Short #53 – Brazing Steel (Podcast)
In this short podcast episode, Bryan covers the unique practices of brazing steel. He also explains how it differs from brazing copper.
Brazing steel appears to be a rather uncommon practice in the HVAC industry. However, we actually do braze steel when we braze in compressors. Many compressors have copper-plated steel stubs; only the outer coating is copper, and if you burn through it, you'll reach the steel. However, steel requires a different fluxing agent than copper-to-copper or copper-to-brass brazing; you can't use a 15% silver-phosphorus rod because phosphorus doesn't react well with steel.
Instead, you will need a high-silver rod WITHOUT phosphorus when brazing steel to steel, copper, or brass. We recommend using a separate fluxing agent or flux-coated rods. However, high-silver rods are expensive and REQUIRE flux. When working with a compressor with copper-plated steel stubs, try to get all the solder off with heat.
When working with steel, you must keep in mind that it has a higher melting temperature and lower thermal conductivity. In other words, you can apply more heat to steel without it melting, but the heat doesn't transfer to steel as easily as it does to copper. You'll want to move your torch around more and pay more attention to the tip you use. Even though the thermal properties differ from copper, you're still aiming to get the steel to a dark cherry red color, about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember, you also want to protect any other components that will come into contact with the heat. You can use a wet rag or Refrigeration Technologies WetRag, which works great as a heat-blocking putty.
Learn more about Refrigeration Technologies HERE.