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Old 04-01-2016, 11:33 AM   #1
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Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


I am teaching myself to solder copper pipe so I can build a pipe tree for an outdoor shower we are putting in. Watched some videos and am practicing but a few questions.

1. It makes sense to me that if I am putting together a "T" fitting I should solder all three connections at one time; and not do say one or two and come back later for the third. Is this correct?

2. In the picture below of the elbow, does it look like I have applied to much heat? Should the heat be built up quickly or slowly, does it matter?

3. Picture below of my torch tip. I have two tips; the one pictured and another that has a single pointed flame tip. Which would be the better to use?

thanks.
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Old 04-01-2016, 11:45 AM   #2
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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Originally Posted by Splais View Post
I am teaching myself to solder copper pipe so I can build a pipe tree for an outdoor shower we are putting in. Watched some videos and am practicing but a few questions.

1. It makes sense to me that if I am putting together a "T" fitting I should solder all three connections at one time; and not do say one or two and come back later for the third. Is this correct?

Yes. That's the way I would do it as well.

2. In the picture below of the elbow, does it look like I have applied to much heat? Should the heat be built up quickly or slowly, does it matter?

Yes, it looks like too much heat was applied. As soon as the solder starts to melt around the fitting and it sucks in, take the heat off it. Wipe down excess solder and flux with a rag for a nice looking job.

3. Picture below of my torch tip. I have two tips; the one pictured and another that has a single pointed flame tip. Which would be the better to use?

The one you have pictured is what I would use.

thanks.
It's nice that you are learning the skill of soldering. Good for you. Watch a few more videos and keep practicing. Looks good.

Last edited by jmon; 04-01-2016 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 04-01-2016, 11:49 AM   #3
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


PS: I forgot one question. Does it make any difference if you use regular or water soluable flux? thanks
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Old 04-01-2016, 11:59 AM   #4
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


not a expert, but I would use the tip that will concentrate and direct the heat. Heat the joint from the far side that you apply the solder and let the solder flow into the heat zone. I always preheat the entire fitting a little first then rapid up the heat right where I want the solder to flow into.
Regarding the tee, I would do each leg individually being careful not to overheat and break the seal on the leg you just completed. Wipe off excess solder with a dry cloth while still hot.

* practice just enough heat and guard against overheating

Last edited by Yodaman; 04-01-2016 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 04-01-2016, 12:03 PM   #5
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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Originally Posted by Splais View Post
PS: I forgot one question. Does it make any difference if you use regular or water soluable flux? thanks
Some of the plumbers will chime in on that one. There was a whole debate about that question a few years ago. Depends on what you are soldering and local codes.

From my understanding, the regular is better if there is a chance of condensation or water left in the pipe. The water soluble flux will dissolve with water so you may not get a good soldered joint. Imo, if the pipe is dry, water soluble flux is fine. I have used them both with no issues. Just my opinion.
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Old 04-01-2016, 01:07 PM   #6
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


Quote:
1. It makes sense to me that if I am putting together a "T" fitting I should solder all three connections at one time; and not do say one or two and come back later for the third. Is this correct?
I try to solder all branches at once, especially when you overheat like your picture shows... If you are careful with the heat by applying it to the cup and pipe, the branches should not melt though.
Quote:
2. In the picture below of the elbow, does it look like I have applied to much heat? Should the heat be built up quickly or slowly, does it matter?
Yes, too much heat. Also, heat the cup of the fitting more and the body of the fitting less. You might be too close with the flame as well. Stay a couple inches away- don't rush it by moving the heat too close.
Quote:
3. Picture below of my torch tip. I have two tips; the one pictured and another that has a single pointed flame tip. Which would be the better to use?
Your torch flame is fine for the pipe size you're working with.
I've always used Oatey 5 for flux. It's lead free
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Old 04-01-2016, 03:43 PM   #7
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


I assembled the complete basement of a house then soldered it all.

Also do not use acid core solder. (electronics version)

Also mapp gas is a better choice hotter.

Apply heat on the hub of the pipe apply solder at the top joint of the pipe Once she drips remove heat.

Last edited by Ghostmaker; 04-01-2016 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 04-01-2016, 05:33 PM   #8
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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I assembled the complete basement of a house then soldered it all.

Also do not use acid core solder. (electronics version)

Also mapp gas is a better choice hotter.

Apply heat on the hub of the pipe apply solder at the top joint of the pipe Once she drips remove heat.
Heat is applied to the bottom it rises....
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Old 04-01-2016, 10:43 PM   #9
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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Heat is applied to the bottom it rises....
I will just add that there are various types of solder for copper tubing. For example 50/50 is softer and requires less heat. 95/5 has less lead and takes more heat. Care must be taken when soldering in confined spaces like in a wall and maybe next to a wood stud. I generally will use sheet metal as a shield to prevent burning material around a joint. The temperature range for 95/5 is more confined and you can either not get it hot enough to melt the solder or you can over heat the joint and burn up the flux. Flame direction and movement is critical for making a proper joint getting the solder to flow and on larger pipe you need a larger torch tip and you need to be careful to not over heat as well. Perfect Practice makes a Perfect joint. And as was mentioned, I prefer to always wipe the joint clean with a wet cloth. Wet does a better job of cleaning the flux and diluting it as well to preserve the exterior of the copper. Brazing is a horse of a different color and requires a lot more heat as in Oxy/ Acetylene and different technique.

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Old 04-01-2016, 11:58 PM   #10
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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Originally Posted by srloren View Post
I will just add that there are various types of solder for copper tubing. For example 50/50 is softer and requires less heat. 95/5 has less lead and takes more heat. Care must be taken when soldering in confined spaces like in a wall and maybe next to a wood stud. I generally will use sheet metal as a shield to prevent burning material around a joint. The temperature range for 95/5 is more confined and you can either not get it hot enough to melt the solder or you can over heat the joint and burn up the flux. Flame direction and movement is critical for making a proper joint getting the solder to flow and on larger pipe you need a larger torch tip and you need to be careful to not over heat as well. Perfect Practice makes a Perfect joint. And as was mentioned, I prefer to always wipe the joint clean with a wet cloth. Wet does a better job of cleaning the flux and diluting it as well to preserve the exterior of the copper. Brazing is a horse of a different color and requires a lot more heat as in Oxy/ Acetylene and different technique.

.
You have to use lead free solder for copper pipes used for water.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:15 AM   #11
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


Except for the lead solder post, all the above is accurate info.

One important point not touched on.....you can't get it clean enough. The cleaner the connection, the better. I use 250 grit sandpaper...then a 3M scratch pad...

Fit....you don't want it too tight or too loose. If it's too tight, you end up with voids where the solder can't get in. Too loose, and you end up depending on the strength of the solder to hold it...and solder is not nearly as strong as the copper.

I always use MAP gas. The hotter the flame, the better.

Flux....the water based stuff is not as good as the acid based. Hence, one of the reasons you need to get the pieces so clean.

Another point not touched on...deburing. Debur the ends of your pipe, or you will end up with a lot of noise when the water flows. Here is a pic of a T I pulled off the incoming line to my house. Before I replaced it, you could hear water flowing even if it was a trickle. Now? Nothing.



When you are sweating the pipes, apply heat to the heaviest part with the occasional pass over the lighter part. You know it's right when you touch the solder to it and it sucks up into the joint. When this happens, give it more solder until you have coverage all around.

If you do it right, this is what the inside looks like



And this is one of my connections for the airlines in my garage.

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Old 04-03-2016, 09:19 AM   #12
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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You have to use lead free solder for copper pipes used for water.
You are correct DDawg, I neglected to state that lead cannot be used in soldering potable water. Thanks for the correction.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:34 AM   #13
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


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You are correct DDawg, I neglected to state that lead cannot be used in soldering potable water..Acidic, low alkalinity water causes lead to be leached from the joint until the system is used for a while, then the EPA has determined that it is not a serious problem. Thanks for the correction. Lead is a serious problem.
When I try to post this message I get a dialog box which says I need to add 5 more characters. I think something is wrong with the software.
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Old 04-03-2016, 12:22 PM   #14
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Re: Questions on Soldering Copper Tubing


thanks for all the info. My practice is progressing.
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