Reply by Mary Anne

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Posted on Copper pipe question

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3355 days

#1 posted 08-25-2010 05:33 AM

Third generation union plumber (retired) here…
I always wiped my joints with a DRY rag while the solder was still soft. It makes a better joint and a better looking joint. You wouldn’t want to immediately wipe a freshly sweated joint with a WET rag. That could mess up the joint, not to mention create a very hot steam that could burn you. It only takes a few seconds, however, for the solder to “set” and the heat to dissipate along the length of the pipe. It would do no harm at all to dunk it or cool it with water after waiting just a few seconds.

As far as spraying the stud with water before he put flame to the pipe, that’s a decent precaution to take to prevent charing the wood or starting a fire. Nothing wrong with that at all.

FWIW, 50/50 solder was banned in California in the late 70’s. This leads to another thought on why your plumber was dunking/spraying the joints. I believe 95/5 (95% tin, 5% antimony) is still the current standard in California. It takes quite a bit of heat to get 95/5 to flow properly. If the pipe gets too hot (glowing red), it is annealed—made softer—and a quick quenching in cold water will harden it again. Although this practice is more common when brazing, it might be something of what he was thinking/doing.

P.S. If there are no leaks on the joints now, chances are extremely slim that one will develop. No, you shouldn’t be worried.

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