How to properly solder copper tubing, is a job most home owners will eventually want to know how to do. Maybe we're adding an outside faucet, or repairing a split pipe, Copper tubing is used in most homes, and eventually needs attention. This article will take anyone step by step, through the process of creating a solid leak proof soldered joint.
Things You Will Need
The tools needed for this job are minimal. Plumbers emery paper, to clean the pipe. A wire fitting brush to clean the inside of the fitting. Flux, or soldering paste as it's commonly called. And a propane, acetylene, or map gas torch. Any of the three will do. A wiping rag made from cotton, is also required to clean up the joint after soldering. Safety goggles are recommended as well as thick gloves.
Clean the end of the pipe to be soldered. This should be done with plumbers emery cloth and the area cleaned should come from the end of the pipe to a quarter inch passed what will be in the fitting. This allows us to tell when the pipe is all the way inserted. A quarter inch of cleaned pipe left out and it's positive that the pipe is seated properly.
Clean the fitting with a plumbers wire cleaning brush of the proper diameter.Turn these brushes only clockwise as the bristles will fall out if rotated the wrong way. Make sure the inside of the fitting is cleaned well. Check inside to make sure the job is perfect.
Using a paste brush, apply soldering paste (flux) to both the inside of the fitting and the pipe. Paint both of these for full coverage. Now insert the pipe and check for the quarter inch of cleaned area to be showing, to be sure its seated. Be sure not to touch the cleaned area of either pipe or fitting, as this will leave contaminates from the fingers and cause a leak. Wipe with the cotton rag to remove excess flux. This will keep excess solder from running down the pipe and making a mess of the job.
Heat the assembled joint with a torch and touch solder as heated. When solder begins to melt run around entire perimeter of fitting. The solder will absorb into the fitting, following the hot flux. It can help to heat one side of the pipe and run the solder on the other side, this will assure the pipe is hot enough all the way around. When solder spills over the edge of the fitting, rather then going in, The joint is complete. Put the solder down and pick up the wiping rag and wipe excess solder from the job. This may require reheating if the solder has hardened. Make the joint nice and smooth and push solder into the joint as it's wiped. This extra effort not only makes for a good looking job, it also seals the joint much better then if left without wiping. Extinguish the torch and your through.
It cannot be stressed enough how important the cleaning portion of this job is. Leaks will be caused primarily by improperly cleaned pipe or fittings. The copper should be shiny and better then new, clean. Fittings should be cleaned twice to be sure. When copper is soldered, the flux helps to rid the joint of any contaminants that remain after cleaning. Lets just say the cleaner the pipe and fittings the better chance of no leaks and a great looking result.
Tips & Warnings
As with any job there are dangers that should be thought of before attempting them. Torches should be used by qualified operators. Make sure the directions have been read, including any safety warnings. Soldering copper requires temperatures to high to touch. Gloves should be worn and goggles are recommended to protect from that stray drop of solder. A bucket of water, or fire extinguisher should be on hand for this job.
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