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Old 05-02-2008, 05:44 AM  
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Default shower plumbing / soldering problems

i have a problem with the pipe that travels up from my bathtub diverter to the shower head. there is a spot where the solder broke and is leaking whenever i turn the shower head on.

my question is: how tight should pipe fittings be when they are soldered together? i had a friend solder the pipe for me (who's experienced with this), but as soon as I tried to tighten the diverter back down, the solder cracked where he just applied it. is there a cure time for this? we only waited a few minutes, but it was cool to the touch.

he seems to think that the fitting is too loose on the pipe...that there is too much "play," but the fitting seems to have worked before (i just bought the house and am just replacing the diverter). how much "play" is normal? how tight should the fittings fit together? should you be able to rotate the pipe once it's fit together? (we can rotate it pretty easily and also it rocks from side to side a little).

i really appreciate any help/tips that anyone can give me for this. thanks.


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Old 05-02-2008, 06:48 AM  
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The pipe and fitting should be snug when placed together. You should be able to turn it, but it should not "wobble" in the fitting. Even a loose fit should be able to be soldered and not break when turned with a wrench though. Sounds like the solder is not going into the joint but just pooling at the top of the fitting.

if you have never made a mistake, you probably haven't done much.
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Old 05-02-2008, 01:41 PM  
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Hello Christian:
I would recommend using a stronger solder in the joint. The silver-bearing solders can be used right over the old and will make a much stronger joint.

I would not tighten the diverter with a wrench; just use teflon tape and hand tighten it with both hands on it so you don't shift it side to side or up and down.
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Old 05-02-2008, 02:25 PM  
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i wasn't actually using a wrench on the diverter; i only tightened with my hand.

if it is the case and the solder is just pooling up at the top of the fitting, can anyone give any tips on why it isn't being drawn in? we're using a lot of flux and a prop torch. we're never actually seeing the flux "smoke" as we're supposed to (or so i've read).

i appreciate the help everyone. this is so frustrating!

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Old 05-02-2008, 05:31 PM  
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Default Hmmm

You need a hotter torch mabey...try a Mappgass bottle and the quick light trigger. They sell them in a combined unit. The Mappgass will not work with the propane fitting.

They are available at the big box stores or your local plumbing supply house.
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Old 05-02-2008, 06:25 PM  
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ok.. so here is my 2 cents worth... I finally got the hang of this the other day..... you MUST clean both pieces with sandpaper.... then apply flux inside and out of the two joints.... then you must heat the pipe with the TIP of the blue flame... you will hear the flux sizzle... (if you are using a benzomatic... it says 7-10 seconds for heat then touch solder, this isnt long enough)... once the pipe is hot enough.. and it will change color to a somewhat darker worn looking cooper you can then touch the solder to the pipe... if it doesnt immediately spread around it.... the pipe isnt hot enough... you will know that it has completely sealed when you either see or hear a drop of solder fall from the bottom of the joint you are soldering ( I put a little bowl of water under where I was ..... for two reason... in case of a small fire... and so that the extra solder had somewhere to go besides my brand new vinyl I just laid)..... It takes practice... just be patient... my first joint was slow... second a little faster and third was instant!!!!!!!! Also... I would wait a few minutes to let the copper cool before I tried to twist anything attatched to it.

Hooray... I finally get to help with something...... (ps... there are pics of my joint on my 'what happened to my kitchen' thread)

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