How to Solder (Sweat) Copper Pipes
DIY Difficulty (1 easy-10 difficult) 6
Time to completion: 4 hours
Material cost: $ 35
Labor and misc. parts $ 275-350
TOTAL $ ~375*
* Prices may vary in your area. As of 2/12
Home>Repair a frozen pipe
Housecalls Home Services assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result
improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or
questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should
check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always
read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all
accepted safety procedures.
This house was a foreclosure and recently purchased by our
customers. When they went to turn on the shower they heard
streams of water hissing out of the pipe.
This type of copper pipe repair had to be approached from
the room adjacent to the shower. To make the repair is just
a matter of finding the studs and cutting out a piece of
drywall. The hole can be made with a drywall cutting saw.
In this example I will re-use the same piece of drywall. A close-up view of the water ,line shows the severity of the rupture in the
copper line. If this pipe had been under pressure from water the damage to the home could have been enormous. This rupture
occurred despite the fact the house and copper lines were drained--except some one forgot to open the shower valve to allow for
the residual water in the shower arm to drain down through to the basement.
Remove the damaged area. The space in the wall is not adequate to
allow for a typical copper pipe cutting tool. The smaller version
allows for smaller spaces. These small copper pipe cutting tools
are available at any plumbing supply or auto supply dealer. This tool
can be used on any metal pipe, including brake lines.
It is a mistake to try to cut the copper pipe with a hack saw blade or
a metal cutting grinder or any tool other than a pipe cutter. The use of
these other tools makes the cut rough instead of a smooth, rounded
cut that is needed to sweat the copper pipe properly.
These small pipe cutting tools have a dial knob that is slightly
rotated to tighten the blade against the pipe. The tool is then turned
or rotated around the pipe thereby making an indentation to the pipe.
A few times around the circumference of the copper pipe is all that is
needed to sever the pipe. Then the ends to be soldered (sweating)
are cleaned with emery cloth, sandpaper, steel wool or a copper
pipe cleaning tool available from the plumbing supply store.
The copper pipe can be repaired with 1/2" copper couplings.
There are basically two types of 1/2" copper couplings --those
that are 'slip' coupling with out stops, and the ones that have
'stops.' In this example the pipes to be reconnected did not have
any movement to allow for a no-slip coupling. A slip coupling can
be placed on the pipe and slipped down over the new piece of
In using a slip coupling it is ideal to allow for the coupling to be
placed over the joint as close to the center of the coupling. If you
are unsure use a felt tip and mark the copper pipe as a guide.
The area of the pipe to be soldered, or "sweated" as it is called,
must be clean and smooth. There are many abrasive tools
available including steel wool, emery cloth, or even sandpaper.
Once cleaned the pipe is treated to an application of solder
paste, sometimes referred to as flux. The paste allows for the
solder to properly flow to assure a good, leak proof joint.
When sweating pipes the key is to make sure there is no water
in the area of the repair. Water acts as a coolant and prevents
the pipe from heating up properly. Before attempting any
sweating (soldering) of copper pipes the removal of water is
essential. Many a frustrated handyman has suffered an improper
solder joint due to a trickling of water.
A Bernzomatic hand held torch is needed to solder (sweat) the
Once the copper couplings are properly installed the sweating
(soldering) can begin. The torch is lit and a medium volume flame
is all the heat needed to sweat the pipe. Do not overheat the pipe
with a massive flame. Use only enough heat to melt the copper.
The heat is applied to the center of the coupling, the solder
applied to the pipe, not directly to the flame. The idea is to heat the
pipe to allow the solder to flow towards the heat. This is the proper
way to sweat a copper pipe.
Before closing the wall you want to test your pipe for you can place
the drywall back in the opening.
The only requirement is for some sort of backing to re-attach the
drywall. In this case I used a few pieces of scrap plywood.
There are many types of joint tape, the type used here is the
mesh. Joint compound is available ready to go out of the bucket,
such as topping compound, or any ready mix product. Then there
In any application it is important to have the proper consistency
when applying to the wall. If the mix is too dry it will not feather and
is difficult to spread. If it is too wet it can run down the wall or is
just too loose and sloppy to make it work. In general the mix
should be slightly thicker than a cake or pancake batter. The
material should be able to stick to a blade (joint tool) and not lose
Most small repairs will require a series of applications. The first
coat is applied with a 4" Spackle blade. All you want to
accomplish on the first coat is to embed the tape. It is not a good
idea to try to complete the job with one fat coat and sand your way out of it. In fact, many pros are pretty good and can darn near
complete the job without sanding. Allow to dry before applying the next coat.
For the second coat a wider blade is used, say a 6" or 7". The mud is applied on both sides of the centerline of each joint, thereby
creating a plaster area double of the width of the first coat.
After the plaster dries sand the area with a 120 sanding screen before applying the final coat. The last coat can be applied with a 10"
or 12" blade. Allow to dry and lightly sand.
Housecalls Home Services copyright 2012-13
Ask the Handyman: How to sweat, solder copper pipes and tubing. Sweating and soldering copper pipes
"Sweating copper pipe. Where does the term 'sweating ' come from? Is it just another way of saying soldering? The term soldering I think is
more synonymous with a soldering gun, and perhaps the term 'sweating' is how the plumbers define their craft. Maybe it is what the plumber
is feeling when he worries if his soldered pipe will hold, as if he is 'sweating the outcome.' I don't know. What I do know is how to sweat
copper pipes. It is one of the first tasks I learned when my brother-law took me on in his plumbing business. Sweating copper pipes and
plumbing in general is a good craft to learn and can be a very lucrative career."
Reciprocating Saw From $29.00 up
Copper Tubing Cutter From $4.99
Copper Tubing Mini-Cutter From $4.99
Angled Pipe Wrench from $4.99
4 in 1 Plumbers Brush from $1.79
Plumber Solder from $2.79
Propane Torch with Three Burners
|PLUMBING TOOLS FOR COPPER PIPE
|Handyman Home Improvement Remodeling Service Areas of Ohio: Counties of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Medina, Portage, and Summit.
Cities include Akron, Auburn, Aurora, Bainbridge, Bath, Beachwood, Bedford, Brady Lake, Brimfield, Broadview Heights, Brunswick,
Canton, Chagrin Falls, Cleveland Heights, Copley, Cuyahoga Falls, Doylestown, Ellet, Fairlawn, Garrettsville, Gates Mills, Green, Hiram,
Hudson, Hunting Valley, Jackson Twp., Kent, Lakemore, Macedonia, Mantua, Massilon, Mayfield Hts., Medina, Moreland Hills, Newbury,
Norton, Orange, Peninsula, Pepper Pike, Portage Lakes, Ravenna, Reminderville, Shaker Heights, Silver Lake, Solon, South Euclid,
Springfield Twp., Stow, Strongsville, Streetsboro, Tallmadge, Twinsburg