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Lead Free

bill nye_3
bill nye_3 Member Posts: 307
 Has anyone , other than me, had trouble soldering the new lead free fittings. I have had two leaks in the last two weeks and I "NEVER" have leaks. Both were on unions for HW AM 100 US thermostatic mixing valve. Solder "took" all the way around the copper pipe but not on the brass union. Maybe I did not scratch the surface enough ? Re-cleaned and re-soldered seemed OK. Not what you need at 5:30 PM

Comments

  • Tom_133
    Tom_133 Member Posts: 884
    Bill

    I have been dealing with lead free fittings in Vt for a few years now, I had the same problem as you. I changed Flux brands and everything is good. Though I have found if there is any part that is unclean it will leak, it seems there is no room for error when it comes to these lead free fittings. I hope there is some health benefits to changing over to this new code because it's such a pain.
    Tom
    Montpelier Vt
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    Tips

    Look for a low lead soldering video at the Caleffi site in a week or so.



    The difference is the low lead alloy does not conduct heat as well as the leaded stuff. As you heat the brass it expands quickly and increases the tolerance between fitting and tube making it tough to heat the tube inside the fitting



    So you need to heat the tube outside the fitting first until you see the flux bubble. Then move the heat to the base of the fitting and move it around the fitting to heat evenly. Feed solder around the joint until it drips. Remove the torch as soon as the solder flows or you may burn the flux. At that point cool the joint re-clean and start over. Once you burn the flux you're done, start over!



    If you heat just the fitting it does not solder like the good old leaded brass.



    The CDA has a low lead soldering video also. For some reason they keep adding and dripping solder after the joint fills? Looks like as much solder on the floor as in the fitting :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Lead free Soldering:

    If you ALWAYS paste both fitting/pipe and socket, I found that I never had a problem. I always pasted both in case I forgot to paste one. The other one would always be pasted and flux the un-pasted side. In the very, very rare case I didn't do either, I knew immediately that I hadn't.

    Its really easy to overheat fittings when using the popular flame throwers in use today. Until you get used to them. Because I have a personal aversion to burning wood or paint, I stuck to my "B" tank and #3 tip.

    My personal opinion from experience is that far too many don't heat and solder properly. You MUST heat from the back of the fitting, and move to the face. If you start at the face, you have no way of telling if the middle of the fitting was hot enough. And heat is what makes the flux work. If the flux doesn't work, the solder isn't going to work. Especially if there is any moisture in the fitting. You can heat it up and solder the face, but the back will be unsoldered. Especially ball valves with a lot of mass. And if you overheat them, you will wreck the Teflon/plastic ball seat and the valve won't shut off properly. If the solder is running off the fitting like water, the fitting was over heated. You should be able to wipe off the solder and paste a moment ( 5 to 10 seconds) after you take the heat away. If it won't wipe, the fitting wasn't hot enough.



    If it is a valve in a vertical position, start at the bottom and move to the top. The bottom will NEVER leak. The top will get hot at the base from heat convection. If the solder starts running through, let it cool and then lightly heat the top face. When it fills without running through, you have it. Overheating is as bad as under heating.  The bigger the fitting and bigger the mass, the easier it is to under heat it if you heat from the face.

    Guys (and gals) who wipe their fittings seldom have leaks. They develop a feel for when it is not hot enough or when it was overheated. And the work looks neat.
  • bill nye_3
    bill nye_3 Member Posts: 307
    Solder

    "aversion to burning wood or paint"





    I
  • bill nye_3
    bill nye_3 Member Posts: 307
    Solder

    (sorry)

    Ice , I call the burnt wood "Cajun Plumbing" because of the Blackened boards and beams! Even if I singe the wood even a little I clean it with sand cloth.



     You made realize I have been soldering for over 50 yrs. !  I started helping my Dad when I was about 6. I have soldered with every kind of torch except the gasoline ones from the 40's. I have even used electric. I have used 50/50 60/40 95/5 , lead free , silver, etc. Pipe and fittings,  sheet copper, metal, radiators, lead pipe , etc. Everything from 1/8 " to 4" pipe. Braze, silver braze etc. I once soldered a fitting from almost four feet away , under a hot tub in a celebrities home. I taped the torch to a stick and fed the solder through 3/8" copper tubing.



     So when I say I was surprised to say I had recurring leaks I have a little bit of experience.  Thank you for all the good advice , you too Hot Rod, I try to keep an open mind and it is never too late to learn something.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    edited May 2014
    Solder Extensions:

    I once soldered a piece of 5/16" copper tubing to the end of a #3 tip, and took a piece of wood strapping and nailed some solder on it. And soldered something with it. I don't remember where or what it was for. The boss was happy.

    Which reminds me of the best helper I ever had. He went on to become a fine licensed plumber. **** had a long past and there wasn't anything he and I wouldn't do. He worked in a ship yard in New Bedford, repairing old wooded fishing draggers. When it came to drilling holes and stuffing pipes, he had no equal. He liked to work alone once the boss realized how hard he worked. The boss got this job plumbing a new multi-story restaurant and he sent **** down to rough it in. **** would walk around and not want to be bothered while he worked it out on how everything went together. Once he started, he would drill EVERY damn hole in the whole building. He might spend more than a day doing it. So, he spent a day and a half drilling holes. He left at 4:30PM with the plan of coming back in the AM, plugging his holes.

    Now, I forgot to mention that **** wasn't all that tall, but he wasn't short either. But, he was STRONG. He and I always found it easier for the two of us to move something around than having the boss send a couple of extra guys to help us and get in the way. **** had a favorite expression. "Keep one end on the ground". In other words, don't pick it all up when you have a dolly. So, when **** spoke, people listened.

    So after leaving for the night, the contractor who built the building had hired some cheap off island crew of electricians to wire the place. They got off the 5:00 PM boat and went straight to the job site. Where they were thrilled to find that the whole building had been pre-drilled for their wire with nice big holes all over the building and smaller ones too. They worked until 3:00  AM and figured that they cut two days off their time. They had wire strung everywhere.

    **** showed up at 7:45, smoking his pipe and his tools in his 14 Quart galvanized bucket in one hand and his Prestolite in the other. He looked around and saw the wires in his holes. He walked up to an electrician and asked him quietly, where the boss was. Someone was pointed out. **** quietly walked up to him and asked him if was the boss. "Yes". I'm the plumber. I just spent a day and a half drilling holes in this building. I didn't drill holes for your wires, I drilled holes for my pipes. I have to go and get something. I'll be back in a half hour. Any wires, in my holes, and I will chop them off with my hatchet. And he left. When he came back a half hour later, all the wire was cleared out of the holes.

    His hatchet was as sharp as all his chisels and drills. He used to pick up discarded and dull chisels and drills and turn them into lethal weapons. All wood trembled in his presence.

    What made me remember and think of **** was that when we worked together, we soldered a lot of DWV copper for wastes. We never had any leaks. I went on to more important things the boss wanted me to do, and **** soldered a lot of Copper. One day, he stopped me and told me of how he had ripped out a lot of old copper that he had done and some that I had done. **** used to pull the copper apart to separate the pure copper from the brass. He told me how much of the pipe and fittings weren't properly soldered. From a lack of heat at the back of the fittings. They never leaked under testing, but weren't fully soldered. I started pulling things apart and saw the same thing wherever I went. No matter how old it was. So, I changed my technique. I found that wiping the solder off a joint gave me a good indication if the joint had gotten hot enough. Molten solder is shiny. Solder becomes flat when it sets and cools. If it looks flat, and you let it move, and it instantly becomes flatter, you might end up with a leak. A spray bottle with water is a great fire extinguisher and soaking the wood before you solder, makes it so you seldom need that sand paper to get rid of the chars. Which you and I will always notice.  
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,121
    good explanation here

    http://mechanical-hub.com/soldering-of-no-lead-copper-alloy-fittings-valves-and-components



    This video is at Mechanical-hub.com. Andy does a great job of explaining the procedure, and ends up with a good look joint. Just seems like too much solder ends up on the floor :)



    I like the look of a nicely capped joint and don't wipe joints, personal preference is all. And don't spray water on a hot joint or you can have problems. A wet rag after the joint cools a bit will clean up any flux residue.



    All tradesmen find the perfect combo of flux, solder, torch, and method that works for them. I have switched flux brands a few times over the years, and solder types, and I did learn with leaks that the new no, or low lead, alloys take more care to get a perfect joint, it's not just you.



    Cutting joints apart is a good way to see what going on inside. Some plumbing pratical exams I have taken have you solder joints and they cut and pound them apart for your grade.





    I've also gone back to a basic Prestolite actylene torch, a 50 year old one that was my dad's. The LOUD Turbo type torches are hard on what little hearing I have left. And they can tend to heat small diameter tube and fittings too quickly if you are not careful, or use too large of a tip.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream