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Soldering question

ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
I've been soldering electronics since 1989. I soldered my first pipe in 1993 and feel I'm pretty good at it. Any time I've soldered pipes, valves etc it generally goes beautifully.

It's been a few years since I've done any plumbing but I still do electronics all the time. I feel I'm good with knowing my temperature and how the solder behaves and what to expect.

I do some brazing from time to time too and always liked my joints.

Today I decided I solder some Uponor fittings into some copper tees. I used my Hercules Climate smooth flux and Lenox solder from 2011 and got everything beautifully clean with a light film of flux.

I expected sexy results.


What I got was not so great. It was like the solder didn't really want to stick to the brass. I got it to flow and hopefully they won't leak but that stunk.

I honestly don't think it was my technique. What gives?
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
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Comments

  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    edited March 14
    Does flux go bad?
    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
  • hvacfreak2hvacfreak2 Member Posts: 481
    The brass and copper heat at different rates. The brass takes longer so I usually pause and let it catch up before I try and apply solder. Or heat on the brass fitting first , just depends on the situation.
    hvacfreak

    Mechanical Enthusiast

    Burnham MST 396 , 60 oz gauge , Tigerloop , Firomatic Check Valve , Mcdonnell Miller 67 lwco , Danfoss RA2k TRV's

    Easyio FG20 Controller

    ChrisJCBRob
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @hvacfreak2 said:
    > The brass and copper heat at different rates. The brass takes longer so I usually pause and let it catch up before I try and apply solder. Or heat on the brass fitting first , just depends on the situation.

    I was heating the brass mainly and the brass was hot enough the melt the solder for 5-10 seconds after I pulled the heat off. I don't believe I burned the flux.
    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
  • ctkayctkay Member Posts: 7
    Uponor requires a special flux as do many LL fittings, I don't remember which flux but it can be tricky to use.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @ctkay said:
    > Uponor requires a special flux as do many LL fittings, I don't remember which flux but it can be tricky to use.

    Wonder if I should ditch these and start over.....
    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
  • hvacfreak2hvacfreak2 Member Posts: 481
    Sometimes it seems like the extra time required just makes the flux run out before it's ready for solder. I'm always ready to add more flux while it's hot ( it wastes the flux brush though ).

    But thinking about it , dig down into the flux and see if it's a different color. You may need to dig out some of the old if it looks different.
    hvacfreak

    Mechanical Enthusiast

    Burnham MST 396 , 60 oz gauge , Tigerloop , Firomatic Check Valve , Mcdonnell Miller 67 lwco , Danfoss RA2k TRV's

    Easyio FG20 Controller

    ChrisJ
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    some find no lead brass trickier to solder, you need to heat the pipe a bit more with LL brass. With LL brass I touch the solder to the copper tube more often to see if it has enough temperature to melt the solder. Both pieces need to be close in temperature to avoid burning the flux. Once you overheat water soluble flux, stop, re-clean and start over.

    What type of solder, some solders have a higher melting temperature than the flux burn point :( I like JW Harris Bridgit, low melt point & fills big gaps well.

    Yes I have had flux go bad, depends on the brand.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    This isn't water based flux. Same stuff and same solder I've been using since 2011. I just don't think I've ever done any LL stuff.
    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
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    Had the exact same issue a few month back when I was redoing my system, finally chucked the flux, got a new one from a local hardware store and it got better.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    ChrisJkcopp
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @hot_rod said:
    > Had the exact same issue a few month back when I was redoing my system, finally chucked the flux, got a new one from a local hardware store and it got better.


    It looks like crap on the outside but best I can tell they did flow into the joints. I did these like this because they fit loose and I didn't want my solder flowing down into the pipe. They go pointing upward.

    Since I do see it down inside the joint I've got mixed feelings.


    What flux and solder do you feel works good with this modern brass?
    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
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    I use threaded valves and solder threaded fittings on the pipe and add a union. I ruined the first couple of ball valves I tried to sweat, and I decided it would be too expensive to get good at it.

    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
    mattmia2
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,505
    Just Clean the fitting ,I lluse a wire brush and then a piece of open mesh .it the coating on the outside of the ll brass . I think it just leaded w a coating cause if u clean it well it solders like a copper fitting . I Remember those upionor fitting they sucked but clean em good and easy peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @Hap_Hazzard said:
    > I use threaded valves and solder threaded fittings on the pipe and add a union. I ruined the first couple of ball valves I tried to sweat, and I decided it would be too expensive to get good at it.
    > (Image)

    I've soldered somewhere around 600 fittings. Yes, I've counted. I've also done many ball valves.
    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
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @clammy said:
    > Just Clean the fitting ,I lluse a wire brush and then a piece of open mesh .it the coating on the outside of the ll brass . I think it just leaded w a coating cause if u clean it well it solders like a copper fitting . I Remember those upionor fitting they sucked but clean em good and easy peace and good luck clammy

    I cleaned them really good.
    But maybe........I didn't clean that close to the flange...... Maybe that's why it beaded up by the flange but still flowed into the joint. I don't know there was a coating?
    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
  • clammyclammy Member Posts: 2,505
    I usually brush the edge w open mesh it help leave the wedding ring and use flux sparsely on the same flux till it looks like Pooh and then toss usually a year or so will be less then 1/3 used . When I first started I was first told if your lazy cleaning your fitting n pipe you ll make it up having a leak and havie to do double the work . Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    Canuckermattmia2
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @clammy said:
    > I usually brush the edge w open mesh it help leave the wedding ring and use flux sparsely on the same flux till it looks like Pooh and then toss usually a year or so will be less then 1/3 used . When I first started I was first told if your lazy cleaning your fitting n pipe you ll make it up having a leak and havie to do double the work . Peace and good luck clammy

    Going by my pictures.... And the solder showing on the inside of the fitting what would you do if you were me? Toss them and start over for $25 or use them?

    I cleaned the areas to be soldered very well. They were spotless and I never touch them after cleaning.

    I'm thinking I just didn't clean the areas by the flanges.
    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
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    ChrisJ said:

    I've soldered somewhere around 600 fittings. Yes, I've counted. I've also done many ball valves.


    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    I would disassemble a few joint to see if the solder pulled in. Usually you can see it pull and watch the roll get smaller :)

    If solder is dropping on the floor, it's not pulling into the fitting.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @hot_rod said:
    > I would disassemble a few joint to see if the solder pulled in. Usually you can see it pull and watch the roll get smaller :)
    >
    > If solder is dropping on the floor, it's not pulling into the fitting.

    Ugh.

    I've always avoided trying to pull joints apart. I've never been good at it. Maybe it's time to practice as I need to unsolder a 2" drain too.
    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
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,412
    Can't see the first pic that well.
    The second pic shows it pulled all the way around.
    I think it might just be that the brass is male, so the copper is over heating. Maybe burning the flux a little.
    Will they hold? For me, it's a live sense type thing. Use the Force. But I have complete faith in you.

    I'm no soldering master by any means. Mediocre. No snot. Maybe a faint wiped silver streak. Wipe it clean with a damp rag while the section is still warm.
    Being taught in the field, I was told on vertical piping, sweat the low joint first. Heat rises. Less heat needed on the upper joint(s).
    I wasn't always happy with my bottom joints.
    Years later, helping my plumber brother in-law, he told me to start at the top joint. Yeah heat rises but the bottom joints wont need much, if any flame to pull.
    No more snot on the bottom joints. I've only done ip to 2" inch though. I don't know if that holds true on larger fittings.
    ChrisJ
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    ChrisJ said:

    > @hot_rod said:

    > I would disassemble a few joint to see if the solder pulled in. Usually you can see it pull and watch the roll get smaller :)

    >

    > If solder is dropping on the floor, it's not pulling into the fitting.



    Ugh.



    I've always avoided trying to pull joints apart. I've never been good at it. Maybe it's time to practice as I need to unsolder a 2" drain too.

    Easy to dis-assemble, not so easy re-assemble with out some cussing. If you want to know what is going on inside...

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @hot_rod said:
    > (Quote)
    > Easy to dis-assemble, not so easy re-assemble with out some cussing. If you want to know what is going on inside...

    For the 2" I need to pull a fitting off that goes into the 4" cast iron stack so I can replace it with a shielded fernco. So luckily that doesn't have to go back together.

    For some reason I can't remember what that copper to CI hub adapter is called.
    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
  • GroundUpGroundUp Member Posts: 991
    As has been said, lead-free fittings can be a pain but it looks like you have good penetration, just a poor cap which is incredibly common with that Lennox solder. I've always felt it was too "wet". I only use Bridgit or Canfield solder, preference on the Bridgit. Oatey 95 is a great tinning flux and I feel makes the best joint with LF fittings, but I primarily use Nokorode as it leaves a better looking joint. I've been burning about a pound of solder a month on average for the past 10 years and these are my findings. In your case, I'd heat the joints again carefully and wipe a little more flux on at 200-300 degrees over the entire cap area (don't be scared to load it on) and add a solder cap while heating indirectly, very carefully to avoid overheating the joint.
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @GroundUp said:
    > As has been said, lead-free fittings can be a pain but it looks like you have good penetration, just a poor cap which is incredibly common with that Lennox solder. I've always felt it was too "wet". I only use Bridgit or Canfield solder, preference on the Bridgit. Oatey 95 is a great tinning flux and I feel makes the best joint with LF fittings, but I primarily use Nokorode as it leaves a better looking joint. I've been burning about a pound of solder a month on average for the past 10 years and these are my findings. In your case, I'd heat the joints again carefully and wipe a little more flux on at 200-300 degrees over the entire cap area (don't be scared to load it on) and add a solder cap while heating indirectly, very carefully to avoid overheating the joint.

    That's a lot of solder!
    What kind of torch do you prefer?
    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
  • GroundUpGroundUp Member Posts: 991
    It's a lot of pipe lol. I hate using propress so I solder whenever possible. Depends on the job, bigger pipe and scissor lift jobs I drag an air/acetylene Turbo Torch X5-B with a #11 tip around but the majority is done with a 1lb MAP tank and either a Bernzomatic TS4000 or a Turbo Torch TX500 torch, depending which box I'm working out of as I've got several of each. The TX500 is adjustable which is nice in close quarters for heat management but any old MAP torch will do the job if you've got room to hold the flame away from the pipe to regulate heat
    ChrisJ
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    GroundUp said:

    It's a lot of pipe lol. I hate using propress so I solder whenever possible. Depends on the job, bigger pipe and scissor lift jobs I drag an air/acetylene Turbo Torch X5-B with a #11 tip around but the majority is done with a 1lb MAP tank and either a Bernzomatic TS4000 or a Turbo Torch TX500 torch, depending which box I'm working out of as I've got several of each. The TX500 is adjustable which is nice in close quarters for heat management but any old MAP torch will do the job if you've got room to hold the flame away from the pipe to regulate heat


    Wish I would have used ear plugs over all the years I soldered with those torches.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    GroundUpkcopp
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @hot_rod said:
    > (Quote)
    >
    > Wish I would have used ear plugs over all the years I soldered with those torches.

    I actually do use ear plugs when brazing with my turbo torch these days. Early on I didn't but after a few times noticing my hearing after using it I started.
    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
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    About 50 years ago, my parents built a house, and the guy who did the plumbing left behind a bunch of sticks of silver solder that were, to the best of my recollection, about ½" x ½" x about 10–12" long with rounded ends. That stuff was great, but eventually it got used up, and nothing I've used since even comes close. Does this ring a bell with anybody? I'd love to know where I could score some more of that stuff.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    > @Hap_Hazzard said:
    > About 50 years ago, my parents built a house, and the guy who did the plumbing left behind a bunch of sticks of silver solder that were, to the best of my recollection, about ½" x ½" x about 10–12" long with rounded ends. That stuff was great, but eventually it got used up, and nothing I've used since even comes close. Does this ring a bell with anybody? I'd love to know where I could score some more of that stuff.

    If it was soft solder from 50 years ago it was leaded.
    While I suppose you can go ahead and do what you want I'll pass and stick with lead free on my plumbing.
    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
    trivetman
  • Hap_HazzardHap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,263
    ChrisJ said:

    If it was soft solder from 50 years ago it was leaded.

    That's probably why it worked so well.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA

    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 7,094
    Flux can go bad.

    I went to help out a coworker on a baseboard job last year as he was running behind. He can solder but would rather not so I did it all while he was running the pex. Most of the job was pex but we had to sweat fittings to the baseboard. He had a used can of "Utility" flux which the shop provided which I never liked. I did a few joints with it and just didn't like the results. I went out to my truck and got my can of "NOKARODE" which is my favorite. It was like night and day so I tossed his can of utility. I have used utility before so I think his just went bad

    I like the old Prestolite tips (no noise) for 1" and under and you can turn the heat up and down without burning the tip. 1 1/4" and up I sometimes use turbo tips in my Prestolight torch I put the "snappy adapter " in
    BillyOChrisJ
  • unclejohnunclejohn Member Posts: 1,572
    Look like you got it to me. I will also run the solder around on the inside of those type joints just too be sure.
  • rick in Alaskarick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,086
    Those Wirsbo fittings are hard to solder. I am not sure what it is about them, but it must be something in there makeup that doesn't like solder. I only have problems with the fitting adapters, so I try hard to put in a small stub of copper and then use a regular adapter. I find when I am soldering them that they have a tendency to turn a reddish color. I pretty much use Groundups advice when doing them. I clean everything where the solder will go, including the shoulder, and flux it all. Then as I am soldering, I will add more flux to the problem areas, and cap it. I have even started with the fitting slightly pulled out, and then push it back in after I know solder has gotten inside, and then cap it. Also, keep the heat off the adapter as much as possible and let it get there slowly. That will minimize the overheating.
    You are not alone on this!
    Rick
    ChrisJethicalpaulGroundUp
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    Looking at buying new solder and I'm confused..
    We've got, all from Harris,

    95/5
    Bridget
    Sterling

    Then of course StayBrite and StayBrite 8 which I often hear about being used in refrigeration.

    Harris has very little info about what's best about each product.
    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
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    looks like some good info on the "tips" section. Basic info under each product, or click their "ask and expert" button :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    ChrisJ
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,979
    95/5 seems too "thin" and drips quickly.

    Lead Free Bridget has given me good results since lead had to go away 20-25 years ago.

    After using it a few years, I had to do some non-potable copper lines and thought to use up my old 50/50.
    Leaks galore...just flows differently.....I apparently lost the touch for the 50/50.

    Never tried Sterling.

    StayBrite seemed to be "thin" also but good for ACR.
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    hot_rod said:

    looks like some good info on the "tips" section. Basic info under each product, or click their "ask and expert" button :)

    Wow, Bridgit needs to be a whole lot hotter than 95/5.....
    Why do guys seem to like it so much?
    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
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    I'm betting my older spool of Lenox solder with the purple label is an older version of the "Sterling" solder I keep seeing. Best I can tell, the Lenox also has silver in it....

    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
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,509
    the benefit is pretty much in its name, it fills gaps in loose tolerance fittings well, flows and stays "liquid" to cap off joints.

    Request some small sample spools and make your own comparisons.

    If you tell Harris what your use is they could offer selections.

    Solder, like thread dope becomes a very personal choice :)
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
    GroundUpChrisJJUGHNEHap_Hazzard
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,065
    I've seen Nokorode mentioned.......
    Which Nokorode? There's a bunch of different versions.

    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
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