Plumbers solder vs. Electrical solder..Does it Matter?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by OlyRider, Apr 15, 2007.

  1. OlyRider

    OlyRider Long timer

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    OK, so I screwed up and used plumber's solder to join two wires. Actually, I didn't know there *were* two kinds! Does it matter? Will I have to redo this?

    Thanks!

    Paul
    #1
  2. Cauldron

    Cauldron Now in DESMODROMIC!

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    The plumbers union does not get along with the electrical union. Use the right stuff or Vinnie and Guido will visit you.


    And now your wires will leak...




    .
    #2
  3. RedUly

    RedUly Esse Quam Videri

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    Yes, it matters. Solders contain a chemical to clean the surface of the metals being joined. Plumbing solder uses an acid (it's also know as acid core solder). The acid will corrode electrical wiring, so electrical solder uses a milder chemical. Electrical solder is also called rosin core solder because the chemical used to be pine rosin. I don't think they actually use rosin any longer, but the name is still around.

    You probably do not have to redo the connection, but I would spray something on it which will wash away the acid. Electrical contact cleaner will probably work.
    #3
  4. JAFO

    JAFO displaced Jeep guy.....

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    Nance has it mostly right-

    You DO have to redo the connection-- and I would actually clip the wires back an inch from the junction, on each side, as the acid core solder has wicked up into the wire. At some point, it WILL fail.

    also-- use heatshrink to cover the connections-- it's infinitely superior to electrical tape.

    (I solder to milspec, and have built cables for everything from radar systems to missile control systems. I have a bit of experience in this area ;) )
    #4
  5. torags

    torags Long timer

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    what's your opinion of the paint on electric tape.
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  6. peterman

    peterman cop magnet

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    Nail polish works.
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  7. JAFO

    JAFO displaced Jeep guy.....

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    paint on electric tape has it's place-- and that is to put OVER regular plastic tape to provide a weather seal, particulalry with the lower grade tapes.

    3M 33 is the only tape I'll use. It's expensive, but it works.

    If you're trying to seal something that you need to work on again at some point in the future, do this:

    put a layer of electrical tape on the item, sticky side OUT.
    layer of rubber tape over that
    layer of electrical tape, sticky side down, over the whole mess
    paint it with the liquid stuff.

    This is really good for RF cables on antennas. In fact, it's how the US Navy taught me to do it.
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  8. the kaz

    the kaz has become "FERAL"

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    HOLY just about fell off my chair :rofl :rofl :rofl :rofl :rofl

    Electrical tape and vehicles equals bad news but heat shrink is great. I have had some success with the brush on stuff when heat shrink wasn't practical but it is always a last resort for me ....

    As far as the solder goes ??? what brand and model was it ???
    I use both rosin core and silver here at work but always thought the only difference between rosin core plumbing solder and rosin core electrical solder was the alloy percetanges as well the diameter ... could be wrong :huh
    #8
  9. DREW823

    DREW823 Been here awhile

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    As a Plumber for 30yrs....I have to agree with Jafo....:deal
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  10. greywolf

    greywolf Unpaved road avoider

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    Since so much plumbing solder is solid and meant to be used with paste flux, I've got to wonder if the job was done without flux or if a paste was used instead of acid core.
    #10
  11. CBR900RR

    CBR900RR Adventurer

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    The best insulation (IMHO) is marine heat-shrink. It contains an adhesive that melts to form an excellent seal, as well as shrinking when heated.
    #11
  12. GSWayne

    GSWayne Old Guy nOOb

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    In the old days it was simpler. Electrical solder was 60:40 or 63:37 with rosin core and plumbing solder was 50:50 tin:lead and often had an acid core. It is even more complicated than it used to be because plumbing solder in the last 10 years or so contains no lead. Soon electrical solder will also be lead free and there are lots of possible replacement alloys. Also plumbing solder may or may not have an acid core. So the answer to his question is not simple, but the conservative answer would be to redo it because it might have been done with acid core solder.
    #12
  13. Kraftsman 73

    Kraftsman 73 Been here awhile

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    Looking for a source of the afore-mentioned marine heat-shrink. Also, being a soldering neebie, I am looking for a source of regular heat-shrink tubing. I have recently purchased a Weller 8400 soldering gun (for $23!!!), 60/40 rosin core solder 1/16" dia. and an assortment of heat-shrink. In my search for soldering supplies I was unable to locate any rosin flux :huh . Found that to be rather odd. I trust the Gurus will point me in the right direction.
    I have learned a few things from reading the various posts on this thread. Many thanks to all :clap :clap :clap :clap :clap

    Kraftsman 73
    PS, just won an auction on E-Bay for a spare rear wheel for my KLR 650. I will now be able to switch between dedicated road wheels and dedicated off road wheels.
    #13
  14. JAFO

    JAFO displaced Jeep guy.....

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    unless you're working on a nuclear submarine or something aerospace, I wouldn't sweat the flux issue. There's enough flux in the solder itself.

    Not sure what type of iron the Weller you bought is-- but if it's not a pencil iron, get one. they're MUCH easier to use.

    Google "how to solder" will tell you all you really need to know. Also, you want the high-grade non-PVC heatshrink. It stays flexible after shrunk, where the PVC type doesn't. The tubing with the adhesive in it is really overkill for anything not left in the weather/not carrying RF. Better to just give yourself about a 1/2" on each side of the joint, size the shrink properly to the wire, and shrink it down thoroughly. I suggest getting a cheap heat gun for the task, as well. Try your local model airplane store-- they use heatguns to shrink down the plastic film on aeromodeling projects.
    #14