-2012, 12:11 PM   #6
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I have been soldering copper plumbing with a simple bernzomatic propane torch since I was 18. I am now 66, and I have never had a leak. You may need a turbo torch for larger pipe but a small bernzomatic works fine up to 3/4 inch.

Maybe you used rosin core solder the first time around? It can leave pin holes. Is this the first time you have had trouble sweating copper?

It sounds like you did everything right. I agree re the shark-Bites, I used them to adapt my PB system to CPVC where I added a bathroom, but I would not use them as a general rule. I like copper, and sweated joints, but where I live the water is really acidic, and it eats copper and brass quickly.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:16 PM   #7
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Venting about Weekend Bathroom Rough In


Propane is ok- just takes a larger tip. I soldered 1.5" last week with it. I used a mini weed burner tip
My preferred fuel is acetylene. Here again, the tip makes the difference. For around the house- I'd use mapp.
Without watching you work, I'd blame your problems on heat, solder, flux, or perhaps moving the fitting before it cooled as you wiped it clean.
You didn't mention water in the lines. Steam can really mess up a joint too. The joint will look good but the steam will leave a pin hole
I did a test once with uncleaned pipe and fittings- straight from the shelf and they soldered fine, however I wonder about long term bonding of the solder.
I suggest you replace your flux too and keep at it.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:30 PM   #8
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Venting about Weekend Bathroom Rough In


Quote:
Originally Posted by Beepster View Post
I did not use MAP gas. I researched and it seemed the general consensus was that if you did everything correctly, propane would be just fine. If I sweat again, I may have to look into the MAP gas.

The wire brush tool did a good job of taking all the crud off and giving a nice clean pipe to sweat.

I did not debur. What are a few little burs going to do to make noise?

B
When you cut the pipe using a pipe cutter, it rolls the lip to the inside....when water flow....you hear it. And, according to some people, can cause leaks at the joint.

When I replaced the old gate valve for the water inlet to my house with a ball valve, the old valve piping was not debured. If ANY water was on, you could hear it in the kitchen....once I replaced that valve and debured the pipes....no noise at all....

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