How to Solder Copper Pipe (Important Tips!!) — by Home Repair Tutor

How to Solder Copper Pipe (Important Tips!!) — by Home Repair Tutor


Hey, everybody. What’s up? Today I’m going
to show you how to solder copper pipe. This is something you can do as a DIYer. I know
you have it in you. You just need some extra quick tips to solder copper pipe and be well
on your way. All right, let’s get to it. Before we begin, I wanted to tell you there
are four reasons solder jobs fail. Number one, there’s dirt on the pipes or in the
flux. Number two, there’s lack of heat. Number three, there’s too much heat that
burns off the flux. And finally number four, there’s water in the pipes that absorbs
the heat. So you want to make sure all the pipes are drained of water.
So here are all the different tools you have for cutting. You’ve got standard Ridgid
No. 15 tool. You’ve got your AutoCut tool. And I like the AutoCut tools.
So here you have it. There is an arrow on this. And I wanted to show you real quick
how easy it is to cut copper pipe with the AutoCut tool. You just turn it in the direction
of the arrow, and in a few seconds, you’re going to have a cut copper pipe, which is
pretty sweet, but you’ll have to deburr it.
There’s no deburring tool on the AutoCutter. The little lift that’s created by the cut
can cause your pipe to be a little bit noisy, and it can cause pitting inside the copper
pipe. So you have to ream it out using a reaming tool like this one on the Ridgid No. 15 tube
cutter. You also want to clean out the inside of the
pipe. I know this isn’t absolutely necessary for the inside of the actual pipe, but I like
doing it while I’m cleaning the outside portion of the pipe, too. That way I know
that any copper particles aren’t going to be stuck inside of it. And you want the copper
pipe to be as clean as possible. Even blow it out to remove any kind of little tiny burrs.
So there you go. There it is; it’s super clean.
I like using La-Co Flux because it’s non-acidic, and it won’t hurt delicate copper pipe that
you already have inside your house. So I’m applying a minimum amount of flux to the outside
of the pipe; you don’t need a ton. And if you have any gobs on it, make sure you remove
those gobs because if it gets inside the pipe, the flux can actually cause pitting, and that’s
what you don’t want because it will leave pinhole leaks. So make sure that you clean
the inside of any fitting. Here’s a 90° elbow. I’m cleaning out
the cups of the elbow. And that way, it’ll be super clean. And blow it out, too. Make
sure you blow out the inside of any fitting. And you want to flux it really, really good,
but not a ton again. If you have any gobs inside the fitting, make sure you remove those
flux gobs because, like I said, you don’t want there to be any kind of pinhole leaks
inside your copper pipes because you fluxed it, because you fluxed the pipe too much.
Don’t lay down the flux pipes on a surface. Immediately attach them together. And if you
got separate pieces—in this case you got three separate pieces—you want to attach
all the pieces together before you solder. So here’s a protective pad that you can
put down on wood, or you can put it in your stud bay to protect the wall. It won’t prevent
the wood or the dry wall from smoldering, so you just have to make sure that it’s
not smoldering after you use that. We’re just going to use regular propane;
we’re not going to be using mapp gas, which burns a little bit hotter. Make sure you wear
safety glasses and gloves—really important, especially if this is the first time you’ll
be soldering. Oh, and always make sure that you have a fire extinguisher nearby. That
way, if something is smoldering or on fire, you can put it out. And that’s really important,
right? So you’re going to put a little croaker
hook in your solder. And in this case, I’m actually marking off ½” and 1” from the
tip. Because if you‘re using ½” fittings, you’re only going to be using about ½”
of solder per fitting. So I’m going to be doing two solder joints; I need about 1”
of solder. Now I’m using Silvabrite 100. This is good
for potable water and is lead-free. So that’s what you want, lead-free solder. Turn on your
torch. In this case, I’m having a little bit of trouble lighting it with a lighter.
I know some people say not to use a lighter; I’m okay with that. And you can also use
a striker or a match, whatever you want to start it.
I want to show you something. This blue cone here, that is the hottest part of the flame
and that’s what you’re going to concentrate on your copper pipe. So pre-heating the copper
pipe about an inch or two below the joint, pre-heating for about 5-10 seconds or so,
is really going to help out your soldering job. Then you want to focus that blue part
of the flame on just behind the little cup on this 90° elbow—if you’re soldering
a 90° elbow. And constantly touch the solder to the fitting. Because once it starts to
melt, you’re good to go. You don’t want to burn off the flux. So
as you can see here, the solder’s going into the joint. We’re using the little hook
in it to reach around the back side. And once you see that solder melting, you’re good
to go. And you probably don’t even really need to apply too much heat to the top part
of this particular 90°. Just make sure that if there are any drips, you remove those drips
with solder. Then you can use a damp towel to wipe off the pipes and remove any excess
flux from the pipe because you don’t want excess flux on the pipe. It’ll possibly
corrode it over time. So this is a pretty clean solder job. It’s
a little bit messy in certain parts, but that’s okay; I know that there’s plenty of solder.
And you want to check to make sure that the solder is completely filled in the joint,
that there aren’t any gaps. And you want to do this while you’re soldering. If you
see any gaps, fill it in with the solder, right?
So now I’m going to show you how to do a straight cup link. So this is something that
you use if you’ve got to replace a section of copper pipe if you do in fact have a pinhole
leak. So again, you want to clean out the inside of the fitting using your wire brush,
like this one here. Blow it out; so blow any kind of burrs. And then, apply a thin layer
of flux to the inside. You don’t need very much, right? Remember, you just need a minimum
amount of flux. Again, remove any gobs of flux off the pipe. Attach your fitting. Flux
the opposite pipe, like I’m doing here. Attach them all together. So again, a general
principle is attach all the pipes together and then you want to solder them. Make sure
that any of the bristles from the brush are not stuck on the copper pipe. That’s another
hot tip. Because if they are, that’s going to ruin your solder job.
So again, put that little hook in the solder so you can reach around the back. Because
if you’re in a stud bay, guess what, you’re not going to be able to see the back of the
pipe. So that’s why you put the little hook in the solder so that you can reach around
and be sure that you’re getting all the solder inside the joint.
Pre-heat for about 5 to 10 seconds an inch or two below the joint. We’re going to start
on the bottom here if this is a vertical pipe. So you start on the bottom. You pre-heat.
Then you heat in the center of the fitting. And again, you constantly dab that solder
between the pipe and the fitting. And once you see the solder start to melt, you should
be good to go. The solder will follow the heat. So wherever the heat is, the solder
will follow. So I’m trying to heat the opposite end of the pipe. The solder will follow into
the joints. In this case, it’s a little bit messy. I probably applied too much heat,
right? But once you see the solder melt, you should be in good shape.
And the other thing I wanted to show you is, when you heat it, you don’t have to heat
it up too much. Once you see the solder melt, you don’t have to heat up the joint too
much more to fill in the top portion, right? Then you can take your damp rag, and you can
wipe off the excess flux. And if the solder is still kind of liquid, then you can kind
of smooth that out, too. So as you can see here, we’ve got a pretty
decent job. I probably put too much solder on the top as I was probably concentrating
on not having my hands in front of the camera. So I apologize for that.
But again, you want to make sure that the solder fills in all the gaps in the pipe;
that you don’t have any gaps, that is. You’ve got a really nice sealed joint.
Now the other thing I wanted to show you is the inside of the pipe. As you can see here,
there’s no flux in there. And that’s exactly why you don’t want an excessive amount of
flux on your pipe or fitting because you don’t want the flux to get inside the copper pipe.
Again, it can lead to pitting and all sorts of pinhole leaks.
Now my biggest suggestion is go ahead and buy a bag of fittings. Here you go; 90s. And
just practice; practice maybe 5, 10 times before you actually have to do this inside
that stud bay or between joists, and you’ll be good to go, right? So practice.
All right. Well there you go. That’s how you solder copper pipe. I hope that you liked
this video. If you did, go ahead and click on the subscribe button over here on YouTube.
That way, you won’t miss any of my videos moving forward. And you can visit HomeRepairTutor.com
and sign up for the email newsletter because we do tool giveaways, and I wouldn’t want
you to miss out on that. All right. Take care. Have a great day. I’ll
see you in the next video.

100 Comments

  1. The Bernzomatic site (not easy to navigate) indicates tat for larger pipes (I'm contending with 2" om an awkward pool plumbing location) I'd need a hotter torch than with 3/4. Anybody have experience to share on this?

  2. Yes, I like this video. Having never soldered and now have a need to do so your video is very helpful, thank you. One suggestion, tone down the music, it is distracting.

  3. I wish someone would teach Americans how to actually SAY 'solder'
    Why do you all pronounce it like the 'L' is not there????…..Shakes head!

  4. you wanna not touch the clean part of copper after cleaning it. uhh Because the oils on your skin will repel the solder from making contact copper to copper…

  5. and 1/2 pipe really doesn't need to be peheated cuz the copper is small enough to heat and sweat together. maybe 3/4 inch pipe and 1 inch and up for sure!

  6. Thank you, got setup for $36 and have done several repairs of leaking pipes in my old house. Should have learned to do this years ago instead of trying to use the "Just for Copper" copper glue that always gave me mixed results and was a pain to do.

  7. Thanks for the awesome video! I discovered my PVB Backflow Preventer
    is all jacked up and full of pinhole leaks (it's 15+yrs old and poorly done). I have to replace the whole shebang tomorrow and this video has been a huge help. It'll be my first official sweating/soldering job.

  8. Thanks, man… was upstairs in the walls of the bathroom getting ready for a DIY waterline replacement, got all my tools ready and thought, "maybe a YouTube session is in order to make sure I'm not assuming anything." Sure enough, you gave some points I hadn't considered.
    Well done, and much appreciated!

  9. I practiced like you suggested. And after about 2 hours I'm a pro! I no longer have to pay someone to do small jobs for me!

  10. I'm having trouble with street elbows. The male part of the street elbow is slightly smaller outside diameter than the pipe OD. This leaves more of a gap between the two fittings, which means more solder needs to wick into the joint. However, when solder is melted, sometimes I get gaps in those street joints. Is there a tip? Thanks…

  11. Haven't done this since shop class in high school so I really appreciate your tutorial video. Also thanks for the tips from the comments section also!👍

  12. Hey man what's up with that saving solder tip and then wasting solder whilst introducing it to the copper? Rookie

  13. Ur joint wasnt even soldered all the way around on you up right joint I saw it when you was done and showing all the way around your joints and also don't put a wet rag on Ur joints until after you solder sets up cuz moisture in your solder isn't good it'll oxidized

  14. Just started brazing in class having a lot of trouble getting it down to a science. Hopefully this video helps me. Thank you!

  15. Good video man but you're using a pencil head torch for half inch copper you need a short fat torch you're flame I think is too skinny for what you are doing

  16. The mystical world of soldering copper where only the chosen are allowed to enter. The hardest part of plumbing is asking the customer for you money with a straight face

  17. No no no! You must not touch a properly soldered joint until it has completely cooled. You absolutely cannot wipe a good joint with a rag to clean up or smooth out excess solder. In the electronics industry (my native craft) we call this a "cold joint". A cold joint happens when the parts are disturbed while cooling. This problem is wide-ranged, affecting armatures, repair personnel, and manufactures alike Consider that the average computer has 50,000 solder joints.Many motherboard manufacturers have gone under due to reliability problems regarding cold joints. Don't kid yourself: the same fundamentals apply. Even the slightest movement while cooing will lead to a cold joint.And a cold joint will leak. Not much, necessarily, but it will leak.

  18. It is called "Sweat" not solder.
    Try Mapp Gas. It is hotter and faster. To long on a joint and the flux is burnt away, a common problem for newbies!. Get on it, high heat, make your joint and get off. Also, your tip is not a Rose Bud and if you try 3/4 pipe good luck if you don't have enough room to play the heat point around. All and all I would not let you "sweat pipe" for me.

  19. The hottest part of the flame is at the tip of the blue cone, you are mostly holding the lamp too close. I'm sorry but the end result is quite messy, mainly due to applying too much solder and not observing the capillary action. I wouldn't like to leave jobs looking like that.

  20. I prefer the pre-soldered connectors. They have presoldered rings that simply melt when you heat the connection. You can easily see when the soldering is complete because a silver ring appears around the joint.

  21. If you have trouble with water dripping from where you are soldering try this. Use bread. Roll up some bread and stuff it in the hole. I watched an old plumber do this while he was charging me 200 bucks, haha. Thanks for great video.

  22. I don't understand why you need to pre-heat the pipe below the joint before you heat behind the pocket of the joint. You said the solder follows the heat. So why not just heat behind the pocket? Other how to videos I've seen don't have the step of pre-heating of the pipe below the joint.  So curious why you need or even want that step.

  23. Question: I need to solder a coupling from soft copper water intake lines to soft copper tubing so that I can make a run to the shower valve. Anything I should do differently for coupling soft copper to soft copper?  I worry about how straight the copper will be going into the coupler.

  24. I'd rather go clothes shopping with my wife or visit the Dentist than use propane to solder. Do your self a favor and use map gas or an acetylene torch. It is so much more efficient.

  25. I really enjoyed the your video, I‘m doing soldering for my first time and I’ve watched other videos on soldering but they only covered half the information you covered, it makes more since your way. Thank You

  26. That was a really good video in the way you've explained what you were doing and how it was to be done. Thank you!

  27. That shit is hard, bro. I just used the glue. You need practice and experience. Might as well hire a plumber. If not use the glue. I messed up other stuff trying to solder. If you never have done it, don't do it. Soldering the worst invention ever. It's for the plumbers, not the DIYers.

  28. Good vid first one I have seen where de- burring / reaming was done during prep reaming necessary to cut down on internal water turbulence thanks much.

  29. I literally could have plumbed in an entire kitchen with Pex and sharkbite fittings in the time it took you to solder 1 fitting… This crap is a dying breed. New Pex is more resistant to temperature fluctuations and freezing than copper, lasts longer as it doesn't corrode with time, installs in 1/100th the time as copper and is half or less of the cost of copper. Repairs are so easy a 5th grader can do them as well. If any homeowner has copper, instead of repairing it – replace it with PEX and be happy. There's going to be a lot of Butthurt about my comment – simply because they want to rape you with charges you don't need.

  30. The best trick I learned was using wonder bread or the cheapest bagged bread you can buy, use it to stop water in copper pipe when soldering.

  31. I solder a lot. Almost everyday, but it's with wire. I just have a question. The first solder joint you made seemed to me a cold solder joint on the bottom. Was it just excess?

  32. You can really tell a person's age by their comment. All of the millennial's are saying "just use pex", or "just use a sharkbite"! Always looking for the easy way out. God forbid anyone learns a new skill.

  33. I normally heat mine up from the bottom if possible and once it’s hot enough I remove the heat source and add my solder letting it wrap around. It gives it a super clean look. I had one look so clean my boss thought I missed one because he couldn’t see any solder and the pipe was scratched and cleaned from the discoloration from the heat haha

  34. Always a good idea to put a vac. Test on the job also once it is done, make sure no leaks are present. My 2¢

  35. Correct me if I'm wrong here, if LA-CO is water soluble, excess flux inside the pipe should dissolve into water and get flushed out eventually, right? It seems like it would be impossible to keep flux out of the pipes, particularly if you are heating a joint and the flux is following the heat. In other words, if the solder is following the flux, the flux has to go somewhere. If it isn't falling out of the coupling or joint, you have to assume it is moving into the pipe itself (albeit in a thin amount). Point being, a bit of excess flux is probably better than going too thin and the solder not being able to move where it needs to go due to a lack of flux. No?

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