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Short #71 – Brazing, Is Patching OK?

In this short podcast episode, Bryan talks about brazing and soldering. He also weighs in on patching and if it is an allowable repair.

Brazing is when you use a dissimilar metal to join metals at a temperature above 842°F, and soldering occurs at temperatures below that. (Welding occurs when you use the same metal as a joining metal.) In our trade, we generally use soldering on copper plumbing and brazing on line sets. We also often call brazing alloys “solders,” such as silver solder.

When making a joint, you want to have a sufficient (but not oversized) gap between the male and female surfaces of the joint. That's because the joint needs a large surface area where the solder or alloy can flow in via capillary action. Temperature is critical, as it needs to be high enough to draw the alloy into the joint, but it can't be too high.

Patching is a controversial practice, but you CAN do it. If you are going to patch a system, it's best to do it on the low side of the system at a low temperature and with minimal vibration to minimize the risk of damage. Unlike traditional brazing, patching is when you use an alloy to seal up a small crack or leak; you don't want to draw the alloy into the joint. If you decide to patch, one of the best alloys you can use is 15% silver solder. You also risk blocking the tube. If you can cut the leaking section out and patch it with a coupling, that's an even better practice.

We DON'T recommend patching on the discharge line at all.

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