Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Sweating Afternoon

Yes, I know, you are very tired of seeing pictures of my bathroom. But not many more -- hopefully. Today I sweated copper pipes for the first time in 30 years and I didn't set the house on fire! In yesterday's post, I shared with you that I had planned to just get a cheap faucet which clips on with a hex screw and an Allen wrench. Then later, I could hire a plummer to come make the pipe the right size. But after finding out that there is no such thing as a cheap faucet -- and I already knew there was no such thing as a cheap plumber -- I walked out with a Do-It-Yourself-but-don't-burn-down-the-house-pipe-sweating-kit.

The product's name is funny -- Bernz-O-Matic! The kit contains flux, a brush, propane container and torch.
It was easy to connect the torch to the container, just like the propane tank on the grill only not as heavy. The other things that I had to buy was emery fabric to rough up the pipe, a pipe cutter and the copper tubing, threaded nozzle, and connector. One thing that I already had that came in very handy was a pair of fire gloves. The first thing that I did was put the threaded end on the pipe. I can't show pictures of myself sweating the copper pipes as I can't hold solder, the pipe and an I-phone! But the gloves came in handy. The pipe got really hot but I never felt it with the glove on.

After I got that done, I cut the pipe to the measurement I had calculated. The pipe cutter was a little small and hard to tighten down after every turn or two. But I was able to make it easier by using a pair of pliers. I guess my hands are not as strong as they used to be.

What is the saying about measure twice, cut once? My calculations are not as good as they used to be either and I might have done better if I had thought about it first. After I put the connector and pipes together to test the length, realized that a 6 inch faucet did not mean I needed a 6 inch pipe, and I had to remeasure, recalculate and re-cut the pipe.

One other purchase I made ended up being a good idea, too. It is a heat shield that you put up behind your pipe and it protects the area behind it. The guy at Menards told me that I could burn the ceramic tile -- pop them right off the wall. So I thought it was a good idea to get one of those. And after I started to sweat those pipes, I was really glad as I couldn't get an angle that the flame didn't get too close to the tile. I finally got all three joints soldered and the water running.

I finally was able clean my tub. After weeks of demolition, mud and tape, thin-set, grout and caulk -- that was one dirty tub. All in all, I am pretty happy with the results and I think that my $60 purchase was most likely cheaper than a plumber. And you never know when I might want to sweat some more pipes.

Happy sweating!
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