Homeowner Handyman Tips: How to Solder Copper PipeDo you know how to solder copper pipe? Is this something you have always wanted to do but were not sure if you could pull it off without proper training?

Believe it or not, soldering pipe is easier than you think if you follow directions closely. This will help you with many DIY tasks including sump pump installation. Use this guide to get started!

How to Solder Copper Pipe

Tools/Supplies:

  • Copper pipe & fittings
  • Deburring tool
  • Fire extinguisher & fire protection cloth
  • Fine steel wool, sandpaper, or 120-grit emery cloth
  • Flux brush
  • Lead-free soldering paste (or flux) 
  • Propane torch/regulator with built-in igniter
  • Rags
  • Safety glasses/goggles
  • Solder wire
  • Tube cutter
  • Wire brush
  • Work gloves

*Take these safety precautions seriously. Always wear protective gloves and safety glasses or goggles when soldering copper pipes and fittings. Have the fire extinguisher readily available at all times!

*If the pipe you are working on is in place, first drain any remaining water and dry completely before you begin the process.

Step 1: Cut the Pipes to Proper Length

  • Place the pipe between the guide wheel & cutting wheel of the tube cutter and clamp it. If the pipe is longer, tuck one end underneath your leg or knee for stability. 
  • Score the pipe all around by rotating the pipe cutter.
  • To achieve a deeper scoring line, score it a second time after tightening the cutter knob a ¼ turn.
  • Repeat Step 3. Continue for approximately 8 total turns until the pipe has snapped off.

Step 2: Clean & Flux the Fittings and Pipes

  • Ream the innards of the pipe using a wire brush or deburring tool. If not thoroughly deburred, the water will not flow properly.
  • Clean the outer part of the pipe with the steel wool, emery cloth, or sandpaper. Take care not to touch the pipe without gloves, as this can render the soldering useless.
  • While wearing gloves, as flux is acidic and can cause bodily injuries, to the final inch of the pipe, apply the flux in a thin layer. Do the same on each fitting on the inner part where the pipes and fittings will join.
  • Insert the pipe into the fitting. Make sure it reaches the total depth of the pipe fitting. Remove excess flux with a rag.

Step 3: Solder Fitting and Pipes

  • Use the fire protection cloth to cover those flammable surfaces in and around the area in which you are working.
  • After cutting it approximately eight to ten inches, at a 90° angle and at least 2 inches, bend the solder wire.
  • Use the built-in igniter on the propane torch to light it. The flame should be adjusted to around 1¼ inches.
  • Making sure it barely touches the fitting, hold the torch and move it back and forth for even heat distribution. There is no need for the torch to directly touch the pipe, as the heat from the fitting will suffice. As the metal is heating, you will hear a sizzling noise from the flux.
  • On the other side of the fitting (opposite the flame), at the joint, place the solder wire’s end. The wire will liquefy as it heats up, thus filling the joint. Continue this process until the solder is dripping out. Depending on the size of the pipe/fitting, approximately ½ to ¾ of the solder wire will be needed. Let it cool for around half a minute to forty-five seconds and then apply a bit of pressure before removing the excess solder.
  • Finally, install the pipe. Test if for leakage. If there are any leaks, carefully take it apart and repeat until the leak is fixed.

Any more questions on how to solder copper pipe? Give us a call at DrainCom! We can give you expert advice over the phone or send one of our skilled plumbers to do the job for you!