Not your Daddy’s Bread Solution

Soldering water lines, especially water main valves can be complicated because the main valve at the water meter just does not completely seal.  You find this out after you turn off the water, cut out the failed water main valve, usually an old gate valve style valve, and when you go to put your new ¼ turn ball valve and couplings in place, you see water constantly percolating to your end.  The water presence does not allow the pipes to be heated to an adequate temperature to melt your solder.  What do you do?

You recall back to your childhood days when you used to “assist” your dad with such things and the solution was; get a slice of bread, remove the crust, create a ball of dough and shove it in the pipe.  This dammed the water flow up sufficiently to complete the job at hand, while you were able to snack on the bread remnants and excitedly watched the flame melt the solder.  It was also exciting to watch the first use of the fixture blow out burnt dough ball.  Bread apparently has changed over the ages and this method does not work as it once did, and who really wants to deal with the bread clumps anyways?

Here is where the Test-Tite Twist N Seal pipe plug system comes to your assistance.  I prefer this plug system because the plug is expanded by easily straightening the handle which constricts the rubber plug on the inside of the pipe.  I also like this system because two handles complete the kit and work the range of pipes of ½” to 1” and from 1 ¼” to 2”.  I like that should you burn the rubber plug because you did not place it far enough into the piping, suggested 6” away from the solder point, you can obtain replacements without full cost tool replacement.  As you can tell by the attached photo, my ½”-1” arm is my primary pipe plug and has served me well for many years and has been a valued investment tool. 

My Test-Tie Twist N Seal pipe plugs, the bottom is my well used 1/2″-1″ arm

Being that the rubber plugs can be purchased separately you can incrementally obtain the plugs as you need, e.g. ½”, ¾” and 1” for the small arm and the 1 ¼”, 1 ½”, and 2” for the larger arm or obtain them in kits, such as these items.

Please note the first is for only the 1/2″ plug and arm and not the kit – the second one below is the kit for 1/2″-1″ with arm and the last is the 1″ plug with arm.

Now that your pipe is no longer wet, happy soldering.


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