San Francisco Plumbing - How to Solder Copper Pipe - Page 2

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How to Solder Copper Pipe
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Plumbing HelpHow to Solder Copper Pipe
By Contractor Mike

The tools you need are as follows:

· A propane torch and propane or MAP gas

· A 1-pound roll of solder (not the small electrical stuff)

· A tin of paste flux and flux brush

· A 1/2” steel bottle brush (for the fittings)

· Fine sand paper (or fine steel wool - preferred for use with new copper)

· There are "torch kits" with all of the above included, except fine steel wool

· A 6-inch long tube cutter. Sure, a hacksaw will work, but then you have to smooth out (sometimes re-crimp) the rough edges. Lets do it right!

· One 1/2” copper T's, eight 1/2” copper elbows, and 5-feet of 1/2” Type-L copper pipe (the thick-wall, not the thin-wall)

· A pair of vise-grips

· Cotton gloves

· Two cotton cloth rags (not paper towels)

· A bucket of water

· A fire extinguisher (to be safe)

Four of the copper elbows and most of the pipe are for practice.

Four Elbows Make a Plug

For practice, you are going to make a square copper plug, 4" on a side, out of 1) four of your eight copper elbows, and 2) four pieces of copper pipe, each 3" long. If you can do this without that "unless" part above coming into play, then the actual job in the garage will be self-evident.

Put on your cotton gloves. Cut off four 3-inch pieces of copper with your tube cutter. Notice how the steel rollers kept the ends from being jagged, but the inside the ends are still sharp. Feel it with your fingers. Oh, but you can't because you have gloves on!

Even though the copper pipe is brand new, it still has a micro-thin coating of tarnish that needs to be cleaned prior to soldering. Using the steel wool, clean 1-inch on both ends of all four little pipe pieces until it's all bright and shiny. Set the pieces on your clean cloth rag.

Clean out the insides of your four elbows with the bottle brush. A half-dozen full turns will do. Blow out the fittings after each use of the bottle brush. Set the pieces on the rag.

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Contractor Mike was a General Building Contractor for nearly twenty years in Los Angeles and is now a produced playwright. 

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