Older houses occasionally require copper pipe repair to fix leaky pipes. Generally, repairing copper pipes is a matter of cutting replacement pipes to fit and soldering them together and in place.
Although this is not an extremely difficult repair job, it requires the right tools and proper safety precautions when using the portable torch.
Step 1 – Turn Off Water
Turn off the water to the pipe. Drain all of the water from the pipe by running the water from a faucet or other connected pipe. In order for the solder to completely attach to the pipes when you join the new pipes in place, the existing pipe must be completely free of water.
Step 2 – Measure and Cut Pipe
Measure and cut the copper pipe. Be sure to include any needed extra space for elbows and junction pieces. Use a wire brush to remove any metal burrs and oils on the pipe.
Step 3 – Apply Soldering Paste
Apply a thick coating of soldering paste to the surface of the pipe that you are going to solder. The paste – also known as flux – will ensure that the solder flows easily onto the copper pipe surface.
Step 4 – Assemble Pieces
Assemble all of your pieces together before putting them into place with existing pipes. Once a joint is soldered it is difficult to make any adjustments.
Step 5 – Melt Solder with Torch
Before beginning the soldering process, make sure you have quick and easy access to a fire extinguisher since you are using an extremely hot torch in a potentially highly flammable situation.
Ignite the torch and turn the flame up until it is about 1 inch long. Taking extreme care not to contact any other surface, place the end of the middle flame directly onto the joint you are soldering together. Move the flame around so that you do not concentrate the heat only on one small area. It should only take a few seconds for the area to heat to the correct temperature.
Touch the end of the solder to the junction of the pipe and fitting to check the temperature. If the solder does not easily flow into the joint, remove the solder and apply more heat with the torch. Do not contact the torch to the solder, the heated metal will heat the solder and make it flow.
Once the metal is hot enough to allow the solder to flow, remove the torch and gently push in about 2 inches more of the solder. Make sure that you apply enough solder to cover the entire circumference of the pipe.
Step 6 – Allow Joint to Cool
Let the joint cool completely before attempting to clean. With the joint cool to the touch, use sandpaper or steel wool to remove any carbon deposits resulting from the soldering process. You should be able to see any possible leak holes or places where the soldering is incomplete. If you discover gaps in the solder, then reapply the solder and repeat Step 5.