- What Is Soldering Copper Pipe?
- How to Solder Copper Pipe in Tight Places
- Safety Precautions When Working With Pipes
Copper pipe is used in plumbing, heating, and cooling systems. It has a reputation for being hard to work with because it can be difficult to solder copper pipes in tight places. This blog post will show you how to solder copper pipes in tight spaces without resorting to any dangerous shortcuts that may cause extensive damage.
What Is Soldering Copper Pipe?
Solder is a copper-tin alloy that is melted in order to join metal components together. It is an easy task to do, but it can be made easier with the use of a few tools. The most important part about soldering copper pipes is making sure that you are using low-temperature solders so as not to burn the material on which you are working.
How to Solder Copper Pipe in Tight Places
Here are a few steps to help you learn how to solder copper pipe in tight places:
Step One: Prepare Your Work Area
Prepare your work area by laying down a tarp to protect the surface you are working on. You should also be sure that there is enough light for you to see what you are doing, and if possible, set up an exhaust fan so as not to breathe in toxic fumes from burning solder or metal.
Step Two: Prepare Pipe Joints
You will need two pieces of copper pipe that fit together snugly with no gaps between them. If they do not, then use sandpaper or steel wool to clean off any corrosion before proceeding further into the project.
Be sure that both ends of each piece of pipe have been filed flat so as not to impede their connection when soldering takes below them; this can make the difference between a watertight or leaky joint.
Step Three: Clean Joints with Solder Wick
Run the flat edge of your soldering pick along each seam that you are about to solder, then hold it close to the flame on your torch until it becomes hot enough for it to become molten and draw away any impurities from within the seams.
Then use solder wick, which has been wound around both pieces of pipe in order to wipe them clean so as not to leave residues behind when the final connection takes place.
Be sure that there is no visible residue left before moving forward into this step; if there is, repeat Step Two again before proceeding further into this one.
Step Four: Apply Flux Paste
Use an acid brush to apply small drops of flux paste along the seams to make your connection.
This is all that is required to create an optimum surface for the solder to take hold on; however, it can also help prevent oxidation if performed prior to Step Four as well as no residue is left behind by this process either.
Step Five: Solder Pipe Joints
Hold a piece of solder with pliers and touch it against both pieces of pipe at once until they are completely coated in molten metal; then remove them from the heat source and wipe away any excess or dripping that takes place using additional wick material before it cools again.
Let soldering set overnight before testing connections, but do not use water right after completing this step as this can cause flux material to become hot and steam, which can allow it to escape from the seams with nowhere else to go except your newly soldered pipe joints.
Step Six: Use Flux as Sealant
If you wish, you can use additional flux paste as a sealant over where solder has been applied to ensure that no more impurities or moisture get into those spots and cause corrosion or other problems down the line.
Simply brush this on using an acid brush once again before heat-curing for around one hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit if leaving overnight is not available.
If you plan to test connections right away, though, adding extra protection against oxidation isn’t recommended since doing so will prevent bonds between copper pieces from becoming strong. Instead, only apply flux after completing all six steps.
Step Seven: Test Pipe Joints for Leaks
After all of this is done, you can go ahead and test the connections to make sure they are watertight by placing a few drops of dish soap onto one end where the solder has been applied before running hot water through it.
If bubbles appear at another end, there is still some leak that needs to be fixed even after completing these six steps above. If necessary, then repeat Step Three or Four depending on how much flux material was used previously to get rid of any impurities that may have caused the joint failure.
Safety Precautions When Working With Pipes
You don’t have to be a professional plumber if you want to solder copper pipe. It is not as complicated as it might seem, but there are some safety precautions that should always be followed when working with pipes.
You need to wear protective clothing and use tools that will keep the heat away from your skin while at the same time allowing you complete control over what you’re doing.
Gloves are an absolute must for this type of job because otherwise, even short exposure can result in burns or blisters on your hands.
Heat-resistant gloves protect against flame-related injuries, which could cause serious damage due to their proximity to oxygen tanks, propane torches, welding machines, or other types of equipment used specifically for soldering purposes.
High-quality work boots made of heavy-duty leather are also something you should keep in your closet for this type of project.
They can protect against electrical shocks, falling objects, or other types of injuries that could be caused by tripping over plumbing materials and tools while at the same time providing support to your ankles, especially when reaching into tight spaces.
With the steps above, you should be able to quickly and easily solder copper pipe joints in the future. You can also read our post on how to use a pipe laser level and know more about pipe wrenches.