04:53AM | 12/31/04
Member Since: 12/30/04
1 lifetime posts
I'm learning to solder 1/2" copper pipe, and am not pleased with the results. I was expecting a nice clean bead of solder around the joint, but instead there are tiny pinholes in the solder that's filling the joint. It looks as if the joint isn't getting completely filled.

I'm using recently-purchased silver solder with matching flux, and I'm using flux on both the outside of the tube and the inside of the fitting. I've cleaned the tubing with an abrasive pad sold for this purpose. I'm propane-heating the connection hot enough that the solder melts easily and wicks around the joint immediately.

And yet, there is no clean shiny bead of solder. Am I doing something wrong, or is everything ok and my expectations are wrong? Do those pinholes in the solder joint represent a potential leak, or are they ok?

I should mention that this is empty pipe, being soldered on my workbench, so there's no water in the pipe.

Thanks for any help anybody can offer.


08:12AM | 12/31/04
Pinholes can be the result of the flux or too much head. You don't want self cleaning flux and you may want a water base. Flux is cheap. You could try another brand. Some plumbers will use only certain brands of fluxes and solders.

When we heat a joint the heat is directed on the pipe, at the pipe to fitting connection, and when you can melt the solder on the opposite side from your heat, you switch the heat to the fitting. The solder should suck in. The no-lead solders require more heat than the 50% lead solders and you can get the no lead solders too hot and boil out the flux. Once you're up to temperature try to avoid getting the joint hotter by turning down your gas or don't keep the flame directly on the joint.

It's great you are practicing soldering. A thin even coat is all you need. Too much flux can hurt your joint. And wipe or wash the joints off after soldering. The flux will eat into the pipe.

I presume when you say silver-solder you mean lead free solder. Usually they have antimony or another substance than silver. It's expensive enough.

Good to mention that this was a dry pipe.


12:10PM | 12/31/04
Member Since: 03/21/04
173 lifetime posts
I use the Otay brand leadfree soldering flux. also I have vfound that a propane torch takes too long to heat the pipe-joint causing bad solder connections. I have switched to the MAPP torch and gas and have not had a bad joint with dry pipe. whe you have wet pipe, push a white bread ball 3-4 inches into the ends of the pipe to act as a water dam so that the torch can dry the pipe prior to applying the solder.



erik peterson

12:25AM | 01/02/05
Member Since: 06/23/03
224 lifetime posts
silver-solder is not required for "general" use copper water piping and is more difficult to work with....use non-lead standard plumbing solder. mapp burns hotter and is generally used by professionals on larger pipe 11/4" and over. less experienced plumbers use mapp as it does burn hotter so joints/fittings that are not properly cleaned, will take. (often leaving black residue at the fitting). erik


05:25AM | 01/02/05
Member Since: 03/21/04
173 lifetime posts
many localities require lead free solder on any piping that is in the home or supplying the home.



erik peterson

08:01AM | 01/02/05
Member Since: 06/23/03
224 lifetime posts
the non-lead type for water has been code for years.....silver solder is usually for refrigeration. erik


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