How to Solder a Copper Pipe

Tools needed to solder copper pipe
Copper Pipe Solder Tools

Soldering a copper pipe may be necessary when adding a sink to the bathroom or a shower in the basement. Repairs and replacements often require extending or upgrading a plumbing system. The size of the pipe and fittings are dependent on the requirements of the job and the number of sinks and faucets being supplied by the system. Soldering a copper pipe is a simple process requiring only a few minutes and some basic tools. Requirements:

  1. Propane Torch
  2. Flux and a Brush
  3. Solder (lead free)
  4. Flint Sparking Tool
  5. Wire Brush
Copper Pipe Soldering Brush
Copper Pipe Soldering Brush

To begin, the pipe and fitting to be soldered should be clean and dry. Insert the pipe end to be soldered into the hole in the brush. Spin it around until the pipe shines brightly. This does not take much force or time. Then insert the bristle into the pipe fitting and likewise spin. Now brush a thin coat of flux onto the pipe and insert the pipe into the fitting.

Soldering a Pipe
Soldering a Copper Pipe

When soldering a pipe that is going to carry potable water it is important to use lead-free solder. Lead intake even in small amounts over time can have harmful effects on humans. Light off the propane tank burner. Some burners will have their own igniter. If not, a flint igniter works just as well. The flame should be blue and there will be a smaller blue cone within the flame. It is this blue cone that should be directed onto the pipe fitting and the pipe. Be sure to hold the pipe with an oven mitt or heavy glove as the entire piece of metal is likely to heat up.

Depending on the intensity of the flame, the copper pipe should be heated for 30 seconds to one minute. Unspool the solder so there is a 6-inch piece standing out straight. Simply touch the end to the pipe where it meets the fitting. If it immediately melts, continue to apply the solder until the joint is full and sealed. When the solder drips it has more than likely adequately joined the copper pipe with its fitting. Amazingly, a vertical pipe can be soldered into a fitting located above it, the flux drawing the solder into the fitting.

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