- How To's & Quick Tips >
- How To: Solder Copper Pipe Fittings
How To: Solder Copper Pipe Fittings
- Photo: Curbly
Igniting the torch. Now you are ready for the torch. I always wear gloves when using a torch. It's a small safety precaution, and all the work that requires lots of finger dexterity is completed by this stage.
To light the torch, open the valve slightly; you will hear a gentle hiss of the escaping gas. The nozzle is designed so that oxygen from the atmosphere of the room is drawn into intake holes, mixing with the propane. Light the flame using a sparking tool or open flame lighter.
Heating the fitting. The hot point in a flame isn't closest to the nozzle, as many people erroneously think, but rather about halfway along its length. Position the torch so that the flame heats the fitting directly (not the pipe). There are almost as many approaches to this as there are plumbers, but my favorite technique is to hold the torch in one position, with the midpoint of its flame heating the section of the fitting that is farthest away from the joint(s) to be sweated. That helps insure that the entire joint is hot when the solder is applied. One aspect about which there is little disagreement is the need to protect surrounding flammable surfaces. A sheet of fireproof material beyond the fitting should be positioned to protect them.
Applying the solder. Let the flux be your guide: When it bubbles out and begins to steam, the melting temperature of solder has been reached. Touch the solder to the pipe. If it melts on contact, you can be sure it's sufficiently hot.
Remove the flame from the fitting before you apply the solder (it's the heat of the fitting that melts the solder, not the flame of the torch). If possible, apply the solder from above so that the combination of gravity and capillary action can draw the solder into the joint. You may need to apply the solder to several points around the joint.
Do all the joints on the fitting at once (as on a T, with three pipes, or an elbow with two). The pipe remains quite hot for some minutes, so avoid touching it with your bare skin.
After all the fittings have cooled, test the lines. If a fitting leaks, you can't go back and just apply more solder. I'm sorry to say that the joint must be reheated until the solder softens; then the joint must be pulled apart, the elements cleaned, fluxed, heated, and soldered all over again.
- 10 Popular Driveway Options to Welcome You Home
- 12 Hobbit Houses to Make You Consider Moving Underground
- 12 Wow-Worthy Woods for Kitchen Countertops
- 15 Ways to Make a Small Bathroom Big
- 20 Clever Ideas for Repurposed Storage
- 10 New Ways to Store Kitchen Necessities
- 12 "Expert Picks" for Fail-Safe Colors
- 10 "Neat" Garage Storage Solutions
- 10 Reasons to Love Architectural Salvage
- 10 Design Inspirations for Mudrooms and Entryways
- Painted Cabinets: 10 Reasons to Transform Yours Now
- Kitchen Flooring: 8 Popular Choices
- 10 "Dream-Worthy" Swimming Pools
- Paint Guide: 10 Essentials for Successful House Painting
- Murphy Beds: 9 Hide-Away Sleepers
- 10 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Home Security
- 12 Ways to Put Your Home on an Energy Diet
- 13 Easy Ways to Repurpose Antique Armoires
- Bob Vila's Guide to Historic House Styles
- 10 Things to Do with... Cross-Cut Trees