How to Solder Copper Pipe (DIY)
Is your plumbing troubled by leaky joints? Have you tried fixing it yourself? If not, then you need to give it a try since it is economical to fix it yourself. So, how I do that? I know you might be asking yourself this question. Ok, worry no more. In this article, I will show you step by step how to solder copper pipe to fix your leaky nightmare in plumbing. This is something you can do as DIY, and I know you have some idea. You need some extra quick tips to solder copper pipes to get you on the move. You will learn how to join the copper tubing using the commonly available components in heating and refrigeration supply houses, plumbing, and hardware stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot. Soldering copper pipe involves three easy steps that preparations, actual soldering process and finalizing the joints.
Tools and Materials for Copper Pipes Soldering:
The right copper tubing.
Get copper pipe of appropriate diameter. The outer diameter should be larger to allow the fitting in. When cutting the copper pipe, ensure you use a tube cutter, firmly clamp the pipe and rotate the pipe to cut.
Connectors for Copper Pipes:
Ensure you have proper connectors. Based on your project, you will need some of the following;
- Male/Female adapters for joining threaded pipes to solder pipe.
- Elbow joints often 900 bends used in turning corners. 450 bends are also available.
- Reducing adapters for joining larger size pipes to smaller sizes.
- Crosses and Tees used for joining branch tubing to the main tubing.
Selecting lead-free solder is best used for the potable water system. It is 95% tin and 5% antimony. Solder containing lead should not be used at all cost for the potable water.
Soldering Flux for Copper Pipes Soldering:
Having the right soldering flux will ensure the copper pipe are strongly soldered. Flux is generally a jelly containing zinc chloride, or sometimes jelly with rosin cleaning components. It is used in covering the cleaned copper surfaces to be soldered before heating and assembly. Soldering flux primary function is to prevent re-oxidation, and upon heating it further facilitates cleaning, helps in wetting out the solder and excluding atmospheric oxygen.
An ordinary soldering iron will not be hot enough to work with the copper pipe. You will probably need a source that will provide sufficient to assemble the fittings and tubing. A torch will be the most appropriate for this action. Propane gas or map gas will be necessary. Mapp gas burns faster than propane gas. Therefore, the choice will depend on you. You will also require a lighter for the torch.
STEP 1: PREPARATION.
#1. Cleaning the copper pipes.
Use sandpaper or dedicated brush to have the fittings cleaned before copper pipes soldering. This will ensure the area the fitting is to be inserted is free from any copper oxide coating. The surface must be extremely clean, free from any dirt, grease oil, copper oxide, or any other impediment that would otherwise interfere with the wetting out of the solder. If this is not properly done, then having a leaky joint is inevitable.
#2. Ensure the surfaces are dry.
Any slight drop of water on joints will ruin the whole project. So, to ensure your joints are leak free after copper pipes soldering, keep the surfaces as dry as possible. In case the valves cannot completely stop the drip, then use white bread to stop the pipe. Insert it in the tubing as far as possible from the heated area. The bread will dam the water flow temporarily and easily dissolved during the flushing.
#3. Brush the cleaned surfaces using Soldering flux or paste.
On the outside and inside, apply the soldering flux to the copper tubing surface as soon as possible after the metal surface have been cleaned. You should then assemble the tubing and the fitting.
STEP 2: SOLDERING
#1. Light the Torch.
Using a lighter, light the torch and adjust it to obtain the blue flame. Try and move the blue flame end against the assembled tubing and fittings. Move it around uniformly and slowly while testing the solder melting point of the solder by touching the solder wire tip to the joint.
This activity might be challenging, try and hold the solder with your writing hand and the flame using the non-dominant hand then practice for copper pipes soldering.
#2. Melt the solder into the heated joint.
Have the flame and solder to the opposite side of melted solder. A small amount of solder should be fed continually while moving the torch. Allow the melted solder to run into the cracks and ensure the solder has filled the areas between the fitting and tubing. Keep in mind to avoid overheating the solder.
STEP 3: FINALIZING THE JOINT.
#1. Wipe excess solder
Use a dry cotton rag to clean the excess liquid solder. Next, spray a mist of cold water on the joint to freeze the solder and preventing the movement of a joint that would otherwise cause leakage.
#2. Flushing the pipe.
Once the process is complete, remove any excess flux, loose solder beads, dirt that might remain inside the tubing by flushing the pipe thoroughly using portable fresh water.
Following this guide on how to solder copper pipe to the latter will give a good experience in soldering. To enhance as skills and soldering experience ensure the pipes are clean, enough heat on the joint, and avoid any water in pipes before the joining the copper pipes that would otherwise absorb the heat.
All the best!
Youtube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyVbjDsric4