Soldering brass pipes, or any other type of metal pipe, is an essential skill for plumbing and other home-improvement projects. Brass is a metal alloy that's typically two-thirds copper and one-third zinc. Its melting point is 900 to 940 degrees Celsius. As Pipefittings.com notes, brass pipes and pipe fittings possess great strength. They're also easier to bend or shape than steel or iron. With the right tools and a little know-how, you can strengthen your home's plumbing system with durable, sturdy brass pipes.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Silver or silver alloy solder
- Pipe fittings or unions
- Safety glasses
- Gas blow torch
- Emery cloth or steel wool
- Clamps or vices
- Metal or firebrick work surface
Clean the ends of the brass pipes to be soldered. Use a scouring pad, emery cloth, steel/wire wool, or wet-or-dry sandpaper. Remove any dirt, grease or other particles from the pipe ends.
Prepare the flux. Mix the flux powder with water, according to the product instructions. Use a brush or cotton-tipped swab to apply the flux. Apply the flux neatly.
Push the proper pipe fittings firmly down onto the flux-covered ends.
Place the prepared pipes onto a fireproof surface. Metal or firebrick are good. Light your blow torch. Wear safety glasses while using the blow torch. Apply heat to the area just below the pipe union or fittings. This removes the water content from the flux mixture.
Hold the most intense part of the torch's flame on the pipe union or fitting. Have the silver solder ready to use in your other hand. Heat the flux until it has a runny or watery consistency. Gently touch the end of the solder to the heated pipe, under the union or fitting area. It should encircle the pipe union and suck up inside the area. Apply only a small amount of the solder.
Allow the pipes to cool and become blackened. Dip the pipe ends in cool water. This is called quenching the pipes. Use of extremely cold water may cause the pipes to crack.
Allow the pipes to cool for a few minutes. Remove the excess flux with a damp rag. Repeat steps 1-7 for each new pipe soldering.
Tips and warnings
- Be sure the flame is the right temperature. If too cool, it will not join the flux and solder. If too hot, it will boil the solder and may melt the pipe fittings.
- Be sure you have the right type of pipe fitting for your project.
- You may want to use a vice or clamp to steady the pipes during the torching process.
- Wherever the flux goes, the silver solder will go. Apply flux neatly.
- Pipe ends may also be dipped in the flux-water mixture. This is a timesaver for larger pipes.
- Be sure that your work area is free of flammable substances.
- Always work in a well-ventilated area.
- A well-lighted work area will enable you to be most accurate with your soldering.
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