How to solder copper flashing?

Copper flashing is used to fix the roof with a copper sheets to stop any water leakage. This is done where the wall meets the roof. Base flashing and counter flashing are the two copper flashing involved in this process. The water from counter flashing is diverted to the base flashing. The base flashing will divert water to composition flashing. There is a minimum weight for copper flashing and counter flashing which is 16 ounces.

Copper counter flashing has many uses:

Soldering Basics – How to flash copper:

  • This attaches and seals the copper. A receiver made in copper is positioned at the joint between two brick layers in the wall. The counter flashing is positioned in such a way that it is locked on the edge of the receiver.
  • In the second method a wood or a strip is used to separate is cast into the concrete wall. The flashing is then inserted into this strip and is held in position by wedges. The strip portion is then filled with a sealing material.
  • To cover exterior counter flashing this is used. The Top portion of the flashing is wrapped by paper used in building. The paper is 4″. The paper is held to the sheaths with a T shaped wooden or metal strip. The T shaped piece can be replaced with wide head nails, but they should not touch or penetrate the flashing.
  • The nails hold the flashing up.

Second: Vertical wall flashing

A vertical wall is flashed in this method. The roof has squares which are locked to the base flashing. The base flashing will extend to a length 8″ up.
Third: Brick wall flashing

In brick wall flashing, Copper flashing is installed to the wall made of bricks. The joint in the bricks is 2 inches of depth. A strip made of wood or metal is formed, making it similar to the first process. The counter flashing is now inserted into this strip and are fixed by the wedges. They are then sealed.

Fourth: Wall intersection:
A cap made out of copper is used in flashing. This cap will extend over the base flashing intersecting the roof and wall. The cap flashing is situated at the joint between bricks. The edge at the bottom is attached and covers the base flashing. This forms a closer fit against the base flashing. The space between base flashing and roof is approximately 12″. The base flashing runs 4″.

Fifth: This is same as the first, but the receiver will hold the upper flashing edge.

Sixth: A Cut is used to hold the flashing with wedges and sealed.

Seventh: Attach a cap flashing to the wall and it is attached to base flashing. Blind riveting method is used.

Seventh: Standing and batten roof
The copper roof is turned upwards to form the base flashing. They are held by the receiver and locked. The counterflashing covers 4″.

Eighth: Batten seam roof
The top of the roof is made into a pan shape. The edge falls above the finished edge and copper flashing is locked here.

Ninth: Standing seam
The standing seam is of 8″ and laid flat on the wall. It is folded and copper pieces shaped in T are used to hold them.

Note: see the ‘How to solder copper roofing’ article on soldering copper

How to solder copper art?

Copper art- Copper has the characteristic of being flexible and it is very famous as copper art is very attractive and detailed due to that character. Copper art doesn’t include only home decor but also copper ornaments and used in refrigerators, fireplaces, etc., The well-known wonder – “Statue of liberty” itself contains 160,000 pounds of copper in it. Sweating copper pipe and soldering copper artworks are no different from each other. Artwork would involve minute pieces to be soldered which would need extra care and handling of right temperature.

How to solder procedure: Soldering Basics

Copper uses a much lower melting point metal as its solder. Select the solder carefully based on the purpose or location of the artwork.

Step 1: Assemble the pieces or sheets required for the artwork. Cut out the shapes from the sheets or trim the copper wires to the required length. Using a filing tool remove burs from the edges. Clean and sand all components to be soldered.

Step 2: Be it a smaller part or a larger part, copper needs to be soldered to hold them in place. Applying flux makes the job possible. Even if the joint of two ends of copper wire look close enough, rub a tiny amount of flux and heat them.

Step 3: Hold them in position to handle the flames in the correct angle and evenly.

Step 4: How to solder properly: When the heat makes the copper to glow red, hold the fire over the area to be soldered and start touching with the soldering wire. Let the flame lick the solder for few seconds to make sure the copper has sucked up the solder.

Step 5: Rub the edges, rims or corners with sand paper to make them get a shine on them. Keep checking the fit of the pieces after every step to ensure you are in place.

Step 6: How to solder copper when soldering a flat surface, Place the two pieces together and heat them up. Do not concentrate the flame towards the centre. Instead move the torch in circles and to evenly spread the head. When the metal glows quickly start touching with the solder and check for any missed spot before cooling them down.

Note: When heating, the size of the copper is to be taken into account. When more heat is applied the metal will glow in an orange shade, indicating its close to its melting point and will be devoid of soldering, or glow yellow, indicating it has melted and would flop down into a ball of metal.

The Lost Secret of How to Clean Copper Pipes Inside

Got green pipes or fittings? Try this evil genius way : how to clean copper pipes inside from copper pipe corrosion.
Green Copper Corrosion

First safety: wear rubber gloves and a full clear facemask(bigger than eyewear protection).

The easiest way to clean copper pipes is to with simple table salt (NaCl), vinegar,  and aluminum foil. Wrap what you want cleaned, Coil the aluminum inside or outside the green dirty copper fitting or copper pipe for its full length. Shape the aluminum so it doesn’t touch more copper than it has to.
Evil Genius stuff#1: The salt moves the oxidizers (SO2 or oxygen) that are chemically bonded to the copper(the green stuff is copper oxide) toward the Aluminum, just like the inside of a battery. In fact that’s how you make a battery.

Now you need an open container. Try a PVC pipe with one end capped. Take your copper and aluminum and put it inside the pipe along with the vinegar – salt solution.

This will yield some results but of course we want it bigger, better, and faster.

Evil Genius stuff#2: Turbo powered

Take two wires, cut one of the wires a couple inches shorter which may help you  to not short out wires together later. Strip the wire ends about ½”. Find a fuse holder, solder to the positive wire to the fuse holder, pop the fuse in and attach to a lantern battery. Put alligator clips on the ends of both wires.

Copper corrosion

Sweating copper pipe

Which wire is positive, and which side is negative? Use a multimeter, or….,   Connect the alligator clips to your battery and separate the ends and place them in your solution. The bubbling lead is your negative. The other big clue is the big plus sign on the battery.

Evil Genius stuff#3: electroplating

. Copper Corrosion

Be sure you have eye protection. Connect your copper  piece to the positive lead of your battery.  Connect the negative lead to your aluminum. The aluminum is being plated and should start to bubble. The solution may get warm. If things get hot, disconnect the battery: you have added too much salt and need to drain and restart.

Figure 2 How to clean copper pipes inside

The aluminum is now being electroplated with copper, there may be gunk forming on it, take the foil out once in a while and hose off to keep the process going…change out the foil once it gets all plated, holey or stops bubbling.

Once the green is gone, rinse off your copper like mad. You have now figured out how to kill the green gunk monster.

How to solder properly – a copper roof!

Copper roofing – Copper roofing is a technique where the roof of the building is designed with copper. It is used in terms of long term roofing. Copper is durable and strong and would make a more attractive roof to the normal roofing. Beautiful!!!

Soldering basics procedure: soldering copper. How to solder.

  1. Measure out the roof and segment them into tiles. The size of the tile is preferable to be in squares as they make it easier to fit in.
  2. Copper sheets are sliced into pieces to the measured length and breadth. An extra 1 1/2 inch is taken up on all the sides for the interlocking and soldering.
  3. Mark off the extra inches to be folded. Two adjacent sides are folded outwards and the other two folded inwards. The outwards would clog to the roof floor or previously soldered copper sheets.
  4. Solder copper along the marked line to make a firm connection when fitting the copper sheets to the roof.
  5. Fold the copper sheets along the marked line with the help of sheet metal brakes.
  6. Other copper pieces about 2 and 3 inches on their sides are required to nail the sheets onto the roof. Bend the sides of these sheets as well with the same technique.
  7. Soldering copper: Apply flux over the ends to be soldered. Use a brush to evenly spread the solder. Soldering copper like these would require a lot of heat and quick fluid motions. How to solder properly? Heavy duty solder irons and big solder bars are often used.
  8. Fix the first sheet with the outward bent edge locking the roof edges. Attach them by locking the outwards of the tiny sheets, two on each side, to the inward fold of the large sheets. Nail down the other end of the tiny sheets to the roof.
  9. Solder the inward fold of the tiny sheet covering the nail part.
  10. Continue the locking of sheets and soldering of tiny sheets. Hammer down the joints using a dead blow hammer to make the joint tight and secure.
  11. Start soldering the large sheets fold after locking them with the second sheet.
  12. Heat the fold and wait until the copper glow. Start soldering the copper folds once they begin to glow and move the torch over the solder to ensure they run down and join the sheets. The heat should not only melt the solder applied on top, but also the already soldered copper edges, strengthening the join.
  13. Pre-tinning helps the solder fully sweat into the joint.

Click on this link to know more.

How to re – solder copper pipe fittings – Repair copper pipe

Points to be cautious about:

  • Mapp gas burns a lot hotter, be careful while handling the Mapp gas torch.
  • Be choosy of your flux. For plumbing use a lead free flux.
  • Cleaning copper pipe: A two way cleaner comes handy and there are different sizes in cleaner brushes too.
  • Cutting copper pipe: while cutting a pipe if you get stuck, take a mini cutter and move it in the opposite direction.
  • While fitting a cutter, snug the cutter onto the pipe. Do not tighten it and form a dent. With each rotation snug the cutter a little more.
  • Do not solder the lower portion first and then move to the top portion, by doing so the heat from the top portion will travel to the closer bottom part and burn the already hot solder. When joints are closer move quickly and evenly on all of them.
  • Do not use your finger to apply flux as they would contaminate the pipes.
  • Have a fire extinguisher or water beside, especially when you are working in wall plumbing.
  • Use a wet rag to wipe the excess solder not a dry one.
  • Wear protective gloves while soldering copper pipe.
  • How to sweat copper pipe?, feed the solder to the opposite side of the flame. The solder will be attracted to the heat source.
  • Do not leave any excess flux. It will turn green and corrode your pipe.
  • Pre-soldered fittings are available at the store. Just apply some flux and attach it to the pipe and heat. The solder will melt and start spreading inside and around the joint.
  • There are fitting that can be just pushed onto the pipe without any soldering. They have teeth on the inner surface which clasps them tight to the pipe. They would require a lot of pressure to clasp them. Mark the depth of the fitting on the pipe to make sure you pushed it deep enough.

Soldering copper pipe – Repair:

-Any leakage in pipes can be fixed by de-soldering copper pipe. Soldered copper joints might wear off and can be fixed too.

-Soldered copper fittings can be removed by heating them again. The copper fittings can be reused by cleaning and sanding them and applying flux.

-Hold the fitting with a tool and heat the joint.

-When the solder melts and starts dripping, twist around the fitting and wrench it out of the tube.

-Use a rag and wipe the tube.

-Take a sand paper and rub them around the pipe.

Then solder the copper pipe or start soldering copper pipe. See other sweating pipes articles on how to solder properly.

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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…..



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 –,






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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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? 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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