How to Solder Vertical Copper Tubing

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Soldering is the most common method used to joint copper tubing and fittings. The same technique is used on all sizes of copper tubing. The only difference is the amount of time it take to heat the fittings. Soldering copper tubing is done between the temperatures of 350 to 600 degrees. The most important step is to properly clean and apply the flux to the joints. If this is not done correctly, you will not have a good seal. Soldering can be done in a horizontal or vertical direction. If all the steps are completed correctly, the metal filler will suck into the joint, even in a vertical direction.

Things You'll Need

  • Copper tubing
  • Copper fitting
  • Tubing cutter
  • Sanding cloth
  • Fitting brush
  • Flux
  • Flux brush
  • Tubing hangers or straps
  • Propane torch
  • Solder
  • Wet cloth
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Gloves
  • Place the tube cutter with the spinning blade at the point on the copper tubing where it must be cut. Tighten the tube cutter and spin it around the copper tubing; continue to tighten the tube cutter as you spin it, until it cuts through the tubing.

  • Clean the end of the copper tubing with the sanding cloth. Twist the sanding cloth around the end of copper tubing, it will be shiny when it is clean. Clean the inside of the fitting with a fitting brush. Twist the fitting brush around inside of the fitting.

  • Apply a thin coat of flux to the end of the tubing and inside the fitting, using a flux brush. Push the end of the copper tubing into the fitting as far as it will go. Twist the tubing inside the fitting to ensure an even coverage of flux. Wipe the tubing and fitting to remove excess flux.

  • Install either tubing hangers or straps, depending on the copper tubing installation. If the tubing runs along floor joists or wall studs use tubing straps, which go over the tubing and are screwed onto both sides of the tubing. If the tubing hangs down away from the floor joists, use tubing hangers, which are installed similarly to the straps, except the hanger will support the tubing away from the floor joists.

  • Apply heat to the fitting with a propane torch. Propane tends to not overheat the copper. Move the torch around to evenly heat the fitting.

  • Test if the fitting is hot enough by touch the end of the solder to the end of the fitting. When the copper fitting is hot enough the solder will suck up into the vertical joint. Remove the propane torch as the solder fills the joint. The solder will drip down when the joint is filled.

  • Wipe down the joint with a wet cloth to cool and clean the joint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have a fire extinguisher close by when you are using a propane torch for soldering.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from the heat.

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References

  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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