Making your own repairs on your plumbing system saves you money, and it's not as difficult as you may think. View the simple steps outlined below to learn the basics of the art of copper soldering. Make sure to read all of the directions before attempting!
Here are the tools you will need:
- Tube Cutter
- Emery Cloth (Fine Grit)
- Solder (We Recommend 95/5)
- Solder Flux
- Butane or Propane Torch
A few extra fittings and pipe will allow you to practice joining so you can develop your skills inexpensively. You know what they say: Practice makes perfect!
Step 1: Cut the Tube
- First, cut the copper tubing to size with a sharp tubing cutter.
- Tighten the tube cutter slowly to avoid compressing the end of the tube.
- Clean any burrs from the inside and outside of the cut end. A round or half round file works well for this.
Step 2: Clean the Tube
- Clean the tube, inside and out, and the inside of the fitting with fine-grit emery cloth. By cleaning the grease, oxides, and fingerprints from the surfaces, you will eliminate contaminates that will prevent a good joint from forming. Do not skip this step!
Step 3: Apply Flux
- Next, apply soldering flux to both surfaces to be joined using a clean brush.
- Apply the flux liberally to all cleaned surfaces. Soldering flux protects the metals from oxidizing during heating.
Step 4: Insert the Tube into Fitting
- Insert the tube end into the fitting until it fits against the inside shoulder of the fitting.
- Be sure the tube is properly supported and aligned before continuing.
Step 5: Heat the Tube and Fitting
- Heat the tube and fitting with the torch.
- NOTE: It is important to heat the proper areas of the tube and fitting to get the heat distribution needed to draw in the solder. Just follow these simple guidelines:
- With the torch, barely touch the inner core of the flame to the tube and fitting.
- Start by heating the tube and then alternate between the tube and the fitting, being careful not to point the flame directly into the joint area to avoid burning away the flux.
- After a few minutes, touch the end of the solder to the joint to see if it melts. Practice will help you judge the correct temperature.
- Do not overheat.
- If it doesn't melt, continue alternately heating the tube and fitting. Do NOT melt the solder with the torch; simply touch the solder to the joint.
- When the solder begins to melt, it will be drawn rapidly into the joint area. When the joint area is full of solder, you will see a ring of solder all the way around the joint. Take the flame away.
- Use 95/5, 1/8" wire solder. Use 1/2" of solder to fill a 1/2" joint, 3/4" for a 3/4" joint, etc.
Step 6: Let Cool and Wipe
- Wipe the cooled solder joint with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess flux.
That's all there is to it! NIBCO makes do it yourself plumbing repair easy. Now that you know how to solder copper, you can save money by doing repairs and installations yourself. Remember NIBCO for helpful advice and professional quality plumbing products at do-it-yourself prices. NIBCO has a complete line of plumbing products to meet your needs:
- Plastic fittings in CPVS, PVC, ABS, and SCH40
- Copper fittings in various sizes
- Complete line of metal-to-plastic transition fittings
- Complete line of bronze plumbing valves
- Complete Press System
To learn more about where to buy NIBCO products, visit our website or contact a sales representative today!
View our other blog posts on joinery methods including:
- Do It Yourself Plumbing Made Easy: How to Fix a Burst Pipe
- Do It Yourself Plumbing Made Easy: How to Install a Water Heater
- Press Fittings and Valves vs. Solder Installation