Product From the UK Makes Joint Connections More Secure

Tool takes the mess out of applying flux while minimizing contamination, waste and failed solder joints.

Product From the UK Makes Joint Connections More Secure

The Fluxuator, made of PET plastic, holds 75 grams/2.65 ounces of flux. It is used for a cleaner, more efficient application of flux.

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It’s uncanny how flux seems to attract bits of debris. But that’s no longer an issue for plumber John Thompson, thanks to the Fluxuator, a tool that not only protects flux from contamination, but applies the correct amount to pipes and fittings every time.

Thompson, who owns Thompson Family Plumbing & Rooter in Hesperia, California, has been using the Fluxuator for almost a year and says it pays for itself by reducing solder-joint failures that stem from dirty flux.

“We own three Fluxuators,” says Thompson, who established the company in 2013. The firm employs 11 people and runs seven service trucks, mostly Chevrolet and Ford cargo vans and box vans with Knapheide bodies. “It’s a very useful tool. I’m a very obsessive-compulsive kind of guy when it comes to soldering joints, and I like to make sure things are clean.

“I also don’t have time for joint failures,” he adds. “I have time to get to a job, fix it once and be done. I have other customers that need me. So it’s great to have a tool that helps my right-now customers get their water on faster (with no joint failures). That’s the bottom line.”

LEARNING ABOUT THE TOOL

Thompson first heard about the Fluxuator, which is made in the United Kingdom, through an Instagram feed called World Plumbers. Designed by plumber Dominic Fowls and a friend, Andrew Zacharias, the Fluxuator is made of durable PET plastic.

The tool provides even, 360-degree application of flux to pipes. It consists of two components: a small, ergonomically designed, clear-plastic canister that holds 75 grams (about 2.65 ounces) of neutral (pH 7) flux — enough for roughly 500 applications — and a dosing-head tube that screws onto the canister.

The dosing head has a port on one end with four small brushes inside it; the other end holds a removable brush for applying flux to the inside of fittings or on pipes in hard-to-access areas where the Fluxuator won’t fit. A protective screw-on cap on each end protects the brush port and brush applicator from contamination when not in use.

HOW IT WORKS

Twisting a cap on the bottom of the canister raises a plunger that pushes flux up and into the dosing-head port, filling the brushes with flux. Then a plumber just inserts a pipe into the port, gives the tool a 90-degree twist, and removes it from the pipe, leaving behind an even application of flux around the exterior circumference of the pipe.

“It’s very easy to use,” Thompson comments. “It applies the flux at the same depth as the fittings you’re pushing the pipe into, so you’re not overfluxing the pipe and wasting flux. And if the brushes happen to get dirty, you can flush the port with water to clean them.”

The Fluxuator comes in two sizes: One for 1/2-inch-diameter pipes and one for 3/4-inch pipes. There’s also a model that adapts to both pipe diameters. When the flux runs out, plumbers can either buy a refill canister or refill it with their flux of choice, Thompson says.

“I know plumbers are very particular about the flux they use, so if you don’t like the flux it comes with, you can refill it with the kind you prefer,” he notes. “All you have to do is remove the canister and wash it out because you don’t want to mix the different chemicals from two different kinds of flux.”

AN EFFICIENT ADDITION

Using the Fluxuator is much more efficient than carrying around a flux pot and a brush. “The brush always gets dirty because you’re constantly setting it down somewhere,” says Thompson, whose company primarily does service and repair plumbing, drain cleaning, and light new construction in and around Los Angeles and San Bernardino County to the northeast.

“Applying flux the traditional way can be a pain in the rear, especially if you’re soldering in awkward positions, like up on a ladder, where there never seems to be enough room to keep your tote, flux and brush all in the same place,” he continues. “I usually tie a rope to the Fluxuator and hang it by me, then I never have to worry about dropping it.”

And while it doesn’t save Thompson a ton of time in terms of flux application, it does reduce the chances for joint failures due to contaminated flux, which is a big timesaver in the long run. Moreover, using the Fluxuator — which costs about $20, depending on the exchange rate for the English pound (refill canisters cost around $15.50) — is more efficient because there’s no excess flux to wipe off. Plus, solder joints look neater, he adds.

“I’ve totally fallen in love with the Fluxuator,” he says. “I consider it a tool — a great piece of equipment to have on our trucks.”



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