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3/4 Valve Won’t Solder

 
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:18 PM   #1
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3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


I was about to have a nervous breakdown last night. I had a brand new 3/4 ball valve I was installing on 3/4copper pipe. A shark bite fitting had been on the pipe. I pulled it off, sanded the pipe and fluxed it. I wire brushed the inside of the valve and applied flux. There was no water in the pipe. I solder it and turn on the water to find a leak.

I pulled it apart and repeated the process 3 times. It would not pull solder into the joint and hold it. The dry fit was nice and tight but kept getting pinhole leaks. I switched to water removable flux but got the same result

Finally I cut 2 inches off the pipe and heated up the valve separately by itself to make sure there was no water inside of it. I noticed that some steam was being trapped behind the ball inside of the valve but I really don’t think this was the problem because the valve was open and was not under pressure while i had been soldering it. I did everything exactly how I had done earlier and this time it worked.

I have no idea why this was happening. The only thing I can think of is that the shark bite fitting had scratched up the pipe? I had sanded it well and when I examined the piece after I cut it off, you could see extremely small grooves but I have soldered joints with way more problems than that before.

I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas? Also what does everyone like to use for flux. Do you prefer to use a lot so it drips out of the joint a little bit or do you use a tiny amount. I always thought more would be better but that leads to the pipe looking like crap after with burned flux on it.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:37 PM   #2
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Sounds like insufficient heat, even if the flux started bubbling.

Was the pipe vertical and was there any water in the pipe below the area you were soldering? If so, next time draw out more of the water or use a blast of compressed air.

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Old 05-13-2019, 12:39 PM   #3
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


It's actually touchy to get it hot enough with a propane torch. MAPP or acetylene is more forgiving. If the solder isn't being pulled in and it's clean and fluxed, it isn't hot enough.

Or all the flux got burned out and it started to oxidize again.

Just because you don't have a pinhole now doesn't mean it won't start leaking in a month.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:25 PM   #4
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Agreed; fair chance it took too long to get it hot with propane and the flux was gone by the time it got hot enough. Trying to re-do a joint like that, you have to be super anal and get the surfaces really really cleaned, or the attempt will likely fail. Easier to whack it back to fresh copper like you finally did.

I haven't used propane in years. MAPP for the win.

Oh, and I like lots of flux. Clean it off with a damp rag immediately after soldering, and the pipe will look spiffy.
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Old 05-13-2019, 01:44 PM   #5
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinstaafl View Post
Agreed; fair chance it took too long to get it hot with propane and the flux was gone by the time it got hot enough. Trying to re-do a joint like that, you have to be super anal and get the surfaces really really cleaned, or the attempt will likely fail. Easier to whack it back to fresh copper like you finally did.

I haven't used propane in years. MAPP for the win.

Oh, and I like lots of flux. Clean it off with a damp rag immediately after soldering, and the pipe will look spiffy.
I learned this the hard way, I experienced the same problem as the OP soldering a ball valve to 3/4" Type K with a propane blow torch. The answer was lots of flux and acetylene.

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Old 05-13-2019, 03:10 PM   #6
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


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Originally Posted by hdavis View Post
It's actually touchy to get it hot enough with a propane torch. MAPP or acetylene is more forgiving. If the solder isn't being pulled in and it's clean and fluxed, it isn't hot enough.

Or all the flux got burned out and it started to oxidize again.

Just because you don't have a pinhole now doesn't mean it won't start leaking in a month.
I solder 1" piping with propane with ease. Unless his particular torch wasn't producing enough heat. If it's enough to melt the solder it's enough for the flux to wick it into the joint.

Wipe it off with acetone. Might be oil on it.
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:37 PM   #7
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


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I solder 1" piping with propane with ease. Unless his particular torch wasn't producing enough heat. If it's enough to melt the solder it's enough for the flux to wick it into the joint.

Wipe it off with acetone. Might be oil on it.
Or silicone
wait, that's an oil too I guess

OP doesn't know how to solder, plain & simple
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Old 05-13-2019, 03:57 PM   #8
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


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I solder 1" piping with propane with ease. Unless his particular torch wasn't producing enough heat. If it's enough to melt the solder it's enough for the flux to wick it into the joint.

Wipe it off with acetone. Might be oil on it.
Me too. Ball valves just make it tricky because of the thermal mass and not wanting to overheat the valve.
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Old 05-13-2019, 04:05 PM   #9
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Plus you need to use a flux that won't burn off as easy. I've always used the old fashion flux paste that's a dark tan color. I've use C-Flux which is a higher heat flux designed more for the tin-antimony mix we use now. The older fluxes were best for the older lead based fluxes with a much lower melting point.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:19 PM   #10
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


I use Oatey #95 tinning flux. I tried that water based flux, and I felt like an idiot who had never soldered before. Never again.
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Old 05-13-2019, 07:59 PM   #11
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


The mapp gas you get now is not real mapp gas and doesn't burn much hotter than regular propane. Hold the torch flame directly on the fitting and use Oatley #5 flux. I've never had a problem
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:02 PM   #12
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


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The mapp gas you get now is not real mapp gas and doesn't burn much hotter than regular propane. Hold the torch flame directly on the fitting and use Oatley #5 flux. I've never had a problem
How can MAPP not be the real thing?

Edit: Now I see there are "MAPP substitutes".....I need to delve into this further.

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Old 05-13-2019, 08:14 PM   #13
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


I'm sure DHS had something to do with that.


Nope, company just went out of business because it wasn't making money.
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:20 PM   #14
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


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I did find out from Bernzomatic that the company that made MAPP gas has went out of business and nobody can make MAPP gas until the patent gets sold or it expires. The patent expires in 2020.

I also looked at the combustion temps with just air and it from what I could tell, MAPP gas has a combustion temp of 3650 and MAP/Pro has a combustion temp of 3600. So only a 50 deg difference between the two.
https://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread...-more-mapp-gas
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Old 05-13-2019, 08:29 PM   #15
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Too much flux is just causes more leaks than you might think.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:32 PM   #16
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


never had much problem with soldered joints. Threaded? different story.
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Old 05-13-2019, 10:37 PM   #17
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Lead free solder and fittings of today need more heat and are a different beast to solder...I use propylene gas with the 4000 or 8000 turbo tip, Silva Brite 100 and Nokorode flux. Heat until you see green, apply solder in a dose that matches the diameter of the pipe. Keep the materials clean and free of skin oils. Wipe the joint with a dry rag to knock off nibs. Allow to cool naturally and wipe away any flux residue. Even the best will get a failure/cold joint along the way.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:53 AM   #18
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


Any residual water in the pipe....use the ball valve with the drain port. The steam will have a place to go....reflux, reflux

More on this at Steve Lavamonaire on YT --- he does a lot of old work and uses them a lot

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Old 05-14-2019, 08:44 AM   #19
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


I recently swapped out General Ionics water conditioners at home , & had to re do 3/4" copper joints & valves. How you prepare can vary a lot, but to me the biggest issue is always remnant water/steam right when you reach solder melt temps. Sometimes you can bend/slope pipe to drain out at joint. Once that is done, I like to heat up pipe away from joint & work toward open end to steam out droplets of water. Once all is dry, it gets much easier and predictable.
When soldering joint, apply flux to freshly sanded areas. The next step isn't one I've heard of before, but it just makes sense to me. I like to heat pipes away from fitting 1st, maybe 6" or so, & work back toward valve. When it's time to heat valve, the valve will reach melt temp faster, & more uniformly. Less time with heat on flux, is less likely to overheat flux which can cause flux failure.
I've always used acetylene.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:48 AM   #20
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Re: 3/4 Valve Won’t Solder


I've had many situations where old pipe just would not solder. I've had to do what you did, and just cut it out, or use a sharkbite.

I soldered successfully with propane for a short time, until I switched to MAPP gas 20 years ago. Soldering something with a lot of mass, like a ball valve, is going to be difficult with propane.

And please don't use a wet rag to wipe a joint after soldering. You'll get a nasty burn. Use a dry one.

And yes, excess flux should be wiped up. It's actually a corrosive product, and should not be left on the pipe.

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