Braze or Solder Anything in HVAC/R
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The Solderweld kits themselves keep the brazing rods and fluxes nice, dry, and free of damage. Brushes come with the kits, which can help with cleaning the base metals before brazing and wiping flux off after brazing. The SW-HVAK05 comes with 5% Sil-Sol, Alloy-Sol with flux for aluminum, and Al-Cop braze. Silver in the Sil-Sol rods helps the solder flow out and flex a bit more, so higher silver content is desirable (but expensive), so the 5% Sil-Sol has 10% less silver than 15% Sil-Sol and won’t hold up to vibration as well as the 15%. The rod tubes also come with screw-tops, meaning that it’s harder to spill them and contaminate them with moisture.
The 56% Sil-Sol is a premium silver alloy and works very well for dissimilar metals. It’s pretty expensive and is not typically used on everyday HVAC jobs.
One of the most common brazing mistakes is unevenly and insufficiently heating the base metal. Many technicians are afraid of burning through the base metal, so they move the torch too much and are afraid of cherry red copper; however, dark cherry red is the desired color for brazing. Moving the torch in and out is the best practice, not zigzagging and waving the torch all over the copper. The most effective brazing jobs get the base metal hot enough to pull the alloy into the joint via capillary action.
When working with steel and copper, you have to be mindful of their properties. Steel can absorb more heat than copper, so if you concentrate on getting the steel to the right temperature, then you’ll get the copper to the right temperature without burning through it.
The aluminum soldering rods come with flux cores. Although many techs like to stay away from flux whenever possible, the flux is very good for working on dirty aluminum, especially on microchannel coils. The soldering rods make very solid patches in the hands of experienced technicians.
Al-Cop Braze rods have non-corrosive flux inside the channels and are quite flexible. You would just place the rod flux-side-down on the heated material. Once the flux settles on the metal, you can apply the rod. Al-Cop works on copper, aluminum, and copper to aluminum joints.
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