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Old 08-29-2016, 11:51 AM   #1
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Soldering Question


Guys -

Have a slow drip (about 1 drop every 1 1/2 seconds) in an old Delta shower/tub mixing valve. The valve body is brass and the 3 tubes that connect to the valve body are copper (about 3/8" outer diameter). The seeping is occurring at the joint between the brass mixing valve body and one of the copper tubes. The seeping is occurring on the top left tubing joint (you can see the water glistening just barely.)

Question: Can you please confirm that you can in fact solder copper to brass? (I've never soldered before.)

Also, other than getting the joint clean and debris-free and to use lead-free plumbing flux, any tips to add?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:59 AM   #2
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Re: Soldering Question


You need to fully disassemble that before soldering.

The heat will ruin all the plastic internal parts.

I am confused as to which spot is leaking, and sometimes these are a factory assembled unit that cannot be fixed, replaced, yes.


ED
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:10 PM   #3
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Re: Soldering Question


de-nagorg -

Location of leak: see edited pix above.

Yes, the inner guts/plastic parts/springs/seats, etc of the assembly would be removed prior to soldering. Sorry I didn't mention that earlier.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:30 PM   #4
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Re: Soldering Question


I'd replace the valve. Cold line copper looks pretty corroded. You may possible solder, but chances are it would wait until the wall is repaired before it started to leak.
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:34 PM   #5
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Re: Soldering Question


More info: Bought a piece of identical copper tubing to practice on. As you can see in the pix, the tubing OD is 3/8" and the tubing has 1/16" thick walls. I'm guessing I'll need to put the majority of the heat on the mixing valve body and NOT the copper tubing since the copper tubing is rather small/narrow.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-29-2016, 12:37 PM   #6
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Re: Soldering Question


Quote:
Originally Posted by 47_47 View Post
I'd replace the valve. Cold line copper looks pretty corroded. You may possible solder, but chances are it would wait until the wall is repaired before it started to leak.
The first pix is before I cleaned it up. Put a Dremel tool with a small wire brush to it and both the valve mixing body and the tubing cleaned leaned up nicely.

Why would the solder joint fail later?
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Old 08-29-2016, 01:40 PM   #7
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Re: Soldering Question


I would change the valve and the surrounding copper but that's just me.From you post as far as buying a piece to practice on i'm guessing you don't have much experience ?
I never liked soldering copper to brass.There are a lot of better ways to connect them different metals.
You will have to take the valve apart and take the guts out so you don't ruin them.
To be honest you will probably use to much heat,take to long and get a bad joint anyhow.
Hope I'm wrong.What is your plan and what are you intending to solder it with?
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Old 08-29-2016, 02:36 PM   #8
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Re: Soldering Question


Plan:

- Turn off the water
- Take the parts out of the mixing valve (springs, seats, nylon bushing, etc)
- Dry off the joint (remove any water)
- Apply flux to joint
- Heat the mixing valve (ie, point flame primarily at the valve not the copper tubing)
- Check the heat of the joint by occasionally touching the joint with lead-free plumbing solder wire
- When hot enough apply the solder to the top of the joint and let the molten solder wick into the joint (most YouTube videos show the plumber just barely touching the joint and quickly removing the solder wire to prevent excess buildup)
- Let it cool and test it

I'm open to other ways of fixing this but it's got to be fast....my wife wants this fixed and I'm heading out of state tomorrow. Investigated "Just-For-Copper" and it won't work since it's anaerobic/I'd have to take the tube/mixing valve apart.
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Old 08-29-2016, 02:54 PM   #9
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Re: Soldering Question


Your plan sounds pretty soundI I looks form the pick that you lines from the mixing valve are copper?Kind of a strange setup.Not a plaumber but a remodeling contractor and in a lot of years doing this have never seen one quite like that.Looks like a leak waiting to happen to me.
If you don't have experience with lead free solder I will tell you now it's a bit different to work with.
I would use MAP gas and just get it done quick and get out.
Worst you can do is leave your wife without a shower while your out of state and get your a$$ kicked when you get home.
Take a couple small pieces of bread and stick in the supply lines after "you think you have the water off and they are dry".This will help with any access water trying to boil out when you heat it .Once you turn the water back on they will dissolve.You can't solder a wet joint.Especially with lead free.
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:15 PM   #10
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Re: Soldering Question


mako1 -

Well, first try didn't go so hot. Actually terrible. The solder wouldn't flow at all; just balled up and didn't adhere to the joint at all. I used flux but my brother thinks I may have used too much flux? I admit I put quite a lot on. Would that cause problems?

Letting the mixing valve cool down and will try again with less flux.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:26 PM   #11
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Re: Soldering Question


I know you cleaned it up but the whole thing just looks like a mess.It looks like there were just two holes drilled in the T with a cap and then the lines from the valve stuck into them.It's just not right.Looks like the T might have been galvanized from the pipe running under it to your spout.Are you sure your soldering copper to copper or copper to brass?
Get some lead solder 40/60 or similar.I guarantee you this lead in these 2 joints won't kill your family. Get some regular paste flux I prefer the red .Not for unleaded.And a flux brush .Brush the flux on,heat the joint good,when the solder starts to melt at the joint take your flux brush and run around the joint while melting your solder.
Not the way the pro do it but will help out and work for the amateur.
Your joint has to be dry.
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:27 PM   #12
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Re: Soldering Question


If I were inexperienced as you are, I would have either hired a plumber to repair it, or mixed up a batch of 2 part epoxy to patch the seam with.

Since this was a very slow leak, the epoxy should have repaired this until you remodeled.

That looks like a fitting made by the faucet manufacturer, especially for this. And any factory made item is prone to failure because the cheap labor hurries too much to keep production up.


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Old 08-29-2016, 04:39 PM   #13
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Re: Soldering Question


It's not clean enough,a wet joint or not enough heat.What are you using for a heat source?
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Old 08-29-2016, 04:44 PM   #14
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Re: Soldering Question


To clarify: the solder would melt but it wouldn't "run", or wick, into the joint. It just balled up into small blobs and then would not adhere to the joint.

Heating source: Bernzomatic model WPK2201 disposable torch from Lowe's.

Materials: Tubing is definitely copper. The mixing valve body loos like it has a brass coating but might actually be copper underneath? Does copper to copper soldering require a special kind of solder?

Earlier picture was BEFORE I cleaned it. This pix is AFTER I cleaned it.

This is a Delta mixing valve. House was built in 1971 and this is most likely the original mixing valve. (Can't say for sure since I bought the home in 2006.) See the 3rd tube? If you were looking at the mixing valve from the front you would see one tube at 11 o'clock, one tube at 1 o'clock and one tube at the bottom at 6 o'clock. It's the top left tube at 11 o'clock that has the seep.

Question: Other than keeping the idiots at the EPA happy, what's the advantage of using solder that contains lead? Does it flow better?

If I can't get the solder to flow I will try the JB Weld for water applications.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:13 PM   #15
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Re: Soldering Question


The Brass, the Copper, The solder all heat at different speeds.
The solder will melt first, copper second, brass later. Heat the brass only, at first, and touch the joint with the solder, after it is hot. it should flow right into the joint.

But JB Weld is faster.


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