Soldering Tips for Mid-winter Breaks
A recent blackout had me reaching for a propane torch, and it wasn’t for warmth.
What I learned this past weekend is that you shouldn’t assume that a power outage is a short one. While you can bet the folks at your local utility are scrambling to get the power back, don’t let optimism guide your (in)action, especially when it’s -25°C outside. I should have set all of the taps running at a steady trickle to prevent the pipes from freezing. However, when I got around to it, a pipe to one of my bathrooms was already frozen
It took 24 hours for the power to come on, and then another 12 for the crack to reveal itself. Then out came the solder and torches.
For a solid primer/refresher on soldering pipe, check out our Essential Plumber’s Tool Kit. But, if you need the short, short version–maybe you have a fix to make right now–here are the main points:
- don’t skimp when you’re cleaning the pipe
- heat the joint not the pipe (the solder will seal the connection better)
- if you still have a trickle of water out one of your pipes, even after shutting off the water, a bit of bread will dam things up temporarily
Also, I must add that the Bernzomatic Powercell I had was very handy. It allowed me to get into a space too small for my regular propane torch.
Do you have any tips or tricks for soldering copper pipe? Let us know in the comments section.