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Posted: 5/18/2005 9:05:39 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/20/2005 12:27:02 AM EST by Goldcollector]
I installed a water softener and an inline sediment filter this evening. I put everything together before cutting into my existing water line. I cut a 4" piece out and went to do my final 2 joints to tie into the water.

I cleaned the insides of the 2 elbows and the outsides of the pipes. I then put flux on all 4 surfaces and connected the 2 joints. I was pleased because everything lined up. I fired up my little propane torch and grabbed my solder. I did the top one first, the out side from the softener going up to house. Last one, the bottom that ties water into softener. Something went wrong. My last joint and the solder won't melt. I heated the pipe and when I touch the solder a piece will break off and fall to the floor. It doesn't stick to the pipe or suck into the joint. Like it's not hot enough. I changed to a new propane bottle and it didn't help.

Could I burn off all of the flux? Could the solder be bad? Is my flame not hot enough? Could it be that this pipe has water in it and it is dissipating the heat?

I don't know what to do. It won't pull apart now. It's 2 AM and my wife is in bed. She has to get up in a few hours for work. I can't bang around on it. I have to get it fixed or she will have no water. I am also down to my last 3" piece of solder. I'm in trouble here.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:11:08 PM EST
I'm no expert, but the only time I've seen that was due to water washing away the flux. The guy doing it heated it up and took it back apart, and then put the center of a piece of white bread in the pipe to stop the water. He quickly soldered it, before the bread had time to get saturated and leak through, then he removed the aerator from the faucet and turned the water on. The bread hunks came out and all was fine.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:28:52 PM EST

Originally Posted By GoGop:
I'm no expert, but the only time I've seen that was due to water washing away the flux. The guy doing it heated it up and took it back apart, and then put the center of a piece of white bread in the pipe to stop the water. He quickly soldered it, before the bread had time to get saturated and leak through, then he removed the aerator from the faucet and turned the water on. The bread hunks came out and all was fine.



Plumber's Bread.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:48:40 PM EST
Get a MAPP torch. It will solder a pipe with water in it, just be damn sure to open the line, otherwise the pressure can get too high...BTW, you should always solder with the valve open.

If the Wal Mart isn't open, try the bread technique or find some way to drain the joint. Part of the plumbing skill is keeping the joint dry while soldering. Its all in the sequence of making up the joint.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:52:45 PM EST
I'm betting the guy that comes out to save him will have only moderate plumbers cleavage but a mighty big hourly rate. Who'll take big cleavage and lower rate?
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:54:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: 5/18/2005 9:57:01 PM EST by SNorman]
If the solder doesn't melt, you have water in the pipe. You need to take it all apart, drain any water out, stick some bread in there to keep any more from getting close, put the sucker back together and solder it again. If you have a 1.2 Jiggawatt torch and you can actually melt solder with water in there, steam will come out through the joint and make little holes in the solder and it will leak anyway.

If the solder doesn't stick, you lost your flux and/or charred the outside of the pipe. Take it apart, scrub the sufaces again with your wire brushes and re-flux, put it back together and try again.

The whole process of soldering a joint shouldn't take more than 15-30 seconds. After that, start over... it will NEVER work.

I was doing some plumbing and my father in law came over to "help" (since I had never soldered pipes before, and supposedly he could do it). Well, we couldn't get the solder to stick either. He was just FRYING the pipes, saying "these pipes should be red hot, that's why it's not sticking"... he kept the torch on there for minutes. The whole pipe turned black. He lit a stud on fire. Then he blamed the solder. "Oh you bought the wrong solder, that's it! This is the wrong stuff!!" So to humor him, I take him down to True Value. All they have in stock is the stuff I bought (at Home Depot). So we go back empty handed.

Eventually I said, "OK let's just forget this... I'll cap this up and try again tomorrow". The next day I read some stuff online *again*... and practiced in the garage and found the secret. I am now the master. Like I said...

1) Clean well
2) Flux well
3) Heat it up (make sure it's heated all around evenly)...
4) As soon as it's hot enough to melt the solder (right about when the flux starts boiling) feed in a bunch of solder and then leave it alone.

Cut a bunch of pieces and practice.
Link Posted: 5/18/2005 9:57:58 PM EST

Originally Posted By SUPERSPORT:

Originally Posted By GoGop:
I'm no expert, but the only time I've seen that was due to water washing away the flux. The guy doing it heated it up and took it back apart, and then put the center of a piece of white bread in the pipe to stop the water. He quickly soldered it, before the bread had time to get saturated and leak through, then he removed the aerator from the faucet and turned the water on. The bread hunks came out and all was fine.



Plumber's Bread.



Wonderbread works best.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 12:50:27 AM EST
Yes, it was water.

Obviously the main valve was shut off before I cut into the pipe. The main is vertical so I used a long dropper to suck the water out. I thought I was good to go, wrong.

After posting here I went back and got it apart. Water shot out. Then I realized were it came from. I had cut the main above the T for the outside lines. No need to soften water for the flowers. The water was coming back through those pipes and up. Luckily it has a shut off of its own. I shut it and that stopped the water.

After sucking the water out and cleaning everything I tried again. I was scrapping for flux and burned my fingers using the last inch of solder. It worked.

The softener is sanitizing now with Clorox. Should be done before my wife gets up. She didn't know what I was doing down here. It was a surprise that almost backfired.

Thanks guys.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 7:58:59 AM EST
Glad it worked for you.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 8:11:19 AM EST
Even with MAPP you can't solder a water filled pipe.

BTW, I HATE f%$*# plumbing.

I repeat, I HATE f%$*# plumbing.

If you didn't get it the first time, I HATE f%$*# plumbing.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 8:16:56 AM EST
Hey Goldcollector good job!! Feels good when you turn on the water and it doesn't leak huh?
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 5:28:55 PM EST
Not to spoil your fun, but in most localities solder is illegal to use for plumbing joints. It must be silver soldered or brazed. That means MAPP gas torch at the minimum.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 5:34:17 PM EST
Clean and tin (solder and wipe) the joining pipe first. Solder will flow into the joint after it's tinned.

I had the same problem with a water heater install a few years back.
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 5:42:21 PM EST
Glad you got it nice and tight Goldcollector. Job well done.

I'll offer another tip to soldering, for those reading this thread
with torch and solder in hand.

There needs to be an opening for the hot air to escape when soldering pipes.
Usually this only is important in the "last" sweating. And usually this can
be accomplished simply by opening a valve. Otherwise the heated air will
escape through the solder you are melting at the time. Can you say leak?

My apologies to those that found this tip obvious.

DanM
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 7:27:15 PM EST

Originally Posted By 2manytoys:
Not to spoil your fun, but in most localities solder is illegal to use for plumbing joints. It must be silver soldered or brazed. That means MAPP gas torch at the minimum.



Lead solder for domestic water lines is banned per EPA. The current lead-free solders will still melt with the old propane torches. Just takes a bit longer to heat up.

This is what we use with Mapp gas torches:
http://www.taracorp.com/products_premier1.php?taracorp=29055a095a74d243f74b13ff83254637
Link Posted: 5/19/2005 7:30:42 PM EST

Originally Posted By Goldcollector:
No need to soften water for the flowers. The water was coming back through those pipes and up. Luckily it has a shut off of its own. I shut it and that stopped the water.


Just a BTW: You should only have softened water for your washing needs only, ie dishes, clothes etc. From what I understand, you should not drink soften water because it contains sodium, too much sodium which is not good for you.
Link Posted: 5/20/2005 12:30:25 AM EST

Originally Posted By warlord:

Originally Posted By Goldcollector:
No need to soften water for the flowers. The water was coming back through those pipes and up. Luckily it has a shut off of its own. I shut it and that stopped the water.


Just a BTW: You should only have softened water for your washing needs only, ie dishes, clothes etc. From what I understand, you should not drink soften water because it contains sodium, too much sodium which is not good for you.



That's OK. I don't drink the water here. It has an unsafe amount of lead in it.

My next project is to install the reverse osmosis system I bought to take the lead out. It will also take care of sodium and a ton of other things. It's for the kitchen sink and the ice maker. I had to install the water softener first or the hard water will burn up the reverse osmosis system.
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