Copper plumbing long has been a standard in home construction. Anyone who has a home with copper pipes should have an understanding of how to make repairs in the case of a leak or if modifications need to be made. “Sweating pipes” is one term homeowners may hear when maintaining their pipes.

sweating pipe

Sweating a pipe refers to soldering a pipe or the joint. Sweating seals a new joint or mends a fault. When sweating a pipe, it is important to do the job correctly so that a soldered pipe can last for years and years.

“It’s important for homeowners to know some plumbing basics for quick fixes and to identify problems before they get out of hand,” says Zach H. of Superior Plumbing in Canandaigua NY. “But even advanced do-it-yourself plumbers can make critical mistakes that can prove costly down the road if they are not careful.”

PlanItDIY, a source for how-to advice, says that sweating pipes involves some key steps.

  • Cut the pipes to the right length using a copper tube cutter or hacksaw.
  • Use a file or wire brush to remove burs and smooth down the ends.
  • Clean the end of the copper pipe with a cleaning brush until the surface is bright all around. In addition, clean the inside of all fittings.

“It’s so important to make sure pipes are properly fitted and that all connections are properly sealed,” says Mike Z. of Superior Plumbing. “Even a tiny leak can lead to costly home repairs from the second floor of a home all the way to the basement if not caught in time.”

  • Brush plumbing flux on the brushed surfaces and assemble the joint. The how-to resource Hunker says flux is an acidic paste applied to all of the pieces of copper that you want to connect together. The flux paste will draw in the solder after the pipe is heated using a blow torch. The acid in the flux attracts the solder into the seam between the two copper pieces and fills the gap while creating a semi-permanent bond between the pieces.
  • To create the seal, move the flame around the joint to heat it evenly. The copper will get shiny, and the flux will melt. When the pipe begins to dull and the flux sizzles and smokes, it is time to apply solder. Touch lead-free plumbing solder to the joint and apply more heat.
  • The sweating process is finished when the solder bubbles out of the end of the seam. Let cool and the joint should now be water-tight.

Again, this method has been proved for years. And now, with proper fittings, things are more advanced and faster (as shown).

Sweating pipes gets easier with practice, but nothing can replace the expertise of a plumbing contractor like Superior Plumbing in Canandaigua.

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