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How to Not Solder Copper Pipe

We’ve walked through how to solder properly (sweating pipe) in another recent article. Now, as a precaution (and for your pure entertainment) we’d like to share with you how to not solder copper pipes.

1. Just Wing It

Don’t waste time trying to learn the proper techniques, tools and recommendations for soldering copper fittings. Just kind of think about it for a second and say to yourself, “Well, it’s worth a shot” and go for it.

2. Ignore all safety precautions

I mean honestly, is getting burned with a thousand degree flame that big of a deal? Don’t bother with a glove, a mask, anything your common sense might try to bore you with. Pro-Tip, soldering basics: Make sure you have fantastic insurance coverage.

3. Pretend You Are Darth Vader and the Torch is a Lightsaber

This will be hilarious and completely unsafe. Wait until the torch is properly heated up, turn off all the lights, then start swinging that bad boy all around. Don’t worry about anything that might be in your way, the likelihood it will be incinerated is very high.

4. Try to Pass Off the Drips of Copper as Pennies at Your Local Grocery Store

The result of soldering copper pipes is that scalding hot drips of copper will be left behind. True sweating pipes! You can take those and try to buy a Snickers or two at your local grocery store. Will the cashier notice? Who knows. If they do, blame it on the economy and pretend you didn’t know any better.

5. At the End of Your Project Opt for Duct Tape Instead = soldering basics (lol)

So you probably couldn’t pull it together using the instructions in this guide, so let’s go at completing the project from a different angle: use leftover bits of copper and instead of properly soldering them, use a bunch of duct tape instead. Tape all the copper joints and the copper valves and the whatever together. Then, make sure you’re ready to watch the proverbial sparks fly; because this is not going to end well.

Sweating Copper Pipe Guide- Soldering Copper Pipe

pipe Intro:
Sweating copper pipes is a basic, but important, plumbing skill. It can be as much art as science, thus the more you get the “hang of it”, the quicker it gets.

Soldering copper pipe, or “sweating” as the tradesmen say, uses capillary action to create a tight solder joint. By using a propane torch to heat the two pieces you are connecting, silver solder is “sucked” into the connection and spreads evenly within the copper pipe and copper fitting and covers the mating surfaces completely with molten solder. Once the assembly cools, you should have a solid, leak-free connection that will survive the test of time.

Use care when working with propane torches. Keep the heat away from wood  or other combustible materials. Please let your work cool before touching it.

TIP – Outside sweating of copper pipes will keep the stink outside the house and keep the wife happy … don’t create an unpleasant hobby for the family, don’t  you agree ?

Step 1:
Plan ahead. Gather all the items you will need to complete the project. Be sure you have adequate copper tubing and fittings to complete all your angles & runs. You do not want to run to the store in the middle of soldering.

 

Step 2:

Once ready, cut all your copper pipe and pieces in to the right lengths. (Don’t forget to add the length of copper pipe that will insert into every copper fitting.) A copper tubing cutter will give you the best cut, however you can use a saw and a chop box if you are desperate. However you cut the copper pipe, be sure to not bend the copper pipe or create cuts in the copper faces that will be soldered. The imperfections can cause leaks. Really, the tubing cutter will give you superior results and finish….and is faster.

pipe2

Figure 2 Cutting Copper Pipe

 

A tubing cutter rotates around the pipe as you cut. Move the blade of the tubing cutter to your length mark. Lightly tighten the clamp. Spin the cutter around the pipe several times to lightly score the pipe, then, tighten the clamp a quarter turn after each full rotation. Repeat, and keep rotating and clamping until the pipe is cut, go slowly and take your time….. After a while you will learn to slowly tighten the tubing cutter as you rotate it around the pipe and then the cutting will go pretty fast. It takes 8-10 rotations to cut most pipe.

Tip- tightening the tubing cutter too fast can cause the pipe to bend into an oval shape which will prevent a successful sweating of the joint.

Step 3:
Operate the reaming tool of the pipe cutter,  use in order to remove the burr from the inside of the copper pipe.

pipe3

Figure 3 Reaming Copper Pipe

Step 4:
Now, prepare the copper pipe and copper fitting to be soldered. Use emery(way better!) cloth or sandpaper and polish the ends of the copper pipe pieces where they will be joined. I prefer the open mesh emery cloth, it lasts much longer and polishes better….continue to polish the copper until the all the metal is shiny. This removes any impurities, dirt, and oxidation that may oppose a leak-free joint. Also, sand the end of the pipe. Do not touch the cleaned copper with bare hands or dirty gloves. Skin oils, dirt, and impurities will impair the soldering operation.
Tip – most water leaks, are from compromised copper, not being properly cleaned, sanded, and prepped.

Tip – Do not use copper polish to clean the copper, it will pollute the metal and prevent you from soldering.

pipe4

Figure 4 Polishing Copper Pipe

Step 5:
Rotate a wire brush inside the fitting, several complete rotations, in order to polish the insides of the copper  fittings.

Tip – you can cut the handle off the brush, insert the remaining wire into a drill, and quickly sand the inside of the fitting, its easy and fun!

pipe5

Figure 5 Polishing Copper Fittings

Step 6:
Before you start sweating copper pipes, assemble all the parts, to ensure, that everything fits correctly. Make sure all copper joints slide together without a lot of forceful twisting. If copper pipes, do not slide easily into the copper fittings, ensure they are not bent into an oval shape. Toss and recut copper pipes, if they don’t fit well.

Now, take apart the assembly, and use the flux applicator brush to put a thin layer of flux, on all surfaces, that will be sweated. Flux the outside ends of all the copper pipes, and, the inside of the copper fittings. Re-assemble the copper pipes, & copper fittings once all fluxed. The flux acid, cleans the copper surface, as you heat the joint, and keeps out oxygen(thus preventing oxidation), enabling the solder to flow evenly.
Tip – use a high quality silver tinning flux and applicator. It will cause the solder, to flow easily, into the copper pipe, & copper fittings.

Tip- Only polish and flux what you will solder today. The acid of the flux will cause oxidation overnight.

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Figure 6 Apply silver tinning flux to both copper parts

Step 7:
Get ready for sweating copper pipe. Be sure to keep heat away from all flammable materials near each copper piece, including framing, wires, and insulation. Cover the combustible materials with copper or steel sheet  metal, or fireproof cloth. Then, unwind about 10 inches of your roll of silver solder. Bend the last 2.5 inches in an 80-degree angle. Light your propane or map torch and adjust to a 1.5″ flame. Heat the copper fitting, with the torch, where the copper pipe fits into it. Utilize the inner flame, and move it around somewhat, so that it heats the whole fitting cup area. After heating for approx 10 seconds, melt the solder onto the joint at its highest elevation. If it is hot enough, capillary action, will suck solder right into the joint. If solder does not, go into the joint, apply more  torch, and try, try again. When solder drips out of the bottom of the copper fitting, the joint is adequately full of solder.
Tip – using the best silver solder will make your copper pipe sweating flow more smoothly. Buy lead free solder that mostly contains silver. The silver solder sticks to the copper fitting joint. Silver solder flows at a lower temperature, thus, less heating is required, and there is a longer flow time.

pipe7

Figure 7 Soldering Copper Pipe

Step 8:
Quickly brush off excess solder, from around the joint, with a damp cloth for a professional finish. But, be careful; the joint is still hot.
Final Step:

Once all joints are soldered, and cool, you can now test your system. Open valve and faucets to bleed out  air. Check for leaks. If you encounter leaks, you will need to re-sweat  the leaking copper joints. Be sure to wash the outside and flush the inside of the copper joints to prevent copper oxidation.

TIP- be sure to drain all water; otherwise the water will boil and  prevent the fitting, from heating up enough to liquefy the solder. Try to reheat and apply new silver solder. If the it still leaks, you may need to replace the defective copper fitting or copper pipe.

pipe8

Figure 8 Advanced Soldering Copper Pipe

Note: Advanced solder technique for larger joints: For horizontal joints, apply the solder, off-center, at the bottom of the joint. When, solder begins to melt, push the solder straight into the joint, while keeping the heat at the bottom of the fitting and slightly ahead of  the solder application. Continue this technique across the base of the fitting and up each side to the top of the fitting, overlapping slightly each time between the already applied solder and the new work. Small solder drops may appear at the solder application point, thus the joint is full of solder.

FYI, The solidified solder, at the joint base, makes a dam, to limit the solder from falling out of the joint as the joint is being filled.

Note: the solder will follow the heat.

For vertical position joints, use a similar series of overlapping passes, starting, wherever is easiest.

This technique takes a bit more practice…..

 

Tools:

Soldering Torch: The basic soldering tool is a torch, consisting of one regulator, tube,  and a tip combination, that screws onto the top of a small propane tank. In order to use the torch, slowly open the fuel valve and light the tip of the torch. A regulator that has a built-in clicker finger actuated igniter works the best by far, its worth the extra few $$.

You can also use  a striker as well. Squeezing the steel handle pushes the flint over rough metal to make sparks, which ignite the gas. Don’t use matches.

Safety Equipment: Always use leather gloves to prevent burns and cuts. Since you may turn the water off to work on the plumbing, be sure to have a bucket of water AND a fire extinguisher handy in case of fire. Use of a flame protector cloth is a wise investment. Using a spray bottle to we flammables is a good idea.

What to tubing type to use for soldering copper pipe?

Find the correct copper tubing diameter. Copper pipe used for plumbing is nominally sized, ie: the outside diameter of the tubing is approximately 1/8″ (0.125 inches) bigger, than its stated size. Therefore, 1/2″ nominal copper pipe is about 5/8″ inches, of diameter.

But, is the pipe the right wall thickness, for your project? Most nominal copper pipe is available in four weights or four wall thicknesses, which are all color-coded. Interior residential projects will mostly involve copper pipe, of two wall thicknesses: Type M or L.

‘L’ wall thickness pipe is marked with a medium blue writing on the pipe and is the most commonly used wall thickness for plumbing. Type L pipe wall thickness is thicker than type M. A hot water heater would still use type L piping since it is not air bled and thus is exposed to oxidation.

‘M’ wall thickness is marked in red writing on the pipe and has the lightest wall thickness,  that can be used for a pressurized system. It is typically used for hydronic(water) heating systems with a closed loop. The closed loop hydronic system has air bleeder valves and thus removes oxygen from the system. The absence of air reduces corrosion in the pipe over the years and thus enables the safe use of the lighter pipe.

DWV pipe is for ‘drain waste vent’ systems and is only used for drains. Since copper is expensive, the DWV piping is used infrequently. Also, it may contain small amounts of lead and thus not appropriate for USP water use, aka, don’t drink the stuff!

Type K copper pipes have even thicker walls than Type L or Type M. Type ‘K’ pipe is normally used to water distribution, fire protection,  HVAC, and oil. K copper pipe is not to be used for natural gas applications, as the gas, can damage joints. K Copper pipe joints, use either flared or compression fittings; ‘K’ tubing is thicker and thus recommended  for underground installations like water line mains.

Type K,M,L piping are available in either soft or hard varieties. M & L piping are usually hard. Refrigeration tubing is usually soft.

Get the correct fittings and joints for your project.

Female & male adapters,  are used to join a soldered pipe to a threaded fitting or pipe.

Reducing adapters or tubing adapters,  are used to go from a smaller size pipe up to a larger pipe.

Street fittings are fitting sized on one end and pipe sized on the other end.

Elbows are used to turn the piping, available in 90 degree bends, 45 degree bends, and sometimes 22.5.

Tees and Wyes are used to join branch piping to the pipe main; a double tee or cross tee or double wye has two branch piping outlets.

What types of Solder are there?

There are several types of solder available on the market, most not suitable for USP or potable(drinking) water. (Solder is pronounced like “sod-er,” not soldier btw.)

Lead solder is made of, or contains lead, and is used for many legal applications such as joining copper drainage pipe(DWV), electrical copper, and copper roofing. Its usually a 50/50 mix of tin and lead. It melts at a relatively low temperature and adheres easily to the copper. Be careful, lead is poisonous, treat it as such while using and disposing. Also some municipalities, like San Francisco, have outlawed all lead uses, check with local building departments. The 1986 amendment to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) banned solders containing lead at concentrations of greater than 0.2% for all potable water systems.

Roof solder is different than other solders for two reasons:  it contains lead and it comes in 50/50(tin/lead) bars, not as coiled wire. Also the technique typically used a flat electric iron instead of an open flame to heat up the copper: safer. Heat up the copper and then apply the solder to where the heat was not where it is. Slowly draw the iron parallel to the joint. The final project should look like a ribbon of mercury after the joint is complete and sealed.

 

Electric solder is also unique. It also contains 50/50 lead/tin ratio, but it has a flux rosin core running down the center of the solder wire(its hollow). Soldering makes a better and more durable electrical connection than wire nuts. Don’t use acid core for electrical, it will ruin your joints.

 

Plumbing  Solder: Must be lead free. Don’t buy the cheapest.

I’ve had good luck with a product called ‘100% Watersafe.’ It has a higher silver content for strength and flowability; melting point is 418-440 degrees F. A silver/  copper / tin enhanced alloy. You get 25% more feet of solder per pound than 50/50. Lead, zinc, arsenic, cadmium, and nickel free and meets ASTM-B32. Great for sweating copper joints.

Lead and silver free solder is cheaper but you will need such a high temperature that you can blacken and oxidize the pipe before the solder melts(you have to use the hotter MAPP gas not propane)….and the high temp stuff does not flow and seal as well either. Unfortunately the good stuff is about twice the cost, but you make this up after the first cheap stuff solder joint that leaks.

Figure 9 Lead Free Silver Solder for copper pipe

 

High Temperature and Pressure Note: Continuous operation at temperatures exceeding 250°F, or where the highest joint strength is required, use brazing not solder for joining pipes and fittings. At higher pressures, or, for greater joint strength, use 95-5 tin-antimony solder.

 

 

Ventilation Caution: The burning flux makes a smoky stink. Be sure to either solder outside or provide adequate ventilation with fans, ect, per OSHA standards.

Helpful Links:

Soldering copper pipe per building code must follow ASTM: B32 – http://webstore.ansi.org/RecordDetail.aspx?sku=ASTM%20B32-08(2014)&sourcekeyword=_inurl%3Awebstore.ansi.org%23inurl%3Asku%3Dastm&source=google&adgroup=ASTM-F&gclid=Cj0KEQjw_9-9BRCqpZeZhLeOg68BEiQAOviWAoTWBEXTDFmna1tyY_puV7kO8dNV_5zxhkv5f48WeW8aAkho8P8HAQ,

OSHA:  https://www.osha.gov/law-regs.html

 

 

 

 

Plumbing Installation – How to Connect Copper Pipe Together

Plumbing with copper pipes is very challenging when you don’t know where to begin. I can help you out with what I have learned through years of experience. I worked with a fellow carpenter years ago that always said “everybody has the ability, but not everybody has the experience”. That is why I am glad to help people get to the end result sooner by sharing my experiences.

If you are planning on doing some plumbing with copper take time to check out these points and your project will go quicker and easier, with professional results.

Planning

Always plan your project before diving into it. You need to make sure you have all supplies needed you don’t want to get half way done and be missing some parts. Measure your pipes and cut and prefit the pipes before you start sweating your pipes.

Also set up a work station if you are sweating more than a couple joints. I like to use 2 sawhorses set up with a piece of plywood on top to give me a nice surface to work on and lay my parts on top.

When I remodel a kitchen I will get all my pipes cut and measured and sweat them together outside or in a garage and then all I have to do is sweat 2 joints in the sink base. If you are working on a kitchen or bathroom it is easier to sweat your pipes before the counter tops are in place.

If you have to sweat pipes near a finished surface place a piece of flashing or thin plywood in between your flame and the finished surface. Also have a spray bottle handy with water in it, this you can use to cool down the pipes or to soak any wood in the area.

Clean

After your pipes are prefit mark them with a marker drawing a straight line or two across the joints. This is helpful with any plumbing because you will put your pipes back together the way you have fitted them.

You need to make sure your pipes are clean in the area that will get sweated together. This can be done with a wire brush cleaner made for this purpose or plumbers sandpaper. The brush is very handy for cleaning the inside of fittings. Cleaning makes the surface fresh and gives the solder little microscopic grooves to melt into.

After cleaning the end of the pipe don’t touch them even the oil of your fingers will mess with you getting your pipes sweated.

Flux

Flux is necessary to help the soldering process. One of the problems to a good solder joint are impurities at the site of the joint, for example, dirt, oil or oxidation. Fluxes also act as a wetting agent in the soldering process, reducing the surface tension of the solder and causing it to flow between the pieces more easily.

Heat

If you are going to do a lot of sweating of pipes get a tank and self lighting torch. These torches will be handy because when you let your fingure off the button the flame goes out. This is better than the other type that is always lit and you have to be careful where you set it down.

I have found mapp gas works better than propane. Mapp gets the pipes hotter quicker making your job easier.

Solder

Buy solder that has no lead in it for your health. When you buy your parts and get your supplies together purchase the right kind of solder for plumbing.

Sweating Pipes

Sweating pipes can be quite easy if the above steps are followed cleaning is very important and then don’t forget the flux and then it is time for the heat.

A half inch pipe joint should use about 1″ of solder, if your pipe is horizontal use enough till it drips out. Watch where you are standing so the molten solder does not drip on you, believe me it hurts. It is always best to put the heat on the coupling you want the solder to run into, the heat will help draw the solder into the joint.

If your sweating existing pipes make sure all water is out of the line. I always turn the main water valve off and open a faucet on a lower level. I once sweated a copper line that was in the concrete slab so I turned off the water and used my vacuum to blow the water out of the lines.

Remember to always plan ahead and you can Do It Yourself.

How to Solder Copper Pipe

Learn how to Solder
Learning how to solder cooper pipes is one of the first things you learn in plumbing school. You need to find you own soldering techniques, the more you do it the more you get feel for it. You will eventually find your groove and be good at soldering.

Soldering or sweating involves using a heart source preferable propane torch not a soldering iron to heat the pieces of copper you would like to solder, solder then gets pulled into the fitting bay what is known as “capillary action”. Capillary action is just the physical action of the solder getting sucked into the fitting. A soldered joint will last for years to come.

To ensure a proper soldered joint is made you will want to be sure to clean the fittings and pipe you are going to solder. Then you dry fit each piece to make sure that everything is plumb and fit properly. Then you simply grab a old rag to use to wipe and you are good to go.

Be sure to have all the proper soldering equipment to complete the job. Be sure you have all the fittings and all the proper pipe you will be using.

Cutting Copper Pipe
Use copper cutters to cut your pieces of pipe. Make a mark on the pipe where you want to make your cut. Put copper cutters over the cut line and tighten the cutters. Do not clamp the cutters down to hard because it will be harder to turn the cutters around the pipe. Once you have clamped the pipe with the cutters you can start to spin the cutters around clamping the cutters more as you go until the pipe is cut. Use the reamer on the copper cutters to ream out the end of the copper pipe you just cut.

Use emery cloth or sand cloth to clean the ends of the copper pipe where you are going to solder, until it looks clean. ( you will be able to see where you cleaned) What this does is removes dirt and grease that creates oxidization. Being sure that you properly cleaned your pipe and fittings will ensure a leak free joint.
Using a wire brush the proper size, clean out each fitting just like the pipe before soldering. Then fit everything together to make sure that all your cut pieces are correct and that you cleaned enough of the ends of the pipe to solder.

Now take everything a part and use soldering flux on the ends where you cleaned the pipe and on the inside of each fitting. Only use a thin layer of flux because the solder will naturally go where the solder paste is and you don’t want to make a mess. Then fit everything back together again.

It’s GO time!
Heat the pipe and fitting equally, keep in mind that where the pipe is in the fitting will take more heat, but not too much. Be sure to keep the heat moving; do not let it stay in one spot for too long, you will cook the fitting. After about 8-1o seconds your fitting and pipe should be hot enough to start putting solder in your fitting. If the solder does not melt on contact apply more heat. When the solder starts to drip out of the fitting then you have put enough solder in the joint and move on to the next one. A rule of thumb to remember is if using ½ pipe, you should only use about 1/2 inch of lead free solder. Sometimes it takes more but this is just to give you an idea on how much solder to use. Just to make it look pretty and professional wipe the joint after you have soldered it. Don’t wipe the joint too early, it will get messy. I usually wait until it’s not shiny anymore. It will also be very hot. If you can, make a temporary soldering station, where you can do as much soldering on the ground before tying it in. Also be careful not to get flux paste near or in your eyes it will burn.

There are also different solder types, the soldering mentioned is lead free soldering, you do not want to use lead solder. Lead soldering is done on drainage lines only and not permitted on potable water lines.

Removing Solder
If wanting to know how to desolder, or un-sweat your fittings, just heat up the fitting as normal and then take two sets of pliers and twist and pull. So hope you enjoyed these soldering tips and now I hope you know how to solder copper pipe.

Have been a plumber for almost 3 years, you know when you find that job?..you know, that one that is for you? Plumbing wasn’t my choice out of high school, but more or less I just didn’t look into it. Now i know what i will be doing for the rest of my life…kind of a good feeling inside I guess… I picked up Plumbing really quick because I really like it and enjoy going to work everyday. But also its the mechanics of it as well. I hope to provide as much info on the plumbing industry as i can. I’m still learning and love learning new things, because there is so much to know, and do in plumbing. It’s Great!

Home Plumbing and Heating Working With Copper Pipe

Copper pipes and piping is one of the most ubiquitous and widely used pipes used in plumbing and heating systems and retrofits. Copper may be more expensive and harder to work with than plastic PVC pipes yet at one time or another you are going to encounter it as a home handyman plumber or heating trades person in your property upgrades, repairs and renovations so you had better had some skills and tools to work with copper. It is only a matter of time, experience and projects.

Cutting copper pipe or tubing without kinking it takes great care and even practice. So it makes good sense to do your best to avoid sawing copper pipe if possible.
Plumbing and heating technical instruction teachers will advise it is always the best route to use a tubing cutter instead. Of course the tubing cutter will be of little use on the larger-sized copper pipes. For those regardless you simply must use a hacksaw, but be sure to equip the hack saw with the finest-toothed blade you can find, or ultimately may have to purchase in a hardware or plumbing furnace heating supply outlet.

Saw as straight as possible – using a miter box will help to obtain a square cut. Eliminate any irregularities on the edge – as well as any burrs inside and as well as out with the use of a file.

If you find that in your work on your home plumbing renovation or upgrade project that you must put the copper pipe in a vise to hold it while you saw, clamp the vice on the pipe as far as humanely possible so that you do not unintentionally dent the end of the tubing or pipe. In the end it can be said that for your attention and care to the project that if you do not have the most perfectly round pipe with a perfect and exact round end you can be assured 100 % that your finished end will not connect well – if at all – to another section or sections of pipe, tube or piping.

Lastly it can be said that in the process copper pipes and tubes can be joined in several way and means. Sweat-soldering is the most common, widely used in the plumbing & furnace heating trades and is certainly the method with the least expense of time and cost involved. However an alternate method of joining copper pipe – “flare fittings” and “compression fittings” are employed and used mainly for flexible rather than rigid type copper piping. Good luck with home reno projects.

Shaun Stevens – Furnasmans One Hour Heating

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How To Sweat A Copper Fitting

I believe that any plumber would tell you that the key to successfully soldering or “sweating” a copper fitting is properly preparing the pipe and fitting for the soldering process. Cleaning the pipe and fitting is essential to get the solder to flow properly and insure that the pipe and fitting have been soldered together. I just refinished my bathroom and used the existing lines that brought the water up from the main to the bathroom. I replaced all the branches or “feeds” for the shower, toilet, and sink. When using existing pipe and new pipe together, cleaning and preparation are critical to insure good soldered fittings and joints. I’ll use my bathroom as an example.

The feed for my bathroom is 1/2? copper pipe but because my shower and toilet position would be slightly different, I decided to route my hot and cold pipes differently to accommodate the changes. I needed to put a 1/2′ copper tee on the cold feed so I could run the cold water for the shower and toilet. I turned the main off in my basement to stop the flow of water. Once I had the water off, I could sweat the fitting properly. If you are a novice at sweating pipe, you need to know that you will never get your fittings soldered properly as long as there is water in the pipe. Even if there is the sligtest amount, it will be enough to keep the copper from heating up to the right temperature. Using a tube cutter, I cut the existing copper pipe back to its desired length. One thing about tube cutters for beginners, gradually increase the pressure on the blade as you rotate it. Putting too much pressure all at once can cause your pipe to deform during the cut. Once the pipe is cut and clear of all water, it is time to prepare the pipe and fitting for the sweat. Existing pipe will usually have a darkish brown tarnished look where new pipe or fittings will usually be shiny.

Look at the existing pipe and make sure that there aren’t any burs on the end where the fitting will go. Use a small file to debur the pipe if necessary. Next take a piece of emery paper and work it around the pipe from the end to about an inch in until it is shinyand free from tarnish. I like to take a piece of clean cloth and just wipe the pipe off when I am through with the emery paper. This cleans any dirt or dust off of it. Next, take a 1/2 ” pipe brush and run it through the fitting. If you don’t have a pipe brush, you can use a piece of emery cloth. Apply flux around the end of the pipe and inside the fitting. Place the fitting on the end of the pipe until it slides all the way on. When sweating a tee, I like to prepare all three pipes and sweat them all so that I don’t have to reheat the pipe and disturb the parts of the fitting already finished.

Once you have your fitting in place, it is time to light your propane torch. Adjust the flame until it is a nice, steady blue flame. Remember that the solder will always flow in the direction of the heat so you neeed to place your torch in a position where the solder will flow evenly around the pipe and fitting and be drawn inward toward the heat. On a tee, you would want to place the torch in the center of the cross bar and heat from the bottom. That way you will heat all three pipes at once and the soldler will be drawn inward toward the heat bonding the pipes to the fitting. In the case of a 90 or 45 degree fitting, place the flame from the bottom on the curved part of the fitting. Once you have the flame on the fitting, you will notice the flux start to bubble. Keep watcching until the flux seems to dry up and the color of the pipe and fitting turn dull. Take your solder and start at the top of the pipe where the end of the fitting is. Touch the solder at this point and when it melts, keep feeding solder as you go around the pipe in one direction and stop at the bottom. Then come back to the top and do the same in the other direction. By placing the heat at the bottom and starting your solder at the top, you will fill in the area where the pipe goes into the fitting because the solder will flow toward the heat. Be sure to do this around all the pipes in the fitting. Once you are done, remove the heat. If you used to much solder, you will have a few seconds where the solder will still be wet. You can take a rag and gently wipe around the pipe and fitting to remove the excess solder and smooth it out. Now let the fitting and pipe cool down without disturbing them. Many solder joints become cracked because they are not allowed to cool properly. I recommend doing some practice in the garage before you attempt the real thing. If you know anyone who has done it before, why not ask them to come over for a beer and share their experience.

Move Over Copper Pipe, PEX Plumbing is Here to Stay

A home plumbing system should meet the needs of the homeowners. If the homeowners want hot water on demand or leak-free connections, then the system should be able to handle it. The longer someone waits for hot water to reach the faucet or shower head, the more water goes down the drain. A typical homeowner loses 12,000 to 38,000 gallons of water per year waiting for hot water.

A plumbing system should also be both durable and reliable. No one wants to discover water stains on the first floor ceiling or mold growing underneath the carpet in the master bedroom. In many instances, water has been leaking for a while before the damage is discovered. A plumbing system that can provide peace of mind is essential.

Today, most homes have copper pipe plumbing systems for water distribution. Copper pipe is easier to work with than other metals like lead and iron, and it’s relatively non-toxic. The availability and water-resistant properties of copper have made it the first choice for most homebuilders for the past century. But as new materials are developed and the price of copper increases, copper piping is no longer the first choice for plumbing systems. A relative newcomer, PEX, is quickly gaining popularity as an excellent material for water supply systems.

Copper pipe plumbing systems

The conventional copper pipe method of plumbing requires that the water supply line branch at the water heater, with the hot water line running through the water heater and then running in tandem with the cold water line throughout the home. Smaller-diameter lines branch off from the main lines to serve water-using fixtures and appliances. This plumbing system requires more fittings, and pipe sizes vary according to the loads they carry. With this system, the water supply is subject to pressure loss if several fixtures on a branch are used at once.

Copper pipe also has to be run around obstacles, so more connections and intersections are required. Sweating and connecting the joints of a copper plumbing system takes time. Furthermore, after construction, the pipe connections are inaccessible. Since many of the joints are hidden behind finished walls, if there’s a leak, the homeowner may not realize it until substantial water damage has been done to the home. Repairs from water leaks can be costly and difficult.

PEX plumbing systems

A new method for water distribution in residential homes is gaining popularity among homebuilders. Known as PEX plumbing, cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) is a flexible plastic piping composed of individual molecules that have been permanently linked together. Cross-linking the molecules creates a durable, stable plastic that can’t be melted and reshaped. The unique features of PEX allow it to be configured in a number of different ways that can increase the performance and water savings associated with the plumbing system. Copper and CPVC are both reliable materials for plumbing systems; however, PEX tubing has several important advantages that make it the best choice for water distribution:

* PEX requires fewer connections. The tubing is available in long coils and is flexible enough to bend around obstructions without the use of connections. Fewer connections mean fewer opportunities for connections to leak and cause water damage.

* PEX is easier to install. Fewer fittings and a lightweight, flexible nature mean PEX tubing can be easily run around and through obstacles in the home and can be installed more quickly – resulting in lower labor costs.

* PEX reduces maintenance and repair costs. Service is relatively simple, since manifolds are corrosion-resistant and the connections are visible. PEX is plastic, so it doesn’t experience pitting, either.

* PEX improves energy efficiency. It reduces the amount of heat lost from water in the piping, increases the response time of hot water, and decreases the amount of energy the water heater uses to deliver hot water.

To ensure a comfortable living environment, a plumbing system should meet the demands of the homeowner. PEX offers homeowners too many advantages to ignore. Although copper and CPVC have good track records in the plumbing industry, PEX’s reliable, flexible nature — as well as its ability to increase energy efficiency and reduce installation time — make it the best choice.

Can You Sweat a Copper Ball Valve?

Modern industry has improved many industrial processes, as well as our daily life. There is no doubt that it is the great progress for the social development. Valves maybe have been used in many generally applications. For example, the water faucets indoors or outdoors are familiar to us. Definitely, they are regarded as gate valves. Despite of gate valves, ball valves are also popular at shutting off the flow. The affecting component is the spherical disc or ball with a hole in its center. It is definitely true that they can make contributions to many water lines. Thus, it is important to have some knowledge of the sweating process for a ball valve. We take a copper ball valve for example.

We can do this task by ourselves if we want. But it should be mentioned that this mechanism should be placed in an accessible place in case the water supply must be turned off quickly. Since the task would be a little complex. But we can try it. It would do favors for us to learn about our houses better.

For performing the process, it is necessary to do some preparations. The mechanical tools should be ready aside. They are the felt-tip pen, tape measure, tubing cutter, emery cloth, soldering paste, roll of solder, propane torch and rag. They may be available in our toolbox or in the nearby mechanical stores. Once prepared, the actual work begins.

Firstly, shut off the main water supply and drain the pipes. Ensure the place to install the copper ball valve and make a mark. Find a place far from the mark in 1/4 inches and make the second mark. These two marks cooperate to ensure the proper position.

Secondly, a blade is used to rotate 360 degrees around the pipes. Such helps to cut through the pipe for the installing of the required copper ball valve. The previous two marks help to find the correct position.

Once cut, the attaching pipes should be sanded. It makes the following step smoother. A soldering paste, also called the flux, can be used to all sanded areas. Such affects well during the soldering operation. It leads to connection between the valve and ends of pipes tightly.

When the required copper ball valve has been totally placed in the required and proper position, it is time to take the soldering process. Propane torch is used to heat all necessary mechanisms, including the end of the ball valve or pipe. But be cautious not to touch any flammable object. When the flux begins to sizzle, wrap the seam with the proper solder. The solder would melt onto the pipes, leading to the tight connection. Once it cools down, wipe away any excess solder and flux from the pipe. Actually, we can do it side by side to complete the entire process. And congratulations for your accomplishment!

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