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  • Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

    I replaced some length of copper pipe and some elbows on the hot water side or the return outlet of the hot water tank as there were a couple of tiny leaks. I soldered everything nicely except in one section after using the cutter, I may have made a tiny cut since it turns out that there is still a tiny leak. So after sanding that part a bit, added some flux, that section of copper pipe is not getting hot enough for me to apply the solder.

    There is nothing that I did differently. As a note I am using a propane tank. I again turned off the cold water leading to the tank, opened up the hot water tap in the upstairs kitchen and drained most of the water from the tank. I am assuming that there is still water in the system, which is why maybe the pipe is not getting hot enough. But I drained most of the water. I was able to solder that same section the first time and this is with everything practically assembled as part of the main system. I hope I described the situation accurately.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

    You described your situation accurately, you assumption as to why the pipe is not getting hot enough is also correct. No problem the first time because there was no water. You'll just have to remove the water somehow or take the joint apart and dry the line so you can solder it again.

    That's where practice makes perfect. Which is not a crack on your abilities; it's as true for soldering as it is for brain surgery; if you've done it before then the next time is easier. Soldering copper might not be brain surgery, but sometimes it's nice to have a couple thousand joints (not the weed type ) under your belt, then when soldering in tight spaces it's as easy as brain surgery where they ALWAYS get it right the first time...or do they...look what they did to Bush
    ---------------
    Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
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    “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
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    • #3
      Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

      What can I do to drain the water completely. Open up all the hot water taps to get the air pressure to push the water back down into the tank.

      I don't want to mess with that particular section. It is high up in between the heat vents. I literally had to bend my solder so I can apply it on top of the pipe and heat it from underneath. I would not be able to pull out the joint as it won't get hot enough.

      By the way, another reason I don't want to mess with that section is that the copper pipe for some reason is very soft. Which is why my cutter did not make a clean cut and actually squished the pipe as I was cutting it. Hence the leak.
      Last edited by dieselgg; 03-31-2007, 07:54 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

        Originally posted by dieselgg View Post
        What can I do to drain the water completely. Open up all the hot water taps to get the air pressure to push the water back down into the tank.

        I don't want to mess with that particular section. It is high up in between the heat vents. I literally had to bend my solder so I can apply it on top of the pipe and heat it from underneath. I would not be able to pull out the joint as it won't get hot enough.

        By the way, another reason I don't want to mess with that section is that the copper pipe for some reason is very soft. Which is why my cutter did not make a clean cut and actually squished the pipe as I was cutting it. Hence the leak.
        If you squished the pipe, thus your leak. "Soft solder" which is what you are using, will not fill gaps. Bob D. is right. You have to get the water out to fix it. There are ways to do it and easier ways to fix it.

        Good luck.
        the dog

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        • #5
          Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

          Bob/Plumbdog10,

          Thanks for your suggestions. I decided to remove that section of pipe. There was still water inside so I let it all drain. That section of pipe was so soft. When removing it from the Tjoint, my pliers literally sandwiched the thing. I put in a new section and everything is good now.

          Thanks again!

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          • #6
            Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

            the soft pipe was the type that comes in a role and you need to cut it slow and do not tighten the cutter to fast
            Charlie

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            • #7
              Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

              Thanks for the tip. I'll be better prepared for next time.

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              • #8
                Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                If this was piped with soft copper there is half your problem...you'll never get it straight enough that all the water will drain. It's amazing how many BTUs it takes to heat up and evaporate even a small amount of water in a pipe.

                In the future don't use soft copper. And a shop-vac can be used to blow or suck out water sometimes, depending on the piping arrangement, just think twice before you use one and be sure you won't damage something else connected to the pipe, it's best to isolate everything to avoid problems.

                Soldering 'blind' (can't see what you are doing) is always fun. That's the stuff that separates the journeymen from the apprentices.

                I've had my share of leaks under these circumstances, as I am sure others have. When you are 30 feet in the air on a scaffold or high reach and it's cold and windy and the top of the 4" copper is crammed up against the duct is when it's likely to happen. But as I said once you've done a few thousand you can usually get a good, 100% joint without even seeing it, you can just watch the solder flow and know where to put the heat is what makes the difference.

                I'd be an excellent portrait painter if I just knew where to put the brush and which way to drag it across the canvas.
                Last edited by Bob D.; 04-01-2007, 09:24 PM. Reason: fixed a typo.
                ---------------
                Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                ---------------
                “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                ---------
                "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                ---------
                sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                  Just an update. The soft copper pipe was there from before. We replaced everything with the hard copper pipe and no more leaks. But it still did not solve the problem of the noise in the pipes. We decided for the 3rd time to call the company that rents the hot water tank to us to bring in another service guy. This guy as soon as he heard the noise knew what the problem was. It turns out that at one point they installed the nipple in the hot water side of the tank with a little pastic ball, I assume it is some sort of stop valve. (I'm sure someone knows the proper name for it. They then removed it after numerous customer complaints. So it was just a matter of time before we experienced the same problem. I guess the noise was just travelling up the pipes.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                    Originally posted by dieselgg View Post
                    Just an update. The soft copper pipe was there from before. We replaced everything with the hard copper pipe and no more leaks. But it still did not solve the problem of the noise in the pipes. We decided for the 3rd time to call the company that rents the hot water tank to us to bring in another service guy. This guy as soon as he heard the noise knew what the problem was. It turns out that at one point they installed the nipple in the hot water side of the tank with a little pastic ball, I assume it is some sort of stop valve. (I'm sure someone knows the proper name for it. They then removed it after numerous customer complaints. So it was just a matter of time before we experienced the same problem. I guess the noise was just travelling up the pipes.
                    What type of engineer are you?
                    the dog

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                    • #11
                      Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                      This must be a joke, here we go again ..... just get lost, clean the dust of your computer screen so you can read the text properly. For the 2nd time and last time, I'm an electrical engineer.

                      The first time you had asked me, 'where did I get my engineering degree from?' Do you remember? I'll be more than happy to refresh your memory, here is the link free of charge ....

                      http://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11060

                      Where did you get your mannerism and professionalism from?

                      In university they do not teach us anything about plumbing or the plumbing terminology that the the trade goes by. If someone wants to learn to be a plumber they go to a specialized trade school. I explained this all to you all before? Why are you asking me again?

                      Please don't think about harassing me by sending me pm's. Do it out in the open so everyone can have a read also. So did you understand all that?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                        thet are called heat trap nipples. after so many years in the pipe, exposed to hot water and minerals, they tend to plug, and rattle. make sure they removed both the hot and cold balls

                        rick.
                        phoebe it is

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                        • #13
                          Re: Copper pipe not getting hot enough to apply solder

                          Originally posted by dieselgg View Post
                          This must be a joke, here we go again ..... just get lost, clean the dust of your computer screen so you can read the text properly. For the 2nd time and last time, I'm an electrical engineer.

                          The first time you had asked me, 'where did I get my engineering degree from?' Do you remember? I'll be more than happy to refresh your memory, here is the link free of charge ....

                          http://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11060

                          Where did you get your mannerism and professionalism from?

                          In university they do not teach us anything about plumbing or the plumbing terminology that the the trade goes by. If someone wants to learn to be a plumber they go to a specialized trade school. I explained this all to you all before? Why are you asking me again?

                          Please don't think about harassing me by sending me pm's. Do it out in the open so everyone can have a read also. So did you understand all that?
                          It was a joke. I wouldn't think of pm-ing you.
                          the dog

                          Comment

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