Soldering copper pipes just takes a little ‘sweat’ equity

Q: I want to install a soft-water conditioner in my house. My garage is preplumbed with a copper loop and I’m pretty good with home repairs, but the thought of soldering my copper pipes has me scared. Can you convince me to attempt this?

A: I’m not going to try to convince you to solder, but I will give you some clues to build your confidence, and it really isn’t that hard. It is a process.

You’ll need some basics for the job: a torch, solder, flux (an acidic paste that etches the copper) and emery cloth. You can purchase a kit, which includes these items for about $40. You also will need a tube cutter (about $10) and possibly a flame protector cloth (about $15).

The first thing to do is cut the copper pipe with the tube cutter. This looks like a C-clamp with a round blade in it. Fit the cutter around the pipe and slightly tighten the blade. Rotate it around the pipe a few times and tighten it gradually. Don’t tighten it too fast or you may dent the pipe and have to start over.

Once you cut the pipe free, the cut will look very clean, but you will have to remove the small burrs inside the pipe. You can do this with the reaming attachment on the tubing cutter. Next, you will need to clean the mating surfaces of the tubing and the fittings. Clean, well-prepared surfaces are the key to a solid leak-free joint.

Clean the copper pipe and fittings with 120-grit emery cloth. This will give the copper a shiny appearance. Be careful not to touch the copper with your fingers once it has been cleaned because oils can disrupt the flow of the solder.

Brush an even layer of flux over the ends of the pipe and the insides of the fittings. Then, push the joint together until the pipe seats completely into the fitting. Wipe off any excess flux, and grab the torch.

I prefer to clean, flux and assemble the entire run of copper, and then solder all of the joints at one time.

Fire up the torch and adjust the flame until the blue cone is about 1½ inches long. With the torch in one hand and the solder in the other, place the tip of the flame near the end of the fitting. Hold the solder against the joint, on the other side of the fitting (directly opposite of the flame), where the pipe meets the fitting. This will ensure that the entire joint is hot enough to melt the solder. When the temperature of the copper reaches the melting point of the solder, the solder will melt and flow into the joint. Fill the joint until solder drips out and then move to the next joint. The solder hardens as it cools. Remember to keep a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby just in case.

Sweating copper will make you feel accomplished. Just imagine, fire in one hand and melting solder in the other. You’ll have the respect of every kid in the neighborhood.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by email to: Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by email to: Or, mail to: P.O. Box 96761, Las Vegas, NV 89193. His Web address is:

Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home and Garden Video
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like