Hire the best Gas Fitter

trying to solder copper pipe

Results 1 to 29 of 29
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Adelaide mitchell park
    Posts
    59

    Default trying to solder copper pipe

    hello
    I treated myself to a bernzomatic torch for my birthday and i thought i would try my hand at soldering copper pipe together.
    I found a guide on youtub that makes it look fairly easy.
    Anyway i got myself some flux, some silver solder, a pipe cutter and some emery paper.
    I cut the pipe with the cutter as per the instructions. i then used a sharp knife to de-burr the inside of the copper pipe. next was to use the emery paper to shiny up the pipe and the fitting and wiped it down with a rag.
    i applied the flux with a brush to the pipe and to the fitting and then proceeded to heat the fitting. the fitting actually got to a cherry red colour after about 15 seconds when i did take it away. i then applied the solder to the join and expected the solder to flow into the join and seal it, but instead the solder just formed a bead and slid right off the pipework.
    I tried more heat and also tried heating up the pip a bit more (rather than the fitting) but the solder just refused to enter the fitting.
    It was slightly tight when i put the fittings together but i was under the assumption it had to be fairly tight anyway.
    would anyone have an idea what i am doing wrong for the sloder to not go into the join?
    cheers
    Barnsey

  2. #2
    Alien in a Strange Land Honorary Bloke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    South Carolina, USA
    Age
    74
    Posts
    654

    Default

    Dunno for sure, but to me it sounds like it could be a problem with the flux, or technique.

    Solder should flow naturally into the join. Do not remove the torch from the fitting before touching the solder to the pipe. The torch should be at the opposite side of the fitting from where you will touch the solder to the pipe. It cools below flow stage very quickly, so if you are removing the torch then touching the solder to the pipe it likely cools too much to flow the solder.

    It's not difficult to do. Just work on your technique a bit, I suspect. And make sure you have put flux outside the pipe and inside the fitting.
    Cheers,

    Bob

    "The population of Sydney was divided into two classes, those who sold rum and those who drank it."
    --Dr George Macakness (1806)

  3. #3
    That's SIR!!......Not CUR Ivan in Oz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    On the Downs, Darling SEQld
    Posts
    354

    Default Without

    How about.....................
    Clean the Copper,
    and
    NO Flux

    and

    Go from there.............
    Navvi

  4. #4
    1K Club Member Master Splinter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    1,623

    Default

    Sounds like the copper is way too hot. (you are getting the leidenfrost effect).

    Remember that you are trying to warm the copper up, not bring it to its melting point! If you hit red heat, its way too hot and all you are doing is oxidising the copper. Let it cool down, clean it, and re-flux it.

    You don't need silver solder for copper, normal lead/tin solder is fine unless you are doing gas pipe work.

    With normal solder, clean the joint, apply flux (the stuff that looks like brown boot polish works best for me) and assemble the joint. Heat slowly and evenly, and heat at a point furthest away from where you will be adding the solder. (heat at the very end of the joint, so that solder is drawn into the joint).

    Don't hold the torch too near or you might overheat and burn out the flux; solder melts at about 200-300 degrees - copper glows red at about 1,000 degrees (I think).

    The next step up from normal solder is Phos-Copper silver brazing rod. These are the coppery looking rods with a dab of yellow paint on the end that you find in the plumbing section. These DO NOT need flux when joining copper to copper, and the joints they do are pretty permanent (trying to take one apart is a right fiddle and not worth the time!).

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jacksin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    South of Adelaide
    Posts
    312

    Default

    IF you heating the copper to cherry red you are definitely overheating it, risk the chance of it crystalising and having it breakdown over time.

    I would NOT use 'lead/tin' solder as it does not have the strength of silver solder. Remember the old solder filled fittings that one had to slip together and heat? AFAIK they are no longer made

    If your copper is clean there is no need for any flux, unless joining to brass, Heat the joint keeping the flame moving and simply use the 'touch test' with the silver solder to see if its hot enough.
    Jack

  6. #6
    PLU.MBR.BL.DR. bricks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Adelaide - West
    Age
    40
    Posts
    643

    Default from the plumber....

    I've got one of those torches now too, have had it for over 5 years now, they work good.
    The can of gas your using? to get best results, use the mappgas yellow or benzomatic yellow bottles - I think it's methacetylene gas or something. Butane (blue) and propane (red) won't burn hot enough for welding.

    Tips- heat the pipe not the fitting, the heat will travel into the fitting via the pipe
    if your heating the fitting then the heat has to travel right through the fitting and into the pipe for a weld to happen. ( your effectively heating a piece of copper twice as thick as you need)

    no you dont need flux if the pipe is new and clean.
    If you are using flux with a hand torch, you need to spend 30-60 seconds burning the residue away, as the torches are a different softer heat than an oxy unit- you can get specific flux for the hand unit's but it's about $40 for a tub so it is a rip off. Then you can solder on a clean pipe.

    Try to solder in a still air environment, wind will definately make it harder to weld.

    When applying solder with a hand unit you need to heat the joint and apply the solder directly into where the flame (heat ) is, they don't burn as hot as an oxy, I tend to put more solder than i need into the first section and then drag it around with the flame.

    Let me know how you go.
    If you dont play it, it's not an instrument!

  7. #7
    That's SIR!!......Not CUR Ivan in Oz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    On the Downs, Darling SEQld
    Posts
    354

    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacksin View Post
    Remember the old solder filled fittings that one had to slip together and heat? AFAIK they are no longer made
    I remember these as Yorkshire Fittings,
    Had a ring of solder inside the Female fitting.

    Yep
    these;
    from my Apprenticeship days at XXXX Brewery

    http://www.yorkshirefittings.co.uk/p...ubFolderID=253
    Navvi

  8. #8
    Retired Marine Engineer 1K Club Member Ashore's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Newcastle
    Age
    70
    Posts
    1,647

    Default

    Barnsey the silver solder runs with the heat. Clean it all up again , apply flux ( though its not a must ) fit it all together and heat the copper pipe slowly watch the colour change as it goes into the fitting now add slightly more heat to the fitting a few secs only touch the silver solder stick to the fitting and it should run
    I think that proberly in the first case by the time the copper tube was hot enough the fitting was far too hot , thus heat the copper pipe first , and carefull not to overheat , the rest is practise

    Rgds
    Ashore




    The trouble with life is there's no background music.

  9. #9
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    Do a basic welding course, that way you will be shown, and if you must work on your own water service there will be less chance of ruining something and having a plumber sting you for repairing something you tried to! Easier to be shown rather than read it or watch it on pootube
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Adelaide mitchell park
    Posts
    59

    Default

    pootube keeps me occupied at work, that's where i learnt how to make a paper origami rose.....then the pyromaniac in me burnt it with the torch.
    I am using the yellow bottled mapp gas with the torch.
    I tried again this morning except this time a bit quicker (applied the flame for less time). this time the solder stuck to the pipe a bit when i touched the solder but it still didn't suck up through the fitting and even then the solder didn't look 'wet' like i assume it should look (if it is anything like soldering electronics anyway), it was more crystalised as you guys have mentioned.
    i will try heating the pipe first next time and see if that works better.
    i have also picked up one of those brazing rods to see if that is easier or not
    Inciidentally it is copper pipe i have been given for free (i know, in this era of copper salvage rates it does seem very weired) and it is definitely not new. it is virtually a dull brown .colour. It comes up nice and shiny when i sand it for a minute or two however.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Nowhere
    Posts
    638

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Splinter View Post
    You don't need silver solder for copper, normal lead/tin solder is fine unless you are doing gas pipe work.

    Don't hold the torch too near or you might overheat and burn out the flux; solder melts at about 200-300 degrees - copper glows red at about 1,000 degrees (I think).
    Slightly off topic but just a word on 60/40 Tin/Lead resin core solder, which is primarily used for electronics & the like. This solder melts at 183 degrees Celsius. The correct soldering temperature for this solder is between 280 & 300 degrees Celsius, which is well below what a gas torch can produce. If higher temperatures are used with this type of solder, the result can be fractures, dry joins & oxidisation.

  12. #12
    Fixer and Mangler HavinaGo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Melbourne
    Age
    62
    Posts
    35

    Default Flux tells you how hot

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashore View Post
    ...... fit it all together and heat the copper pipe slowly watch the colour change as it goes into the fitting now add slightly more heat to the fitting a few secs only touch the silver solder stick to the fitting and it should run

    Rgds
    One of the benefits of using flux, besides its cleaning action, is that it gives you a clue to how hot the piece is.

    As you heat the part to be silver soldered:
    Flux starts off as white paste.
    First the water boils off so you have white crystal residue,
    Then the flux starts to turn into a clear liquid
    This is the time to add the silver solder. Gently raise the temp a little more and you should get the solder to run.

    If the flux goes black ... too hot, start again and next time not so hot.

    Talking of Silver solder, what is being used? I've forgotten CIG numbers (That tells you how long since I've bought any) but the phos copper gear 2%, 5% or 10% silver is what i think the plumbers used to use. The more silver, the lower the melting temperature. 5% is as low as I'd go for propane torches.

    The model guys use 245 (blue tip) but on NO account use it with water supplies as it has cadmium in it. Fantastic stuff for joining things as it works on ferrous and non ferrous metals, melts at relatively low temps and the join if well done can be stronger than the base metal!
    cheers
    David

    ------------------------------------------------
    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they’ll never sit in. (Greek proverb)

  13. #13
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    Silver Solder
    For copper you want it a DULL cherry red, fitting included. If the pipes hot and the fitting isnt it will run down the pipe but not bond to the fitting properly. With copper, and brass you not only need the capillary attraction when silver soldering but you also rely on inter-granular ( i think thats what its called) attraction where the structure of the copper opens up like pores in your skin and actually "soak" the silver solder in giving you a proper joint. You can use 2% silver with a turbo torch though it takes a little more work. I usually keep a stck or two of 15% just for the turbo torch.
    Soft Solder
    Clean both the pipe and the inside of your fitting. Apply a smidgin of flux. Join the two and heat gently. You will see the yellow-ish coloured flux go a brown colour. Take the heat off and apply the solder to the joint. If its hot enough it will draw itself in, if not apply a LITTLE more heat and repeat the process. If the joint is at the right temp. the solder will instantly draw itself in, when it does this just give a touch of heat to the back of the fitting to draw it in and leave it. Once cooled enough wipe off excess flux with a damp rag, Essential. BTW, soft solder for water pipes shall not contain more than 0.1% of lead by weight.
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Adelaide mitchell park
    Posts
    59

    Default

    ok i got my self a stick of silver solder.
    It had a yellow tip i think.
    i again tried with the soft solder first but i just can't get it to flow into the joint properly.
    I used less heat though and it did flow better, but it just didn't seem to flow into the join.

    now with the stick of silver solder (which looks more like a small copper rod):
    both fitting and pipe were clened and put together. I did not use flux when putting them together.
    i heated the pipe first then the fitting, both got to a cherry red colour. then i dipped the silver solder in the flux and put it against the fitting.
    It bubbled a bit then flowed all around the joint...it definately flowed a lot more fluently than the soft solder.

    I took photos this time so i will show you them when i get home to show what i am using and how the joints came out.

  15. #15
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    sounds like your getting there, but use NO flux when welding copper to copper. None at all. BTW yellow tip silver is 2%.
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Adelaide mitchell park
    Posts
    59

    Default

    ok piccies to find out what is going wrong...or wether i am heading in the right direction.
    first my attempt at the soft solder:
    this is the flux i used

    this is the solder

    and this is my result






    to me it doesn't really look like it flowed really well inside the joint and is not smooth at all around it (i did wipe it with a rag/my t-shirt when i was doing it to see if it made it smoother but it didn't really help )

    Now onto the other sort of style (brazing?)
    here is the rod and join in this picture

    here is the flux that i dipped the rod into before applying it to the joint (i also tried this stuff on another attempt when using the soft solder above but still did not have success)

    "this is a close up? I said a close up you jerk, a close up!"




    from my recollection the brazing attempt looks like it has flowed a lot better around the join and would look sufficient to hold pressure.

    So is it still a heat related thing with the soft solder or is there still something wrong.
    All pipes and fittings are hit with emery paper/steel wool/deburring tool before fitting and heat application

  17. #17
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    The silver looks OK, the soft looks like you've cooked it too well. Heat it gently, it doesnt have to glow, it only takes a few seconds to heat sufficiently, you will know if its hot enough because it will suck straight into the joint, you only need it just hot enough to melt the solder. If you want to have a look, cut the fitting in half with a hacksaw to make a cross section and see if the solder has made its way into the fitting.
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  18. #18
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    Should look like this, photography isnt the best its off my phone
    imgp2286.jpg
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  19. #19
    PLU.MBR.BL.DR. bricks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Adelaide - West
    Age
    40
    Posts
    643

    Default

    Are you sure that solder is ok for welding copper?, I've never seen it before.
    If you dont play it, it's not an instrument!

  20. #20
    1K Club Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Sydney-south
    Posts
    1,858

    Default

    Good point, but why would they bother with 'lead free' Though the label says 'silver bearing' would that mean it has a content of silver????
    But then again if they market the stuff with their little turbo torches they may be thinking that people who buy them are only going to weld some pipe or solder some copper wire together. Try using Coke as a flux, I havent tried it myself but a few of the old-hands say it works a treat.
    Plumbers were around long before Jesus was a carpenter

  21. #21
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Adelaide mitchell park
    Posts
    59

    Default

    i can't be certain on the solder but i assume it is, it also came with a strip of emery paper, just perfect for shinying up some copper tubing and a little brush. and like wonderplumb mentioned, why would bernzomatic release a kit like this if they didn't assume i was going to use it for soldering copper pipe.
    i do have some other 'silver solder' that i bought from bunnings, it came in a blue blister pack and was a small coils worth, i'll try to find the packaging of it and post a piccie up of that as well.
    I'll have another attempt this weekend (i might even try the coke as a flux thing for you if you like....i cant get the solder to look right anyway so why not experiment )
    cheers for the help guys, this has been great
    barnsey

  22. #22
    PLU.MBR.BL.DR. bricks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Adelaide - West
    Age
    40
    Posts
    643

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by barned01 View Post
    i do have some other 'silver solder' that i bought from bunnings, it came in a blue blister pack and was a small coils worth, i'll try to find the packaging of it and post a piccie up of that as well.
    I'll have another attempt this weekend (i might even try the coke as a flux thing for you if you like....i cant get the solder to look right anyway so why not experiment )
    cheers for the help guys, this has been great
    barnsey
    Dude, as far as I know I can't remember ever seeing copper tube solder at bunnies? Your in adelaide right? If you like I'll catch up with you and I'll give you some solder and sort you out on how to use this torch as well.

    I know it's often a personal triumph to master a new skill all by yourself and Im in no way implying that your an idiot, just extending the arm of goodwill from one croweater to another.
    If you dont play it, it's not an instrument!

  23. #23
    Novice
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Daylesford, Victoria
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Due to a renovation I needed to cut off two disused water pipes under the house (used to be connected to an internal hot water heater, since replaced by a gas heater outside) and was hoping the market would provide simple terminating caps for soldering onto the pipe, but no luck (Bunnings and another hardware store offered nothing of the kind). So had to make up contraptions using a capil-coupling and brass plug that I soldered using soft solder, then soldered that onto the pipes.

    A "plumber" at Bunnings told me to just squeeze the pipe. Maybe there is a special tool?

    Joints are good and don't leak, but being soft solder I am not sure if I should leave it or have another go at "hard" solder. Tried silver solder (amphos stick) but the stuff wouldn't melt for me. Hints welcome (including what solder, flux and gas to use).

    Also, how best to attack an old T-section which has a very tiny leak? Don't know if the leak developed recently or existed for a long time. Perhaps just heat it until the old solder melts and reforms?

  24. #24
    PLU.MBR.BL.DR. bricks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Adelaide - West
    Age
    40
    Posts
    643

    Default

    I think you might have trouble with water being in the pipe while you try and weld, best bet is to cut the pipe through, fix the tee and then weld it back together.
    If you dont play it, it's not an instrument!

  25. #25
    Novice
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Daylesford, Victoria
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Bricks,

    Perhaps the water can be drained sufficiently without cutting as there is a tap just outside at the same level (and by opening a tap in the house so there is no vacume preventing flow)..

  26. #26
    Golden Member GraemeCook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Hobart
    Posts
    832

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wonderplumb View Post
    Do a basic welding course, that way you will be shown, and if you must work on your own water service there will be less chance of ruining something and having a plumber sting you for repairing something you tried to! Easier to be shown rather than read it or watch it on pootube
    Looks like you and I are vying for the the worlds worst welder title, Barnsey.

    Thoroughly support Wonderplumbs recommendation. I did a basic welding course at the local TAFE - fifteen evenings of 3 hours - covering basic theory and safety and using all equipment - soldering, braising, arc welding, oxy welding and cutting, and a demonstration of MIG and TIG. Just having an experienced instructor looking over your shoulder, and being able to talk to the other trainees, was invaluable.

    Also, I find its best to buy supplies from a specialist welding shop rather than Bunnings or Mitre 10 because the staff actually know what they are selling and can give reliable advice.

    Cheers

    Graeme

  27. #27
    Old Chippy 6K
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Canberra
    Age
    70
    Posts
    6,572

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by spruik View Post
    Due to a renovation I needed to cut off two disused water pipes under the house (used to be connected to an internal hot water heater, since replaced by a gas heater outside) and was hoping the market would provide simple terminating caps for soldering onto the pipe, but no luck (Bunnings and another hardware store offered nothing of the kind).
    Puzzling, as termination caps are available widely at plumbing supply shops if not Bunnings - as standard or Yorkshire fittings and are referred to as stopends - to suit various pipe sizes.

    Compression fittings using copper or nylon olives are also available although soldered or brazed fittings would be better for this permanent application.

    For examples see the catalogues at (used to be Yorkshire Fittings Pty Ltd): http://www.relianceworldwide.com.au/...ngs/index.html

    BTW - I just love the YorkFlex products:

    http://www.yorkshire.com.au/yorkflex/index.html

  28. #28
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    BRISBANE
    Posts
    114

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by oldbloss View Post
    Puzzling, as termination caps are available widely at plumbing supply shops if not Bunnings - as standard or Yorkshire fittings and are referred to as stopends - to suit various pipe sizes.

    Compression fittings using copper or nylon olives are also available although soldered or brazed fittings would be better for this permanent application.

    For examples see the catalogues at (used to be Yorkshire Fittings Pty Ltd): http://www.relianceworldwide.com.au/...ngs/index.html

    BTW - I just love the YorkFlex products:

    http://www.yorkshire.com.au/yorkflex/index.html
    just watch the use of compression fittings they are not supposed to be enclosed inside a wall and ceiling cavity.

  29. #29
    Novice
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Daylesford, Victoria
    Posts
    37

    Default

    Thanks, had a look at the "F61 Stop End" in the catalogue on that website. Did not see them in Bunnies or the local hardware shop and the "plumber" made no mention of them.

    I would have preferred something that can be soldered onto the pipe, rather than a compression fitting.

    Didn't want to terminate the pipe inside the wall cavity as it won't be servicable anymore after the renovation - don't know the rules but my head told me that wouldn't be a good idea. It's now terminated under the floor.

    I'll have a go at heating up that T junction (You guys call it "TEE junction"?), if it doesn't fix it, will cut it out altogether (the terminated pipe goes to that T junction) and solder a new piece in between.

Similar Threads

  1. silver solder flux residue
    By emptybucketman in forum Plumbing
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 1st Nov 2007, 06:17 PM
  2. Copper pipe type and colour code
    By emptybucketman in forum Plumbing
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 3rd Jun 2007, 01:37 PM
  3. Sealing a copper pipe
    By Stu in forum Plumbing
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 7th May 2007, 01:09 AM
  4. can mapp gas silver solder
    By davo_scuba in forum Plumbing
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 10th Feb 2007, 11:28 AM
  5. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 16th Aug 2004, 08:40 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •