How To Solder A Broken Copper Water Pipe

Spring is the time when people return to their cottages to start opening them up for another year, and it is also the time when cottage owners find out what went wrong over the winter. A common problem that occurs during the winter is that the small copper water pipes burst. If any water was accidentally trapped in the pipes when you closed the cottage in the fall, that water can turn into ice, and the force of the ice can cause pipes to burst. Repairing a small pipe is something most cottage owners can do themselves. If you have a burst copper pipe that you want to fix yourself, here is how you can do it.

You Will Need:

  • Extra Copper Piping
  • Copper Couplers
  • Propane Torch
  • Solder
  • Flux
  • Flame Protector Cloth
  • Pipe Cutter
  • Reaming Tool
  • Wire Brush
  • Emery Cloth

Cut Out Damaged Section

You need to remove the damaged section of pipe by cutting it out with a pipe cutter. A pipe cutter is a small tool that fits over the pipe. On one side of the tool is a blade that gets screwed down onto the pipe. Screw the blade down until it stops – do not force the blade into the pipe. Spin the tool around the pipe to create a groove in the pipe. Screw the blade down a little more and then spin the cutter around the pipe again. Keep on doing this until the pipe breaks open.

Preparing Pipes for Solder

Cut a piece of copper pipe long enough to fit in the opening vacated by the burst piece. Use a reaming tool that fits inside of the pipe. The reaming tool is used to remove the burrs caused by the pipe cutter. Stick the reamer into each end you cut on the pipes (the new piece and the old pieces still in place on the water system) and twist it around to remove the burrs. You should use a round hard-wire brush that fits inside the pipe to clean out the ends. Stick the wire brush into the pipe and twist it around a few times to clean the inside of the pipes.

You also need to clean the ends on the outside of the pipe pieces. Take an emery cloth and rub it around the outside ends of the pieces of pipe. You only need to clean the ends that will fit into the couplers and not the whole piece of pipe.

You now need to brush flux onto the end of the pipes before you put on the couplers. Flux is material that will help the solder melt and flow into the seams around the couplers and the copper pipes. Coat the very end of the pipes with the flux.

Soldering Coupler to Pipes

Put the couplers on the ends old pipes and fit the new piece of pipe into the gap. Slide the coupler over so half of it is on the new piece of pipe and the other half is on the existing copper piping. Place the flame resistant cloth over any wood or other objects that could catch fire while you are heating the solder with the propane torch.

Heat the seam between the coupler and pipe. You want to slowly move the torch back and forth so you don't overheat the seam. Place the solder against the seam once it gets hot. You want to keep on applying heat while the solder melts. The solder will flow into the seam (thanks to the flux material) and seal it. Repeat this process on all the seams where the couplers and pipes meet.

Wait until the solder and pipes cool down before turning on the water to the cottage.

If this process sounds too complicated to do on your own, call a plumbing services specialist to help you out.