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Flexible-copper tubing is most frequently used to run gas lines or as water- supply lines for dishwashers and evaporative air coolers. It’s particularly useful when access is limited, because it comes in coils up to 100 ft. and requires fewer fittings than rigid pipe. There are two common weights: type "L" is used for household plumbing and type "K" is a heavier tube used for underground and other installations.
Flexible-copper tubing can be joined with flare fittings or compression fittings, or it can be soldered the same as you would rigid-copper pipe. A well-soldered joint is stronger and more durable than a flare-fitted joint, but flare fittings can be taken apart using a wrench. Remember, flare joints can leak unless carefully made. Even a small dent in the tube end can create a problem.
When you buy flexible copper and fittings, pay close attention to the size. Unlike other types of pipe, it’s sold in both inside diameter (i.d.) and outside diameter (o.d.) sizes.
Making a Flare Fitting
1. Cut copper pipe squarely with a tube cutter and remove burrs from rough inner edge. Slip a flare nut on the pipe and clamp pipe tightly between the flaring tool’s two bars so the pipe’s rim is even with the bars’ top surface.
|2. Mount shaper to bars and screw down ram to expand copper into cone-shaped mold. Remove pipe and inspect flare for cracks, unevenness or other damage.|
| 3. Screw a flare nut to the fitting, using two wrenches to tighten the
joint -- one to hold the fitting, one to tighten the flare nut. If
the joint leaks, cut off the flared end and start over.
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You can make gradual bends in tubing by hand or by molding it around a form. However, do this with caution; the tube can kink suddenly and you’ll have to cut and join the pipe to use it. For sharper bends, insert the tubing into the bending spring, shown here, using a clockwise twisting motion, to the point of the intended bend. Slightly over-bend the tube, then ease back to the desired angle or curve and twist off the spring.If you don’t have a bending spring, you can fill the tube with sand while bending; however, this trick only works if the pipe is loose on both ends and you can thoroughly clean it out afterward.
Soldering Valves and Adapters
Soldering brass fittings, like shower and shutoff valves, requires more heat than soldering solid-copper fittings, so leave valves open to avoid pressure buildup. If the valve has soft plastic or rubber parts, remove them when possible to avoid damage.Be patient when soldering brass valves. Use a propane or MAPP-gas torch as for copper fittings and heat the joint from several sides, if possible. Always leave valves open and remove soft parts when soldering.
Angle the tube end upward when soldering on threaded adapters to avoid filling threads with excess solder. As a rule of thumb, the amount of solder needed is equal to the pipe’s diameter; for example, a 1/2-in. pipe needs 1/2 in. (12 mm) of solder.
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Last modified: Friday, 2016-03-18 6:48 PST