It’s so easy to solder copper pipe. Just watch the entire video and remember to use lead-free solder. I’ve been soldering copper pipe for years, and believe me I’ve seen my share of messy work and failures. Let’s break this down into a few simple steps.
Cleaning The Pipe
I know I know, you just bought some nice shiny pipe and fittings and you’re thinking it’s fine. This is far from the truth. No matter what, you must clean any and all areas that you want the solder to work on. Either by sandpaper or with a wire brush. While I’m thinking of it. My rule of thumb is wire brush on the inside of fittings and paper on the outside, fittings, or pipe.
Fluxing The Pipe
Oh yes this messy stuff, Oh you may not think so, but when you’re done you’ll see what I mean. Good soap to clean your hands. Now, what is Flux? I just tell people it’s an acid. But really it’s a chemical cleaning agent plus more. You need to use it. Try it without and you’ll soon find out why. The solder won’t ever think about sticking.
Soldering The Pipe
In short there are two kinds of solder. Solder with lead and solder with no lead. The solder with lead tends to be easier to solder with. But I’m sure you’re thinking, “lead”, water! And you’ll be correct. If the pipes you’re soldering is going to be drinking water you would use a solder without the lead. Simple right. 60/40 is pretty common. 60% Tin 40% Lead. Lead-free would say 95/5 which is 5% Antimony, 95% Tin.
Using The Heat
Now let’s not start thinking you need one of those cool acetylene torches. Hey yeah, they are cool, but not needed at all. They are good for soldering much bigger pipes and if you’re doing a lot of work. I mean I have one and I use it whenever I can. However, if I don’t have it on me I just grab my propane torch, and away I go. I don’t even think about it. And yes for soldering copper pipe, propane is fine. And it’s cheap. Yes of course you can use the yellow tank, aks Map gas. Map gas burns hotter making your job go a little faster. But whos rushing here.
Placing The Solder
Instead of me getting crazy with techniques I’m just going to lay it out simple until you find your own. It’s simple, heat the fitting, not the pipe. Trust me the pipe will get heated. Now, remember what I said. Heat the fitting, and try not to place the flame on the solder. Keep touching the edge of the fitting with the solder. Once it’s hot enough the solder will melt and suck right in that joint and stick to the whole area you cleaned and fluxed