Frequently Asked Questions
Q. "I can't seem to get my solder to stick to copper?"
A. We are assuming you are using the quality solder that we sell on this page. If not, and you purchased that elsewhere then you might want to look at the products that you're using as an issue as they may not be of the same quality or compatibility and our advice that we are about to give might not mean much.
You must first clean both the fitting and the pipe. No matter how clean and new the fittings and pipe look, you must clean them (with sand cloth, mesh pad or brush designed for this). Then use a quality flux specifically designed for that solder. DON'T overheat. Most beginners tend to overheat the fitting/joint. There is a small melting (liquid) range of the solder. Once it flows (the solder gets into its liquid state) do not raise the temperature of the solder as you could raise it to a level where it will no longer be able to flow. Then you will probably assume that since it won't flow, it must not be hot enough and you will continue to heat it. A common mistake for soldering beginners. So as soon as you see the solder melting take the flame away but keep the solder in place. The solder will continue to melt into the fitting. Tip: Always heat the area where you want the solder to flow to.
Q. "Isn't lead dangerous?"
A. Using lead products for drinking water is against all U.S. codes and not advised. Using lead for flashings is hard to beat as lead is the most durable flashing that we know of (although some areas now do not want you to use it due to children playing with it as well as a small potential is there to contaminate our environment with too much lead). You should wash your hands after using lead products and many recommend using gloves. Lead isn't like mercury and it won't go into your body just by holding it but if a child nibbles on it or you place your hands in your mouth after touching a lead product you could ingest some lead. We don't recommend using lead products for anything.
Q. "I'm hearing a lot about lead-free these days. What does that have to do with plumbing products and how does the new lead-free legislation affect me?"
A. Basically, the laws implemented Jan. 1st, 2014 require plumbing products that come in contact with drinking water to be "essentially lead free" (less than 0.25% weighted average). For further information about how the law determines what is "lead free", rules regarding which plumbing products must be "lead free", and who these laws will affect, please view our page.
Q. "Has lead been used a lot in water lines in the past?"
A. Yes. Even the word "plumber" is a derivative from the word lead. We understand that Chicago required lead water service line until about 1987 (if true, so much for code and local traditions rather than health concerns). The State of California had one of the first strong anti-lead campaigns. Now lead is not allowed in any water service anywhere in the U.S.. If you see a lead water pipe we highly recommend replacing it. If it isn't yours we recommend reporting it to your local health officials.
Q. "If my flux is lead free and meets the low-lead requirement of 2014 Federal Safe Drinking Water Act then why must it also meet the requirements of ASTM B813?"
A. ASTM B813 is more environmentally stringent than just lead free. It regulates and forbids the release of toxic fumes created during soldering. It also prohibits the release of toxic or corrosive substances into the water as a result of flux residue inside or outside a potable water system after soldering is completed. The flux residue must be able to be flushed out of the system with water.