How to Tell If Your Plumbing Solder Has Gone Bad
If you’ve ever had to deal with a clogged toilet, broken dishwasher, or other domestic plumbing issue, you know how frustrating it can be to fix. That’s because every homeowner has at some point run into a problem that seems insurmountable. The good news is that with a little sleuthing and a few simple steps, most home problems can be fixed. But when that doesn’t work out so well—say your faucet leaks and you need a new washer or something else major is broken—you may end up spending more than necessary to get the results you want. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to tell if your plumbing solder has gone bad before it causes you unnecessary stress.
What is plumbing solder?
Solder is a material that’s used to connect electronic components, like wires and circuit boards, or assemble plumbing components, like pipes and valves. During the manufacturing process, the solder is melted and combined with a flux to make a liquid that’s then applied to the two surfaces to be connected. The solder then cools to become a strong bond between the two surfaces. When soldering copper pipes, solder melts at a lower temperature than with other metals, like silver or gold. That’s because copper has a lower melting point than the other two, which is why soldering copper plumbing is generally considered to be a beginner’s skill. In most cases, if you’ve soldered copper pipes before, you probably know if it’s gone bad because you know what to look for. But copper’s malleability and strength make it a good choice for soldering copper pipes, so there’s a chance it could go bad even if you’re a seasoned professional.
Signs your plumbing solder has gone bad
– The solder no longer flows properly – Solder is applied to the parts to be connected, but instead of flowing as a liquid, it’s as hard or harder to break than the rest of the pipe, which could mean it’s gone bad. You can tell this by applying pressure to the joint, which should cause the soldered joint to give slightly so that it can be moved, just like a normal joint. If the solder becomes harder to move than the pipe it’s soldered to, it’s bad news. – The joint feels more fragile than a normal joint – If you break a bad joint, say to get something off the pipe, you may notice that it feels more fragile than a normal joint. That could mean that the pipe is bad and that the joint will break apart more easily than normal. – The joint turns a different color than the pipe – When you apply solder to copper pipes, it’s a permanent part of the joint. But when it’s bad, the joint can sometimes turn a different color than the pipe it’s soldered to, which could mean that it’s in need of replacement. This could be caused by oxidation, which copper doesn’t do naturally. If you see this, you may need to replace the bad solder joint with a new joint. – The joint gets thicker than it should – When you apply pressure to the joint, the joint should make a hissing or crackling sound like a normal joint. If the sound is different than normal, or the joint doesn’t make sound at all, it could be a sign that the solder joint is bad.
How to tell if your plumbing solder has gone bad
– Check your copper pipe – The first step is to check your copper pipe. If copper is the only substance that’s been soldered to the joint, the pipe itself is probably the culprit. If that’s the case, you may want to consider replacing the pipe. – Check the joint – If your copper pipe is bad, you need to check the joint. There are a few things you can do here, like using a joint-checking tool to apply pressure to the joint or using a plumber’s snake to get into a tight space. If the joint is bad, you need to replace it. – Check your solder – If the solder is bad, you’ll have to replace it. You can do this by melting the bad solder and re-fluxing the joint.
Replacing a bad solder can fix most problems
Keep in mind that if your copper pipe is bad, you’ll have to replace it. But if the solder joint is bad, you can replace it with a new solder joint. If the joint is bad, applying a new joint can often fix the problem and stop it from recurring. For example, say you turn the water on with a new faucet but the tap doesn’t come off. You can try turning off the water and then reassembling the faucet, but that’s a lot of trouble for a relatively small problem. But if the solder is bad, you can just replace it, and it’ll work again.
Hopefully you’ve learned a few ways to tell if your plumbing solder has gone bad and how to replace a bad solder. But plumbing solder is made to be used in specific ways, so even if it’s bad, you should be able to fix the problem with a little patience and tinkering. While it’s certainly frustrating to have to troubleshoot a problem, we also have to remember that plumbing problems are fairly rare and most can be fixed with a little effort. So don’t let a bad solder ruin your day. Instead, figure out what’s causing your problem and fix it as quickly and efficiently as possible.