13 Nov 2006
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United Kingdom
Hello all,

I am a SE Chippy and do a lot of kitchen installations. More often than not I sub out the sink connection and any plumbing works. There are two reasons for this, I haven'tlearnt soldering so I tend to use compression fittings and because i don't particularly like plumbing. Soooo, I have decided tthat I want to learn soldering, wwhat I would like to ask you proffs is about the products, I.e Flux, lead free solder etc, there seems to be a lot of different flux's at varying prices.

As with my trade I use the best products available but this is a field of products I know zilch about. May someone take the time to tell me exactly what I need, so I can teach myself. Thank you in advance.

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If you use solder ring fittings you don't need much skill but you do have to clean the areas of contact well with wire wool. These days I mostly use plastic push fit pipework as that is very quick and easy. With kitchens I would say the waste side has more potential for problems than the water supply. You can often find some useful advice on particular techniques on Youtube.
Collect a bunch of used Cu. pipe and fittings, and construct a small timber frame for yourself. Clip the Cu rig to the studs - or thread it through them.

Back one side of the frame with plaster board - this will teach you to work safe and not go flaming the surrounds. Use mats and learn to use your bottle upside down. Learn to have an extinguisher handy.

Gradually you will recognise different sizes of old Imperial and newer Metric Cu.

Now, practice taking apart the old fittings from the pipework. Clean them up - and then practice putting it back together again using the old fittings. Be imaginative.

Now copper cap the open pipes or run to tap connectors, and pressure test for leaks.

Using the old copper will speed the learning curve, later mix with new end feed fittings.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube with good tips and advice.
Lead free solder for potable water.
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Biggest mistake people make is too much heat too much solder and too much flux.

Light smear on the pipe before putting it in the fitting, then wipe off with a dry cloth.

Heat the fitting evenly, then a small length of solder.

Remove heat then LIGHTLY use the flux brush to set the solder in the edge of the fitting.

Then use the dry cloth again to wipe off the joint.

Solder will go wherever there is flux left on the pipe and fitting.
Don't forget though does your insurance cover you for water damage, if you start doing plumbing work you will need to make sure your insurance covers you.
What about about restoring earth bonding if plastic is used? Especially when clamping steel sinks back to copper regardless of the DHW CW supplies to taps etc. If aleterations are run on in push fit? Or is this the sparkies job!?
I agree with too much heat - its a sweated joint killer esp. in 15mm or 1/2" work.

Guys get easy with hand held bottles but using a large tank of air/acetylene for instance, is an altogether different animal - they can literally blow the solder out of the fitting.
I found the best way to learn was to solder as much as possible off site away from the building, behind the van if necessary. That way there's no chance of fire and no one watching over you making you nervous. I still do that where possible and of course there are less fumes.

Have a practice at home. Make up a loop of connecting pipework, attach it to a mains water supply and test for leaks.

The other thing is don't attempt to solder any pipes with water in.

Flux is a matter of opinion but I use Powerflow flux or Everflux. It needs to be an active flux.

Solder needs to be lead-free

A good blow torch make is rothenburger used with MAP gas
Important reply first, I am insured for heat and flooding kitchens. I am still pondering on whether to do plumbing myself or leave it to the pro's. I am a bit narcked at the moment having installed a £22,000 kitchen two weeks ago just for it to be flooded cos the plumber used a speedfit fitting without an O ring it.

I know accidents happen, but speedfit fittings on a higher end kitchen don't sit well with me, think I may use another plumber. Whinge over!

Thank you for your help I will refer back to it when I have bit the bullet and put my hand in my pocket to buy all the gear, thank you.
Look Into copper push fit like tectite, if you fancy being really posh you could use pressfit.
Speedfit it might be easier but have to say I can't stand the stuff. Can't get better than a nice permanent copper soldered joint.

It's also a skill in itself to do copper pipework especially when using a pipe bender and spring to shape a length of copper pipe with minimal joints.

Can't say same about push fit.

On a 22k kitchen for that money nothing other than copper should have been used! I know that's a matter of oppinion but due to the value of a kitchen like that my oppinion is only the best would do... Saggy improperly installed plastic doesn't qualify as best.

Just doing a bathroom at the moment, must of redone and installed as a combination 40m pipework easy.
What about about restoring earth bonding if plastic is used? Especially when clamping steel sinks back to copper regardless of the DHW CW supplies to taps etc. If aleterations are run on in push fit? Or is this the sparkies job!?

Earth bonding isn't necessary if the sink is connected solely by plastic piping, ie no metal pipe to metal sink contact. That goes for HW, CW and drains.
If it's a 20K+ kitchen just pay a plumber less than 1% of the total cost to do a proper job in copper.

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