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New Lead Free ball valves

delta Tdelta T Member Posts: 428
Not sure if I should put this in Plumbing or not, I know more people will see it here and I am curious to see what others think. I have noticed with the new lead free valves, that they are a pain to solder. It seems like they take a lot more heat and by the time you get the valve heated the pipe is overheated and the solder doesn't run like it should. I have not had any problems with leaks but I just feel like I am not getting the right joint. It "feels" different.

For the record, I learned to solder when I was 8, been working for the family business doing it ever since, (I'm 27) so I am pretty confident in my soldering abilities. (though I know I am not as good as some and can always get better!) I use Oatey no. 5 and an acetylene torch setup.

Any one else noticing this? Should I be using a different flux? Tips? Thoughts?


  • kevkev Member Posts: 94
    low temps

    With the torch. move the torch around the fitting so it heats even and just enough heat to get the solder flowing.  I also wait twice as long than normal before I clean the joint. They take longer to cool and set. I have had few problems since using this method.
  • SnowmeltSnowmelt Member Posts: 750
    One comment

    Viega propress, just makes since job goes a lot quicker.
  • TomTom Member Posts: 455
    Lead Free

    One thing I noticed here in Vt where they changed to lead free a couple years back, was if I wasn't using a specific Flux the solder wouldn't run the way it would with the old brass valves. I switched to Utility Flux and it's been much better since, Im sure there are quite a few out there that would work well.
    Montpelier Vt
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    all in the flux

    when I first started using the lead free stuff I didnt get leaks but the joints looked sub par, I changed fluxes and va walla, perfect... or kind of perfect..
  • delta Tdelta T Member Posts: 428

    sounds like I need to start trying different fluxes. appreciate the feedback guys!
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    No-Lead valves:

    Many of us were seeing no-lead valves for the last few years. Try this.

    Take a piece of yellow brass tube. Like for a sink drain. Without cleaning or sanding it, slather some paste on it. Then, heat it up and see if the solder will flow. All the paste I ever used worked on it. The solder should flow easily when you have the tube hot enough and run where the heat if.

    As far as soldering, I haven't seen a lot of people really properly solder fittings so as to not have a potential of a leak. You have to heat from the back of the fitting, not the face. When done, you need to wipe off the paste and solder. If, when you remove the torch, and you can't wipe the solder around the face of the fitting, it wasn't hot enough. If you solder a ball valve, and solder it from the face, and switch to the other end, and do the same, if you can't wile the solder from both ends of the valve, the middle isn't soldered. If you try to get the middle hot enough by soldering the face, you will overheat the middle because the excess heat from the ends. Which will destroy the plastic or Teflon ball seats and the valve will leak. Make sure that the ball valve is in the open position. Or the water in the valve from manufacturing will blow the seat apart from excessive steam pressure. You don't need a 3000 degree flame thrower to heat copper fittings and valves.

    How many times have you pulled something apart and much od the back side was black with paste but not soldered? Next time you take some 1' copper fittings out, cut the back 1/4 with a saw. Look at the solder voids. They didn't leak, but it wasn't hot enough. Especially ball valves. Because there is so much mass in the middle.

    You're overheating the fitting.

    Pasting the inside of the fitting and the tube is good practice.

    Every paste I ever used, you could paste up a dirty, un-sanded piece of copper, heat it up, the paste would clean it and you could run solder on it. If you overheat the tube, the paste burns and the solder won't stick.

    Try soldering two pieces of lead sheet together. If you overheat the lead, it will melt. You shouldn't be soldering way above the melting point of the solder. Unless you like leaks.

    In 1067, when I took my Journeymen's exam. t e practical part was to silver braze a piece of 3/4copper to a 3/4" CXF adapter. If the inspector saw you hold the flame on the face of the adapter and not start from the back, they would take the piece, cool it off and cut it off at the base. If there was a void, you failed. I passed.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Pro-Press & Van Hanger's

    I always used a lot of Van Hangers. The clamp won't fit on the fitting without hitting the finish wall.

    They sure are nice when you need to install a valve in a leaking line.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Third World Fire Extinguishers:

    A water spray bottle works really well to cool a soldered joint so it doesn't move. Its also handy for soldering in close places where you might burn the wood. Spray/soak it before you solder, It has to heat the water to vapor, and heat the wood to burn temperatures.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Member Posts: 1,457

    In 1067, when I took my Journeymen's exam......

    No wonder you retired. :)
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited April 2014

    Part of aging is that you don't notice things like you did when younger. If you can't pick out chords on a guitar or a piano, no matter how much you try, and you couldn't pass Typing 1 in Junior & High School, you probably often hit the "0" when you mean to hit the "9".

    Along with quirky eyesight due to diabetes and bifocal lenses.

    And care in proofreading.

    But I can still see if the fitting isn't hot enough to be properly heated and soldered.

    Wiping with a rag is another form of proofreading.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,599
    Cooling hot joint

    Wouldn't spraying a cooling joint with water be in the same category is wiping it with a wet or damp rag?

    I seem to recall several reports showing this causes minute fractures that may lead to failure down the road. I always let my joints cool on their own and then wipe them down with a dry rag once the solder sets up.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,599

    This is the flux I use and love, but keep in mind I'm a homeowner not a pro but I do a lot of soft soldering and some brazing.

    I hate the Oatey #5 stuff.

    I also prefer this solder.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Cooling Valves:

    If you wait until the solder sets and then wipe it, you won't be able to tell if the fitting was hot enough. Lead free solder melts at under 500 degrees. Map Gas flame throwers won't silver braze easily but are well over 1100 degrees. If you overheat lead free, you ruin the joint and solder. If you solder a 3/4" copper tee, and it is still hot and melting solder 60 seconds after you moved the heat away, it was too hot and overheated. If, after 10 seconds, you can't wipe molten solder around the whole tee, it wasn't hot enough. Especially if you have a grape hanging off the bottom that won't wipe away. If you solder a pressure tee with the run in the vertical position and the branch in the horizontal, the bottom socket will hardly ever leak. The branch might leak on the top and the top fitting will leak anywhere along the top.

    If you ever take apart 3" copper drainage fittings where the fittings are cast bronze (so as to get the best price for the pure copper), notice how much the copper tune isn't completely soldered at the back of the pipe or fitting.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 8,599
    edited April 2014

    Icesailor with all due respect, I do not need to wipe my joints to know if I got the joint the right temperature or not. If you take the torch away for even a second and the solder solidifies you weren't hot enough, it should flow for a few seconds or so without heat. You can tell this in real time.

    As you said if you overheat it that will also cause problems, though I feel the main one is you burn the flux before the solder flows in. Once the solder flows in I'm not sure if you can overheat a soft solder joint other than obviously damaging the valve or other item you are sweating.

    Either way, I still stand by not touching a joint until the solder sets up and cools.

    I quote Mr Mark Eatherton. "As for cleaning joints after the fact, I knock any dingle berrys off of the joint with my wire solder while it is still molten, but NEVER attempt to wipe a joint until the joint has completely solidified. Doing so will create micro-fractures within the soldered joint that don't appear to be leaking, but over time those joints will grow a white fur around the face of the joint where the water is evaporating, leaving the solids from the water behind. If its glycol, it will be bluish/green in color. "
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

    Steam system pictures
    Central air project pictures
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    All due respect:

    When the solder is molten, it is bright and shiny at the face. You can hold the pipe in place while it is shiny. If you move it, it might be a leaker because there may be setting spots in the joint. Which may leak. If you watch the shiny molten solder, it will suddenly turn dull. That's when it solidifies. All the wiping should have been done by then. If you haven't done any soldering or "wiping" lead, you need to. To develop the feel for that space between molten and set.

    I'm sure that you are a fine man with a torch. Anything I write here is to possibly help improve their skills. You heat a lead free ball valve with a flame thrower from the face back and to the other side next, you will lunch the ball seal, or not completely solder it.

    Puss some old stuff apart that wasn't leaking and see what I mean. On 1" and larger, there will be all kinds of voids in the back of the fitting or the end of the tube. The solder didn't run there because part of the fitting was too hot and the solder ran out like water, while a back part was almost hot enough and would have taken solder if it wasn't all running out somewhere else.
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