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Sweating Copper Pipe

How to solder copper:

1. Cut the section of pipe to desired length. Remember to figure in an extra 3/8" for each fitting being used.

2. Clean the ends of the pipe with emery paper or steel wool until it is shiny and free of burrs.

3. Clean the inside of the fittings with either a round wire brush made for this purpose or rolled emery cloth or steel wool.

4. Test fit everything...then take apart.

5. Apply a small amount of soldering flux onto pipe ends and inside of fittings.

6. Re-fit all pipes and fittings together again.

7. Use a pair of vice grips or pliers to hold the section being soldered. Holding the pipe with a tool too close to the piece being soldered will result in a poor solder joint because the metal tool will draw heat away from the joint. Keep the tool as far away from the heated section as possible.

8. Start heating the pipe one joint at a time. When the pipe is hot enough, touch the solder to the seam of the joint. The solder should flow freely and disappear into the joint. If it doesn't, keep heating until it does.

9. Wipe the joint with a wet towel to clean and set the joint properly.

It would be a good idea to practice with sample pieces before beginning the actual project. A well soldered joint shouldn't have any voids in the solder line.

Try one joint, then look it over.

  • If there are drips and runs inside the fitting, then you used too much solder.
  • If the solder on the outside is lumpy, patchy, not a smooth and consistant run all the way round the joint, not enough heat was used.
  • If the joints/pipes look scorched or burnt, then too much flux or heat was applied.

Thanks to Bob Q for contributing this article!

You can print this page and keep it with your solder torch

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