Copper piping still remains the preferred choice of most plumbers for domestic and commercial systems, and there are several obvious reasons for this.
Copper pipes are incredibly durable, with an average lifespan of 50-70 years and can handle pressures of up to 1000psi. They are able to withstand a wide range of temperatures, are resistant to corrosion, do not contaminate water (unlike lead), and they are recyclable, lightweight, and fire resistant.
Sometimes there will be a need to join two or more Copper pipes together, for example, to extend or divert an existing system. Copper pipes can be joined using a variety of processes, including compression joints, welding, brazing, or soldering.
Welding is regarded as a reliable way of creating a strong mechanical connection. However, the heat required for welding is significantly more than for soldering or brazing – bringing several safety implications. Welding is also trickier with thinner metals such as copper..
Most plumbers/professionals will use solder in order to join copper pipes/tube joints. Usually, they will use a lead-free acid core solder that is specifically designed for copper pipes. Soldering takes place at a temperature below 840°F (450°C) and is quick and effective.
Brazing (also known as silver soldering or silver brazing) involves joining two pieces using a material known as a brazing filler material. Brazing is the preferred choice for refrigeration or HVAC systems, due to the fact that a brazed joint can be up to five times stronger than a soldered one. It is also a better choice if dissimilar metals need joining. Brazing occurs at a temperature above 840°F, higher than that needed for soldering
There are also several ‘no-flame’ joining methods for situations where the use of heat is dangerous/impractical. These include compression joints, flared joints, toll-groove coupling systems, and press-connect and push-connect fittings that have an elastomeric seal or gasket. Copper pipe connectors are extremely useful products and are available in a huge range of shapes and sizes.
Pipe connector specialists
There are many companies specialising in these products, with plenty of choice available such as these copper pipe connectors from Watkins and Powis.
To summarise, there are several ways of joining copper pipes – including welding. But, soldering and brazing are usually preferred for the reasons outlined above, although the use of ‘flameless’ joining is also popular.