For many home repairs and improvement projects, skilled and experienced professionals are your best bet.
However, replacing and soldering copper pipes in your home can be done yourself.
As a beginner DIYer, the process of soldering may seem intimidating, but it actually is quite simple, following a few fundamental guidelines.
Keep in mind that the safety guidelines must be followed throughout all steps.
Also, ensure you are wearing eye protection before commencing any aspect of this project.
Clean and Flux
- Ream the internal areas of the pipe using a wire brush or deburring tool.
- Next, using emery cloth, steel wool or sandpaper, clean the pipe exterior and the inside of the fitting.
- Then, use a brush to smear a thin layer of flux all over the pipe.
- Note: Flux should not be applied with your fingers. Being an acid, it can injure your eyes and skin.
- Smear flux on the fitting's inner surface where the pipe will be joined.
- Insert the pipe into the fitting until it seats properly deep inside the fitting.
- Use a cloth to clean off any spilled flux.
Soldering Copper Pipes: Join Fittings and Pipes Together
Before going into the following steps, make sure you are wearing heavy gloves and your eyes are still protected. Also make sure a fire extinguisher is close by, just in case.
- Use fire protection clothing to cover any flammable areas surrounding your work space.
- Take solder wire (8-10 inches) and bend 2 inches of its end at an angle of 90 degrees.
- Light the propane torch with the inbuilt igniters.
- Adjust the flame's blue cone to around one and quarter inches.
- Position the torch such that the tip just comes in contact with the fitting. Heat the fitting evenly by moving the torch back and forth.
- Position the end of the solder wire on the joint, opposite to the fitting from the flame of the torch. As it gets hot, the solder wire will melt into the joint and fill up the space.
- Fill until the solder starts to overflow. Depending on the fitting and pipe size, this usually takes about a half to three-quarter inch of solder wire.
- Do not apply any form of pressure until the soldered joint has cooled for about 45 seconds. Then clean off any spilled solder.
- Fix the pipe and check for leaks. If leaks are noticed, detach the pipe and fitting and solder them again.
If you want to solder a pipe which is already positioned, make sure all water is drained and the insides of the pipe are properly dried before you solder. With careful use, this process can be hastened using the propane torch.