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Solder copper pipe

Filed Under: fix-it, weekend projects, plumbing

Copper pipe and fitting
Does plumbing intimidate you? Don't let it! It's not as mysterious or carnivorous as electrical work. Permanent plumbing connections are secured using an assortment of copper pipe and fittings: if you can do Legos, you can sweat copper.

You'll need a propane torch, tubing cutter, emory cloth, flux, lead-free solder, fire extinguisher, and a wire pipe brush for pipe innards. The first thing to do is cut, rough up mating surfaces, and dry-fit it all to ensure a good fit. Let's walk through the procedure for a connection.
  1. Stir flux and brush it on mating surfaces.
  2. Assemble pipe and fittings.
  3. Light and adjust the torch. It's right when you see a flame within a flame.
  4. Touch the tip of the inside flame to the joint and watch the flux boil.
  5. At approximately 15 seconds, the flux will disappear; touch the solder to the pipe/fitting intersection and remove the torch.
  6. When the solder melts, it will be drawn into the fitting where the flux was. You'll have about 10 seconds to apply more solder, if needed. Until you get the hang of it, err on the side of excess.
And there you have it! Keep the fire extinguisher close at hand, and finish any further assembly. Bravo: one more DIY skill in your toolbox!


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