Copper Pipe and Joints
If you ever have to join two copper pipes together, you can use one of two joints: a capillary joint or a compression joint. Both of these joints can be found as straight pipe couplers, elbows, reducers, tees and tap as well as tank connectors. You can also use either brass or plastic push-fit joints when working with copper pipe. In this article I will tell you a bit more about the capillary joint.
The name given to this joint comes from the solder flowing between the small gap that is between the actual pipe and copper fitting in a capillary action. These come in two different types: end-feed and solder-ring (also known as Yorkshire). With the end-feed fittings you have to add your own solder and these are therefore cheaper. With the solder-ring fittings the solder comes as part of the fitting and this makes them easier to use. However, even if you are using a solder-ring fitting, it is always a good idea to carry some spare solders with you – just in case.
As you know, lead pipes was frequently used in plumbing back in the days but since, there has been a move to copper pipes. It is the same thing with capillary fittings. These are nowadays sold with either a copper based solder or a silver one – lead is no longer used. This is also in accordance with water regulations and pipes carrying drinking water. The biggest benefit of using capillary fittings is definitely the price. However, they are not only much cheaper than compression fittings, they also look much neater so will suit a location where the fittings cannot be hidden. The bad thing with capillary fittings is that once it has been made you are unable to adjust it. This can be an issue if you are using several elbows.
How to Make a Solder-Ring Capillary Fitting:
- Cut the ends of the pipe square
- Deburr the cut and clean the pipe with wire wool
- Brush the inside of the fitting with a wire brush and rub with wire wool
- Do NOT touch it with your fingers once cleaned
- Smear a very thin layer of flux over the pipe and inside the capillary fitting
- Assemble pipe and fitting
- Apply flux
- Apply heath very gently to both pipe and fitting
- Once a bright solder can be seen at the end of the fitting – the joint is done
- Leave it to cool down
- Using a damp cloth, wipe the joint to remove any excess flux
How to Make an End-Feed Capillary Fitting:
The technique for making end-feed capillary fittings is pretty much the same as for the capillary fittings. Once the fitting has been heated though, remove the blow-lamp and touch the solder in order to expose the end (obviously not with your hand). If you reached the correct temperature, it should flow into the joint itself.
Buying Plumbing Tools and Equipment
As a plumber you will need your fair share of tools and equipment in order to provide a good service for paying customers. There are generally two main places to go for your pipes, fittings and plumbing supplies and the first one is a plumber’s merchant. They specialises in all sorts of plumbing goods and even though they were first intended for the tradesmen, many now sell to home owners hoping to deal with certain plumbing jobs themselves. A great thing with a plumber’s merchant is that they are very knowledgeable and can often provide good advice, should you need it. They are great for stocking even the most unusual of fittings but these are however rarely on display so it is useful if you know what you are looking for.
Another place where you can find plumbing supplies is a normal DIY superstore. Most of these will have an excellent range of everything from plumbing fittings to pipes. The best thing with them though, is that a DIY superstore have most things on display so it provides for easy browsing if you are not quite sure what you are looking for. Another great thing is that components are often sold in kits. This means that if you are looking to install a basin, the kit for that job will contain all necessary fittings needed. You can also buy a complete waste pack for a modern sink, if you need one. Another great thing about DIY superstores is that they are often cheaper than the plumber’s merchant. A negative thing is that you are not likely to get any professional advice from anyone working there and it can also be tricky to find some of the more unusual fittings.
There are other places that often stock plumbing goods and you can normally find some basic stuff at a regular hardware shop, a builder’s merchant or from a do-it-yourself shop. The range they hold might be quite limited and sometimes the prices are higher than in the specialist stores. Most bathroom centres or kitchen specialist stores often keep a good range of plumbing supplies so it might be worth popping in for a quick look. Plumbing goods of all sorts can also be ordered from suppliers of other products such as central heating suppliers. Obviously, in this day and time you can get most supplies online as well but in that case, you will need to know exactly what you are looking for. Remember that many products are cheaper if you buy them in bulk. Once you have been in the business for a while you will learn where to go in order to get the most for your money.
When it comes to plumbing, there are a lot of tools and equipment to learn about but this is far from the only thing a plumber needs to know about. Obviously you will need to know what tool to use for what job but you will also need to learn about all the different pipes on the market and how to fit them correctly. In domestic plumbing for an example, you generally use two different types of pipes. The first one is used to carry both hot and cold water to the fitting and the other one is used to remove dirty water and to carry it to the soil and waste pipes installed. In this article, we will cover pipes and fitting when it comes to water supply.
Plumbing Background and Different Types of Pipes
Let us start with a little bit of trivia. The word plumbing actually derives from the Latin word of lead and when you hear that lead pipe has traditionally been used for water systems in the United Kingdom you can see how the term plumbing came to be. Lead pipes have, for the most part, been replaced by copper pipes and this means that most houses nowadays have a copper plumbing system. When it comes to lead pipes used in houses, it is predominately in houses from the 1930’s or houses built before that, where this can be found.
Another type of pipe that can be used for water is the galvanised iron barrel pipe. These can easily be recognised by the screwed ends and they use British Standard Pipe threads, also known as BSP. Threaded pipe joints are traditionally sealed with jointing compound and hemp. For all you who do not know what hemp is – it is a plant. Hemp is often referred to as plumber’s hemp. If you are looking to use it, make sure that it is clean and dry.
You can also find stainless steel pipes in some houses and these were used and installed during a time when copper prices went up, making copper too expensive to use. One of the advantages of stainless steel pipes is that they do not cause corrosion to galvanised cisterns. They are however rarely used nowadays as the price of things have changed once again and you will now find that stainless steel pipes are more expensive than copper pipes. Stainless steel pipes are also more difficult to bend and to join. A newer type of pipe on the market is the plastic pipe which can be used for both hot and cold water, including heating pipes. Any capillary fittings for these will however need special flux. Happy plumbing!