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Black pipe or copper what's your choice and why?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by goosegunner, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. b33p3r

    b33p3r Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    I'm just a DIY homeowner but I can offer 2 bits of advice when soldering that I haven't seen listed here. One that drove me nuts and the other I just recently learned.
    Drove me nuts: When you cut a piece of copper, look into the cut end. I once had a defective piece of copper pipe that had a very small section of the wall that had a "channel" in it. So if you looked into the opening of the pipe, the wall was 1/16th of an inch thick(just a number, not actual) but there was one small section that was only 1/32 of an inch thick. The channel was too big to take the solder. Took me 3 tries before I figured out what was going wrong. And yes it was in an uncomfortable position to be soldering. Damn Murphy!
    The learned aspect was to wipe your solder joints with a dry rag not a wet rag. A wet rag can cool your solder joint to quick creating a "Cold" solder joint. The experts here can confirm or deny.

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  2. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    The rate of thermal conduction is much higher for copper than steel. Copper has the highest rate of thermal conduction, followed closely by aluminum.
  3. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    In Mass, M can only be used for heat. Domestic must be L.
  4. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    It has been written to wipe a joint with a wet rag. I use dry rags.
  5. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I fail to see the logic in that. One would think that the more severe use would warrant the heavier tube. Unless the powers that be in MA have deemed domestic plumbing to be more severe than 200* water connected to a pressure vessel.......just sayin
  6. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Municipal water pressure vaies from about 35 p.s.i. to as high as 160 p.s.i. IIRC. boiler pressure is 30 p.s.i. max. Plus there is the theory that the oxygen is rmoved from the water after boiling (?). I don't make the rules, just have to follow them. I have one customer whose domestic was plumbed with M, before the code changed. Over the years, I have replaced most of his pipes.
  7. kabbott

    kabbott Member

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    Round here M won't last very long on our well water, it will look like a soaker hose in 10 years. I use L for everything, except underground which must
    be type K.
  8. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    I use M for heat loops. It is cheaper and I've never had a call back. For near boiler piping I use black iron. For domestic it is L or Pex these days, now that it is legal here.
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Copper is very conductive but that doesn't translate into storage. For that you need specific heat. Black pipe is a lot thicker than type m copper, and the fittings for black pipe are massive compared to copper. Between the two pipes copper may heat up faster but I'd bet the steel would hold more heat.
  10. bpirger

    bpirger Minister of Fire

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    I'm a HVAC newbie and I just finished installing my Garn. I installed about 20' of 1.25" copper to do this and some 1.5" and 2" black iron. I found this thread very useful, and I wanted to share a few of my findings in case they help someone searching over the coming years.

    First, NO LEAKS! Incredible....and very very pleased.

    1. Cleaning copper takes forever. I spent likely 3-4 minutes cleaning a fitting with a 1.25" brush and likely 5-7 minutes cleaning each 1.25" pipe end. I don't know if one needs to, but I try and sand down the "horizontal scratches" one has on the pipe inside the fitting. Seems like these could be easy leaks....so it is worth a little time. If you can have a helper to sand/clean....do it. It just takes so long. 50% planning, 40% cleaning, 10% sweating....time usage.

    2. Make sure there are no brush hairs in your fitting or on your pipe in the flux. I also looked carefully.

    3. Put a number of fittings/pipe together and then sweat them all at once.

    4. This 1.25" pipe isn't likely sweating 1/2" or 3/4" pipe. It takes more heat and uniform heat isn't just a given like the smaller pipe. You have to move the torch around.

    5. 1.25" ball valves and etc. are big...they take heat...but don't overheat!

    6. Don't use too much solder! I wrecked one fitting when solder ran down over the threads. I also wrecked a Webstone Pro-Pal valve when the inner ring drooped. I think perhaps I turned the valve too early...though I think too much heat was involved too.

    7. Give yourself an easy way to drain the tubing should you need to, i.e. at the lowest point. If you have a leak, and you need to reheat, you have to be able to get the water out. I didn't need to, no leaks!, but I put this in.

    8. Though heaterman says no Benzomatic, and I take his words around here like Gospel (save the politics), I used the Benzomatic and Mapp gas. I already had it...

    9. Put in all the valves and fittings you can think of....easy way to rinse out the HX, strainers, isolation, etc. and so forth.

    10. Wipe your joints with a dry rag....what a differnce this makes in how it looks.

    11. If you can, assemble what you can on your workbench...so much easier than doing in place (well, was for me anyways...installed height is low to the floor).

    12. They make teflon tape in 1" width...and with big pipe, it sure is nice compared to 1/2". Find some and buy it.

    13. Teflon tape and pipe dope....no leaks!

    14. Home Depot doesn't have nipples in 1.5" and 2", especially 2", in many lengths. But a real plumbing supply store will have them in every 1/2" or so.....and their prices were often cheaper (for copper) than the box stores....and they don't have a damned sticker on every fitting. Look their first....and they know what they are doing.

    15. Make sure the joints on the valves are tight. I did have one a little loose out of the box.

    16. Setup a pressure test if you can....or test sections if possible. I was able to assemble all the copper around my HX and test it all. You can use a garden hose and a washing machine supply line to connect the garden hose to a boiler port. Extremely quick and easy and you can test at water line pressure before hooking it all up and flooding...and draining if need be.

    17. Custom cutting black iron at the box store or plumbing supply...no big deal...and if it will help make your job easier, just do it. Usually it is free.

    Hopefully some of this may help another newbie. I surely spent more time thinking about it all then actually doing it. You can do it yourself...Have fun and don't plan on getting it done quickly. And oh yes, you will spend considerably time just getting all the fittings/stuff you need. Even after you think you have it all. :)

    Bruce
  11. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    I would like to add strong second to bpirger's suggestion to add a drain valve at every low point. One with a garden hose fitting is really nice and convenient.

    I would also like to suggest that for the first leak test on a system that you put a pressure gage and schraeder valve (the air valve on a tire) on somewhere handy. Pump the system up with compressed air and watch the gage. If it holds pressure overnight, you're probably leak-free. If it is slowly leaking, get out your spray bottle and fill it with very soapy water and start spraying down each joint (start with the ones that gave you the most trouble joining) and wipe off the soap with a rag as you go.

    This way when you hit the leak you don't have water in the threads to squeeze out and you might even be lucky enough to just reheat a sweated joint in place.
  12. in hot water

    in hot water New Member

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    I just repiped my solar lines across the ceiling of the shop. I added collectors and needed to upsize to 1". I had to run about 80 feet of pipe. I went with Wheatland Pipe"MegaThread". It is a thin walled thread-able pipe commonly used in the fire sprinkler industry.

    It was about 1/3 the cost of copper and about $.70 a foot less than schedule 40 black pipe. Lighter to work overhead and a larger ID were two other benefits.

    With the money saved I splurged an used 1" wall fiberglass 1000 °F insulation. I believe it is a domestic pipe and it threaded without any tearing or rough threads.

    hr
  13. berlin

    berlin New Member

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    Western NY
    If you want absolutely perfect, leak proof black pipe joints use teflon AND a good thread sealant. One that I HIGHLY reccomend is "Grrip" from hercules chemical: http://www.herchem.com/products/thread_sealants.html

    It's given me perfect leak and seep free joints on fuel oil plumbing, steam, NG, water and anything I've used it on. I use 1" teflon tape and brush over with the grrip.
  14. nt30410

    nt30410 Member

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    Heaterman, I think it is opposite...no?
  15. Bob Rohr

    Bob Rohr Minister of Fire

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    Copper with press fittings is another option. You can borrow or rent a press tool.

    Press takes the potential leak concern off the table. Press takes maybe 1/3 the time to assemble also.

    Viega does have press fittings for steel and stainless steel now also.

    http://www.viega.net/cps/rde/xbcr/en-us/Viega_ProPress_Systems.pdf

    I think M if fine for boiler piping, take a look at the copper tube in baseboard heat elements, it is much thinner then M and it will last for a lifetime.

    If copper tube fails it is usually due to fluid quality, excessive flow velocity, or bad installation practice. Always ream the burr from copper tube if you cut it with a displacement tubing cutter.


    If you go with sweat, and do have a random leak, dis-assemble the joint and re clean and start over. Don't try to cap over a leaking solder joint, the problem is innthe fitting, not the edge :)

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