Copper Industry Update

January 20, 1997


As we are all aware, the only thing consistent in the building construction industry is change. To meet the challenging demands of this ever changing industry, the copper industry continually strives to produce new or improved products, processes and standards for use in building construction. This update was prepared to advise the piping industry of several new standards related to the use of copper and copper alloy tube and fittings that will appear in the latest editions of the major model plumbing codes such as the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), National Plumbing Code (NPC), Standard Plumbing Code (SPC) and the International Plumbing Code (IPC). The following four standards may be included in the latest editions of these codes as well as in many state and local plumbing codes.

  1. ASTM B 813 - 93, "Standard Specification for Liquid and Paste Fluxes for Soldering Applications of Copper and Copper Alloy Tube"
  2. ASTM B 828 - 92, "Standard Practice for Making Capillary Joints by Soldering of Copper and Copper Alloy Tube and Fittings"
  3. ASTM B 819 - 95, "Standard Specification for Seamless Copper Tube for Medical Gas Systems"
  4. ASTM B 837 - 93, "Standard Specification for Seamless Copper Tube for Natural Gas and Liquefied Petroleum (LP) Gas Fuel Distribution Systems"

ASTM B 813 was developed by the Copper Development Association Inc. (CDA), in cooperation with the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and representatives of soldering flux manufacturing companies. CDA has received reports, from time to time, that the use of overly aggressive fluxes (or excessive application of normally acceptable fluxes) has caused pitting corrosion of soldered copper tube systems. ASTM B 813 limits the corrosivity of soldering fluxes and ensures that these fluxes are flushable in cold water, which facilitates easy removal of flux residues after installation. The use of fluxes complying with this standard should go a long way towards eliminating corrosion concerns related to soldering flux residues. However, joints made using these fluxes are not exempt from proper joint preparation according to satisfactory industry practices.

ASTM B 828 helps to solidify and standardize what is meant by the term "satisfactory industry practices." As its title implies, this standard practice outlines the steps required to consistently make satisfactory soldered joints using copper and copper alloy tube and fittings. The method outlined in this standard has been developed and promoted by the Copper Development Association Inc. and has been used throughout the United States. The use of this standard practice along with the proper materials should ensure consistent, high quality soldered joints and reduce system failures related to improper workmanship.

ASTM B 819 contains the requirements for the manufacture of straight length Seamless Copper Tube in Type K and L wall thickness schedules specially cleaned to meet the needs of the medical gas industry. This specification identifies six optional cleaning procedures that may be used to produce copper tube that meets a set limit for internal cleanliness. Tube produced to ASTM B 819 is specially marked with one of the following "OXY", "MED", "OXY/MED", "OXY/ACR" or "ACR/MED" in a color (green or blue) appropriate to the tube type.

ASTM B 837 establishes the requirements for seamless copper tube suitable for use in above ground natural gas and liquefied petroleum (LP) gas fuel distribution systems installed in conformance with the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 54, National Fuel Gas Code and various state and regional codes that recognize and list this standard. These systems are commonly assembled with flare fittings or brazed joints. Tube produced to ASTM B 837 is special marked as Type "GAS" and color coded yellow.

For more information on these standards or any other questions regarding the use of copper and copper alloys, contact a CDA Regional Manager at 212/251-7200.