Hot Topics: What Makes a Good Solder Connection?

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So, you’ve started DIYing and even tackled your own plumbing. When you solder your new joints, there’s a lot of action happening out of sight, behind the copper. How do you know if your fix is going to last? Ask the Forum. (Spoiler alert: as with most things, it's all about prep.)

Original Post: First time solderer, reliability?

mummy Member

I recently soldered my first connection. No leaks! But how do you know the joint will stand the test of time? If it was going to leak likely you would see it right away, or could a leak manifest over a period of time? Is it kind of hit or miss?

Highlights from the Thread

lawrosa Super Moderator

A leak can develop at a later time... Sometimes you just know by how the solder flowed or if you over heated the joint.

Gunguy45 Super Moderator

And though I'm no Pro, I feel a lot depends on how much solder you use. I think a typical ½-inch connection should use about an inch or so of solder, maybe more. Excess will run off. If you do it right and get good wicking, you can almost look at it and see it's right.

Handyman663 Member

You are probably good to go. One trick a master taught me years ago: if the solder is not wicking properly (usually on an old pipe), don't fight it. Cut out a section and start anew with a pair of couplings. Also, I am really anal with prepping the tubing and fitting. I may be a little slow, but I can't remember my last leak.

PJmax Forum Topic Moderator

It's all about the cleaning. When I was a little kid I worked with my uncle who was a plumber. I spent hours cleaning fittings. He's always said "it's got to be clean if you want it to last."

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