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The importance of getting soldering Flux off

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  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    It didn't leak for 30 years, but eventually it will eat through the solder joint. I tell all my plumbers:
    1) Have one clean damp rag ready and wipe the joint as soon as joint goes from molten to  "hard." Get all Flux off while its hot 🔥.   Rub hard..
    2) Clean joint with  dry rag to follow up and wipe off any residue.   

    If ya really wanna preserve it, WD-40 joints . Mad 🐕 Dog 🐕 
    exqheat
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    You ain't  gettin no press in here!  I li
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    Love my Taramet Sterling.  It flows like Irish 🍀 Buttermilk.  Caps nicely too!  Mad Dog 🐕 
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,476
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    Us that BX cable touching the copper tube anywhere? I’ve seen that cause pinholes also.

    Looks like maybe a tiny pin hole caused all the white scale deposit?

    A great application for an ell😉
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    The BX and T 18 were all zipped tied NOT on the line that leaked. Mad Dog 🐕 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    You know that old saying: "It will put hair on your chest!!"  Just the opposite when you're soldering above your chest and its raining down molten balls of hot 🔥 solder...and they roll down your belly..oww..Silver solder 
    Worse..they'll burn a deep hole 🕳 first..ha ha 😂.   Mad Dog 🐕 🤣 
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,476
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    A hot solder ball removes tattoos also. Not advised🥴
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Mad Dog_2
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    I think that joint had a small leak for a long time. I know Ill get bashed for saying it.

    We see the green from excess flux every day, it doesnt spread that far or get that thick.
    hot_rodMad Dog_2
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,839
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    Which is why I always use "Nokarode flux" but I wash it off anyhow. The worst flux for corrosion in my opinion is "utility" flux which is popular around here.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 8,167
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    WOW! That is really Fluxed Up!
    I wouldn't let that plumber Flux around with my pipes.
    Un-Fluxing-Believeable!

    Edward Young Retired

    After you make that expensive repair and you still have the same problem, What will you check next?

    MikeAmannMad Dog_2GGross
  • CLamb
    CLamb Member Posts: 299
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    My Dad taught me likewise. Wipe off the flux while it's still hot with a wet rag.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    I disagree.  It was done 30 yrs ago by the father in law GC.  Even small leak would've damaged the sheetrock much more. I've seen this in my own house which I totally gut renovated in a crawl space on the back side of a fitting on my copper fire sprinkler system.  I didn't want to drop (Food Grade Glycerin antifreeze).   I silver brazed 99% of the joints but did a few 95/5  joints.  As carefully  as I cleaned them off,  I missed a spot. I watched it for years grow and progressively spread the white crusty Oyster shell 🐚. Thingee. Like last year it started getting wet.  Who knows?   Mad Dog 🐕 
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,114
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    When soldering I also would always wipe my joints w a rag and then spray and wipe w a de greaser or windex and re wipe w water . I cannot agree more w Matt . Nothing worse then crappy solder joints but now just about every body just presses there copper and hardly anyone solders . Sad point being all those press joints usually tightly coupled when there’s a leak or a alteration needs to be done it all in the garbage and new press fitting re placed . Here’s your green on one side and wasteful on the other . All for the press but not the biggest fan but every guy I know who swore it off now presses and everyone states they would have kept on soldering but just got aggravated by non soldering no lead valves and bit the bullet and went press and never looked back on the downside what used to cost 50 cents a fitting is 3 buck mim and fitting and where talking small stuff .just like shooting a gun anybody can just about do it so very little skill are required just pull the trigger . I have to admit I press also and it the same reason no lead valves suck for soldering plain and simple unless cleaned with in a inch of its life , plus I just pass those extra costs onto the customer it a fair compromise time and money .
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    Mad Dog_2
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    If that amount of corrosion was from flux not being wiped off, every joint in that house, and every soldered joint in America would eventually look like that. They don't. That joint had a SMALL leak, maybe not enough to drip, but enough to constantly stay wet.

    Heat it up and take it apart without twisting it. it would be interesting to see the solder joint.
    ethicalpaulMad Dog_2ChrisJ
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,114
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    This is true and when I see a leak like Matt I usually pull apart and check the previous solder joint to see if it was soldered properly . I know ,most guys I worked w are pretty lazy when cleaning there pipe and fitting this is usually why they developed leaks . Nothing beats cleaning a fitting properly and also a quick sand cloth on the outside edge for a perfect wedding ring as it was called when every one only soldered . On another note some leaks are caused by no slack or expansion of the piping was given any thought espically on pipe ran through drilled holes and long straight runs w zero offsets for expansion . Just when most thought they knew it all the reasoning of cause and effect comes into play . This is why there are those who just run pipe and connect and those who really think it out and understand just a little bit more then the average bear yogi ok booboo
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
    realliveplumber
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    For some reason, people are all to happy to talk about failed pex/sharkbite/braid failures, but turn a blind eye to the ways that sweat joints can fail or be incorrectly performed. I don't know if there is any hard data out there about the failure rates at time of install and/or over time but I'd love to see it.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Mad Dog_2ChrisJ
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,041
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    @ethicalpaul. Valid question but I highly doubt there's any real data out there. One thing we know for sure is that soldered joints have been around for a long time and have held up pretty well to the test of time. But certainly not perfect and certainly far from infallible. But truth be told is that galvanized pipe held up pretty well also. I still see plenty of old homes with galvanized pipe. Obviously I will never consider installing galvanized water pipes, even though I still have some in my own home. And the one thing with soldering. Today's fittings are not the same, today's solder is not the same and today's flux is not the same. Just throwing out some thoughts for the sake of being devil's advocate (listen, the poor devil needs someone to advocate for him).
    Mad Dog_2ethicalpaul
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,041
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    I really think that it is okay to question and question. No one should take that as demeaning in any way, shape or form. Always good to have an open mind. Aas long as things are done respectfully. After all, is that what this Wall is all about?!?!
    Mad Dog_2CLamb
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
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      We always wipe our warm soldered joints with a rag and then give them a rub down with a slightly abrasive red scuff pad.
    STEAM DOCTORMad Dog_2MikeAmann
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
    edited July 2023
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    Some of my helpers joints. He is a quick study & has a bright future.
    Mad Dog_2STEAM DOCTORMikeAmannethicalpaul
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    You're breaking him in right Mike, gives me hope for the future.  How old is the Lad? Where'd you get him from?  Curious how yiu landed  a Keeper    Mad Dog 🐕 
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    edited July 2023
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    Realiveplumber...I very respectfully semi-agree.  I've never seen the "green creep" from a Pinhole leak, spread all over the pipe as it did here.  If any part of those joints had a drip, at ANY POINT on the face of a clock ⏰,  (1pm...4pm et al) the path of "green" and The Oyster-like white crust, I've never seen them spread vertically, horizontally like that. I really think it was cause and effect not the other way around.  Chicken 🐔 or the egg 🥚...??  I did save the piece and when time allows we'll conduct a forensic post-mortem. Also, can you agree that leaving Flux on a copper pipe WILL turn  it green and corrode it sans a leak? 

    Man oh man, Paul...Didn't mean to strike such a raw nerve with you guys...really.  My  intention was to provide an example of what damage I have personally seen from a particular product. Remember growing up:
    "Learning from one's own mistakes is a very good lesson..(Tuition!) .Learning from SOMEONE else's mistakes BEFORE you do  (FREE TUITION!!!) , is Golden."  

    I Just hoped to save the folks out there some huge headaches and costs, and no...I don't own stock in CP Speedies...or Taramet Solder...Last, Au contrare!!! Paul...I HIGHLIGHTED and showcased what happens when proper procedures are not followed with my "Old School," materials.  I
    Focused 20/20 Eyesight on it...not a "Blind eye."  Peace ✌ ☮ 🕊 Happy Birthday 🎂 🥳 🎉 🎈 🎁 🎊 America 🇺🇸 and All!  Mad dog 
    STEAM DOCTOR
  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    Yes sir, absolutely. In my experience it has been a slimy, smooth green akin to that "patina" that people talk about. I completely agree with you that every joint should be wiped clean. We solder way more than we press, and rarely use pex for potable water. Much like you, we care about quality and tried and true methods.

    It would be interesting to see that joint disassembled and the presence, or lack of solder. I've taken a few apart over the years, and typically see the path that solder didn't seal.

    Clammy had a great point about the expansion factor.

    I will add it takes a real gentleman to be able to engage in a conversation and have an open mind while doing it. Thank you.


    MikeAmannMad Dog_2CLambSuperTech
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
    edited July 2023
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    Mad Dog_2 said:
    You're breaking him in right Mike, gives me hope for the future.  How old is the Lad? Where'd you get him from?  Curious how yiu landed  a Keeper    Mad Dog 🐕 
       He's not a lad anymore, been with me for over 15 years. We met when I was dating his stepmom and he was living in her basement apartment. 
        I noticed that he wasn't going to work everyday as a carpenter so I took him with me one morning & he immediately enjoyed the variety of my work life.
        We've been focusing on bathroom remodeling these past 10 years or so. His natural mechanical aptitude and constant striving for precision & accuracy makes him really special; that, & his tremendous patience with me & my idiosyncratic behaviors.
       
    Mad Dog_2Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • MikeL_2
    MikeL_2 Member Posts: 506
    edited July 2023
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    Our latest project preping  for tile....
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,839
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    I don't know. I haven't soldered a ton of no lead stuff but what I have soldered has been ok haven't had an issue.

    I don't solder anything that is not clean. I buy fitting brushes and cut the handle off and chuck it in a cordless drill and clean all my fitting for what I am doing at the same time. That way you can keep moving without having to stop and clean. Open mesh sand cloth for the tubing.

    It's true I go through a lot of brushes. I run them clockwise and when they start to ware down, I run them counterclockwise and after that there done.
    MikeAmannMad Dog_2Alan (California Radiant) ForbesLarry Weingarten
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,795
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    No nerves are raw, Matt.

    I do think it’s interesting though, check this out: you posted a picture of a failed (or sabotaged or something we don’t know) braid and present that as evidence that all braided connections are bad.

    then you posted a picture of a failed (or failing) copper connection and present that as evidence that one installer didn’t do it right. 

    I find that difference interesting is all.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Mad Dog_2
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,041
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    This sort of reminds me of the one season, that I had the great misfortune of being my son's  little League Coach. If your kid struck out, the ump was as blind as a bat and the other team was cheating. If your kid was the pitcher, then he had talent that has not been seen since Sandy Koufax. We all have our emotional biases. For what it's worth, I think I was the only coach who was ecstatic when my team was eliminated. I just wish that the commissioner had suspended me long before game one!!!!!
    Mad Dog_2CLamb
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,956
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    This is an issue I see all the time and have deduced that the cause is often simply too much tinning flux, resulting in a poor joint. The pinhole leak is what caused the crusty buildup, but the extra unwiped flux is what allowed it to spread. Just last week I serviced a system that was originally installed in 1994 by the homeowner and every single joint was green and slimy, but had none of the crust (meaning no pinhole leak). I sweat in a new valve for purging and he was questioning my thin layer of flux, but then admiring my shiny joint after I wiped it so we got talking about the differences in flux and proper practices, etc. He had used an Oatey tinning flux and 50/50 Oatey solder (still had them in his cabinet) while I use Nokorode flux and lead free Bridgit solder.
    hot_rodMikeL_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
    edited July 2023
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    I used tinning Flux once...For rhetorical debate only NOT an argument.....

    1) If a pinhole leak in a solder joint, either starts as a very slow drip,  or even spritzes out in a thin stream, its going to make the 1/2" sheetrock below it mushy in say a month...Ill give you 2 months.  

    2) Even if the pinhole leak is at 12 O Clock, and spritzes across the pipe horizontally, its going to take Much longer to cause all that exposed copper to go thick, dark green h crusty  like that.  Even if both 1/2" joints facing eachother spritz out, increasing Volume of water leak,  I don't see that going THAT long to make that kind of corrosion, without ruining the ceiling below it.  

    3) Can we all agree that leaving Flux on copper tubing/pipe, over time,, WILL cause corrosion as we see here?  That is my main
    Question.   

    4) What IS up for debate is which way did  the corrossion path take?  From inside out? Or outside in?  I'm not a metallurgist or Chemist..Is there a Doctor in the house to Weigh in here?  Mad Dog 🐕 




  • realliveplumber
    realliveplumber Member Posts: 354
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    I believe that the type of corrosion that you posted a picture of in the o.p. Is caused by moisture which evaporates off of the pipe and leaves the white crusty deposit behind.

    I agree that if it was a pinhole leak, there would be wet sheetrock, or water visible on the floor under it.

    I think it is caused be a joint that "weeps" for lack of a better word. The leak is small enough to keep that area wet, but not large enough to accumulate and drip. I surmise that the water evaporates and leaves that white deposit behind. .

    I also occasionally see the same circumstance on water heater with f.i.p. Adaptors on to the steel die electric male nipples.

    I work in Houses that are 100+ years old, Im sure Mad dog does as well. Those crusty joints are not commonplace. We cut out plenty of copper with flux all over it that is 50+ years old, and the joints are smooth green patina under the flux, not crusty .

    Why dont you melt that joint apart, and lets see if the cup is full of solder . I would think it was not, and you will see a leak path.
    Larry WeingartenMad Dog_2DJD775GroundUp
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    It's on the list of ..."Things I really don't have time to play with now...other priorities.  I won't throw it out.  I will go on a shelf in the barn.  Pleasant discussion with you....Mad Dog 🐕 

    realliveplumber
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,839
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    @Mad Dog_2

    I have herd of cases with the cw lines develop pinholes from too much flux where the hw lines do not because the hw washes away the flux on the inside.

    I use Nokrode either regular or tinning. I have seen joints I did with "Utility "flux turns to powder. I like "silvabrite solder" but their are others just as good hate 95/5.


    Unsoldered some old 50/50 joints to scrap some copper......It's amazing how little heat you need on that stuff you forget after working with the newer stuff.

    So on new pipe and fittings I no longer put any flux inside just on the tube and not much at that. When soldering to an old fitting I will flux the inside as well
    Mad Dog_2SuperTech
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,245
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    Yes..I love Taramet Sterling, Silvabrite and Wolverine Brass..Harris is very good.  When I started in mid 1980s, we had 95/5 but irs capping ability stunk!  So, we capped with 50/50.  I love working with 50/50 Bar Solder on copper flashing, pans cetera.   We even leaning "Lead Burning" (Welding) in Apprentice school with TINY butane torches.  We did entire X Ray rooms in NYC 🏥 Hospitals..So glad I was able to see all these amazing techniques and materials and the craftsman that worked their magic!  Pyrex glass acid waste...cool...Mad Dog 🐕 
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,476
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    The older non water soluble flux would run down inside the copper tube and right where that bubble stopped you could get a pin hole.  

    The water soluble flus common nowadays eliminates that point.

    Over-fluxing is mostly the cause. The new flux cleans up easily with a wet rag. 
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,919
    edited July 2023
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    I used tinning Flux once...For rhetorical debate only NOT an argument.....

    1) If a pinhole leak in a solder joint, either starts as a very slow drip,  or even spritzes out in a thin stream, its going to make the 1/2" sheetrock below it mushy in say a month...Ill give you 2 months.  

    2) Even if the pinhole leak is at 12 O Clock, and spritzes across the pipe horizontally, its going to take Much longer to cause all that exposed copper to go thick, dark green h crusty  like that.  Even if both 1/2" joints facing eachother spritz out, increasing Volume of water leak,  I don't see that going THAT long to make that kind of corrosion, without ruining the ceiling below it.  

    3) Can we all agree that leaving Flux on copper tubing/pipe, over time,, WILL cause corrosion as we see here?  That is my main
    Question.   

    4) What IS up for debate is which way did  the corrossion path take?  From inside out? Or outside in?  I'm not a metallurgist or Chemist..Is there a Doctor in the house to Weigh in here?  Mad Dog 🐕 





    I have seen joints leak that were so slow it evaporated before the pipe was even wet, just building up minerals. And the leak stayed this slow for a very long time.

    I've seen this quite a few times, actually.


    I've also seen a small leak erode a pipe via wire drawing in a matter of months and become a huge problem.
    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
    MikeAmann