People who know me call me a Jack of all Trades since it appears to them that I know a lot about just about everything. Of course I know different. I don't know everything but I am willing to learn new things provided I have some idea what to do and with the wealth of videos on the internet, I can get that idea of what to do fairly easily.
One of the things that I've never done in my life was solder copper piping. Our old farmhouse that I grew up in has copper piping but my father never modified any plumbing that I can remember until I was years out of the house and then, I wasn't around to see him do it. For decades I lived in a series of apartments where I never had to do any plumbing on copper piping or a house that only had pvc piping. Then I bought this house which is full of copper piping.
When I first moved into the place, every upstairs sink was leaking and since I had other fish to fry, I hired out a plumbing company to come in and replace all the valves which solved most of the leaking. The rest I was able to take care of with numerous trips to the hardware store, a story I blogged about a time or two.
Since then, I've had a little bit more time and decided that I should give it a try myself. My first opportunity came with an outdoor spigot that a previous owner had let freeze up and burst. I had to remove some siding to see what I was dealing with and then went to the hardware store to stock up on supplies. I bought some copper tubing, elbow and coupling fittings, a heat shield, flux, solder and a torch to get me set. All told, I paid less for all that stuff than I did for the labor charge of the plumbers that came last summer. I only had two joints to solder and it went smoothly.
I shelved my tools satisfied that it wasn't too hard and forgot about them until I dug into the bathroom project downstairs. After I shut off the valves under the sink and removed it, I noticed the next day a small puddle of water underneath the pipes. Those valves weren't replaced last summer when I had the plumber do the rest because they weren't leaking. However, I should have just had them done anyway because they were the same as all the rest and once I used them after 40 years of rust buildup, they just don't seem to be able to shut completely off.
I dug out all my gear and soldered up a valve assembly to some tubing and fittings to go into the place of the old valves. I decided to make the assembly ahead of time so that I only have one joint on each pipe (hot and cold) to solder next to the wood case of the vanity. I have a heat shield cloth to help prevent the wood from bursting into flames but I still thought it prudent to lessen any chances of fire. Another reason was that the original plumber didn't leave much of a stub of copper pipe coming from the wall so after cutting off the old valve, I lost another 1/2" of an already short pipe and thus making it even closer to the wood. But I was able to pull the pipe out a bit, clamp it off with some vicegrips until I got it soldered to the new valve without any mishap.
This time I did something different. I left the pipe on the downstream side of the valve plain for now. Because my wife hasn't picked out a new faucet yet, I don't know what combination of fittings I will need to connect to the 1/2" copper tubing. I could have soldered on some fittings to a pipe thread but it would inevitably be the wrong thread and require a couple trips to the store to get all the right fittings. So I am going to punt until I know what I need and then make the last solder joint at that point. But now I am almost comfortable with doing so, at least to those who consider me a Jack of All Trades. (In my mind, I always add... and Master of None.)