Sweating ball valves

Awl--
Hopefully my last plumbing Q! Man, am I buried here!
I have previously screwed up sweating ball valves, and frankly don't see how
the teflon seals withstand the heat, even with "good technique", which mine
most likely is not, given the rare plumbing that I do.
So what I do is buy threaded ball valves, and separately sweat a suitable
length of copper pipe to copper adapters, screw those in to the threaded
valves, and continue sweating some safe "thermal distance" from sed ball
valve.
Sometimes I'll even use a union, depending...
Am I bein a wus?? Is there a more reliable way to sweat ball valves?
I know there is some precedence for this, as I have seen sweat valves w/
removable flange-type ends, presumably for just this problem--but of course
they cost big(ger) $$.
In general, I sort of mix threaded w/ copper, like for caps: Instead of
sweating a cap to a tee, I'll first sweat an adapter, and then screw on a
threaded cap--makes subsequent connections easier, I think. I always found
sweating previously-wet copper "in line" a real pita.
Also, along the lines of ball valves, I noticed diff. 1/2 threaded valves
have diff IDs!
Gas ball valves have the smallest, but a nice thumb-handle. Can I use these
for water, as well?
Water ball valves have the longer handle, but even these have diff. IDs,
which I find surprising. Any idears on why? Just diff. mfrs?
A'ight, thanks! I hope this it, fer plumbing!!
----------------------
Mr. P.V.'d
formerly Droll Troll
Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®
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I'm going to be watching the answers on this one, I've worried about it also and ended up using threaded ones. Lane
Reply to
Lane
I feel better already! :) ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll
Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®
Howdy,
Me too. I successfully installed a ball valve recently, only to find an annoying little leak (about a drip or two per day).
Steve
Reply to
Steve
IMO yes. I was buying 1/2 inch ball valves by the box for a while after we bought our house. I sweated them all in without taking them apart and removing the teflon seal, and they all work quite well.
The teflon is a pretty good high temperature material. Just don't go totally crazy with the torch.
Jim
Reply to
jim rozen
Take them apart; remove the fiddly bits; solder; re-asemble. Works for me. Ken.
Reply to
Ken Davey
The melting point of Teflon ranges from 500 deg F (Teflon FEP) to 621 deg F (Teflon PTFE). From a site on the properties of Teflon:
"The melting point of Teflon PTFE is one of the highest in organic polymer chemistry. Due to the strength of the carbon-fluorine and carbon-carbon single bonds, appreciable thermal energy must be sorbed by the polymers before thermal degradation."
The melting point of typical lead-free solder ranges from 450 - 495 deg F. Therefore, if you apply the heat correctly, your solder will melt before the Teflon is damaged.
I am not a professional plumber. But I've done a lot of plumbing repairs and upgrades. This is what I do:
1. Ensure that your parts are CLEAN! Use those special wire pipe cleaners to make sure you have nice shiny copper at both mating areas of the joint.
2. Apply a thin coat of water-soluble flux to both mating areas.
3. Fit the parts together. Make sure your geometry is correct.
4. Open the valve you are going to sweat so that hot air/steam can escape.
5. I like to wrap a wet (but not dripping) towel around the valve mechanism. Probably not necessasary, but it also helps you avoid charring the rubber coated handle if you accidentally pass your flame over it. Just be sure to keep the towel off/away from the joint you are sweating, otherwise you'll never get it hot enough.
6. Sweat the joint with your torch. Use a high heat flame. (If too low a flame, you will just dump heat into your pipes over a long period of time without the joint ever getting hot enough to melt the solder. What you want is high localized heat at the joint, before the rest of your pipe/valve has a chance to get really hot.) Focus 90% of your heat on the pipe leading into the valve.
7. As you're heating the joint, occassionally pull the flame away and touch the tip of your (lead-free) solder to the edge of the joint. If the temp is right, the solder will melt and instantly wick into the joint. If it sticks or doesn't immediately start to flow, it's not hot enough: take away the solder and apply more heat from the torch.
8 It doesn't take much solder to make a good connection. Avoid the temptation to flood the joint with solder. You should just see a tiny silver fillet around the circumference of the joint.
9. Allow the joint to cool and solidify before attempting to move or do other work on the pipe.
10. If you have difficulty getting the solder to flow or if you have drips and/or blobs of solder, there are four possible culprits: joint not clean, not enough flux, not enough heat, or too much solder.
Each threaded adapter you place in your system increases the cost, complexity, time to do the job, and the possibility of leaking. If you practice and learn to solder correctly, you can save a lot (in terms of money, time, and headache) by eliminating these extra joints.
This really isn't that difficult. First, make sure your joints are very clean. Water deposits, scale, old flux, and old oxidised solder must be cleaned away. You should have a bight shiny silver joint. (It's silver from the *now clean* old solder. It is neither neccessary nor desirable to remove all the old solder down to the base copper pipe. The old solder provides a pre-tinned joint for you.) Next, make sure the joint is bone dry. You may have to drain all the upstream and/or downstream pipes to make sure no water trickles into your joint as you're trying to solder it (sometimes it helps to blow air into the pipes). Plumbing supply shops sell dissolvable capsules that you can press into the pipe to stop any water from getting into your joint as you're soldering, but an old plumber's trick is to use the soft white center from a piece of bread to do the same thing. Frankly, I've never needed to do either: i've just made sure the pipes are well-drained and that the pipe near my joint is wiped dry.
Regards, Michael
Reply to
DeepDiver
I also sweated them without removing the ball, everything worked well. My approach was to use solder as soon as it becomes possible, rather than wait until the valve overheats.
i
Reply to
Ignoramus1723
I watched my plumber install one. He used his Mapp torch and sweated the ball valve like it was an ordinary fitting. I didn't see him do anything unusual. When I did my own, I wrapped a damp rag around it, and also used Mapp. If using propane, I think you have to heat it longer, and that makes it more likely for the Teflon to be damaged.
Reply to
AL
I've never had a problem - but if it's bugging you, go to a refrigeration house and get a tube of Calgon Thermo-Trap Heat Paste. It's literally wheat and water paste in a tube, you coat the outside body of the valve center and it'll soak up the excess heat while you sweat the fitting ends. When you're done it brushes or hoses off.
Ball valves can take the heat, certain other fittings can't, which is why they make the stuff.
Use the bread trick for wet pipes. Drain as much of the water as you can, then take a half slice of bread (sans crust) and wad it into a ball slightly larger than the pipe ID, and stuff it in a couple inches. Then sweat your last fitting together. The bread will hold back the residual water drops long enough to let you sweat the pipe, then it'll liquefy and blow through the system when you turn the water back on and flush it out.
They sell the little molded gelatin balls now for the same purpose, but that's no fun at all.
Different makers, different uses, too. The ones with the big holes are usually marked 'full port'. You want to go by the ratings, if they're marked WOG it's 'Water Oil Gas', and they usually restrict the stubby gas valves to gas only.
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Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman
also, heating teflon too hot causes dangerous gases to be emitted, which can kill tropical birds a lot sooner than it will affect you.
Reply to
Charles Spitzer
Something that really helps is having enough heat. A small flame will overheat the valve. I use an air-acetylene torch for doing copper pipe. It is more of a hassle lugging the little cylinder around, but it makes the job way faster because the joint heats so fast. ERS
Reply to
Eric R Snow
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Reply to
Ignoramus1723
Never heard of "just for copper"? It's the cat's ass for assembling hard copper and brass fittings. No heat required - goes on like crazy-glue and holds like a weld. Not gap filling, so not recommended for soft copper tubing, but approved for hot/cold water as well as oil and gas (natural, propane, or gasoline)
Reply to
nospam.clare.nce
If it isn't a "turbo torch" or other high swirl type torch, you are wasting your time, and gas. The old bernz-o-matic mixer heads are obsolete.
Reply to
nospam.clare.nce
I also prefer to use an MC sized cylinder and a small smiths air/acet torch for this kind of stuff.
If you want to see soft solder fittings like that go on *real* fast, use an oxyacetylene rig. With just about the smallest tip you own.
Jim
Reply to
jim rozen
We go through a lot of ball valves in a lot of sizes. We start to find that if the ball valve was installed with the valve open, it creates a very small imperfection that will seal ok when it is new, but will not hold drip free with age. Our plumbers have gone to working the valves in the closed position (this assumes new piping, no water or steam present) with a wet rag on the valve. The imperfection that is created is in the open position and the closed position is smooth and functional.
(top posted for your convenience) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net
Reply to
DanG
Hi Dan,
Are you sure about the valve orientation that's causing the leaking? What you've described seems counter-intuitive to me.
When a ball valve is open, then the smooth, solid, uninterrupted sides of the chromed ball are against the Teflon seal. When a ball valve is closed, then the through-hole of the ball is pressing against the Teflon. If the Teflon were to get hot enough to deform, then it would seem that it would be better to have the smooth, uninterrupted sides of the ball pressing against the Teflon, rather than the part of the ball with the through-hole in it (which would allow for an impression of the hole in the deformed Teflon seal).
Have you tried taking two ball valves apart (one heated with the valve open and one heated with the valve closed) to examine the seals and see what is causing the leakage that you've encountered?
Regards, Michael
Reply to
DeepDiver
I wrote correctly. Yes we have cut apart and disassembled more than one valve.
(top posted for your convenience) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net
Reply to
DanG
Someone earlier mentioned sweating ball valves disassembled. The $5 generic ball valves I see don't seem to be dis-assemble-able. Are they? Only some makes?? ---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll
Reply to
Proctologically Violated©®

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