How To Keep A Spout on a Copper Kettle

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Sara, here

One of the most common basic repairs I have in the shop is to reattach copper tea kettle spouts that have fallen off.

This happens often for generally one of two reasons (and they are kind of related).

The first is that the tea kettle is boiled dry. It happens super easily because people forget to shut off the heat, and copper gets hot and boils water faster than normal stainless or aluminum tea kettles to boot, so your margin of error is smaller. When the kettle gets too hot, the solder holding the spout on gets juuuust soft enough that the spout just pops off.

What’s nice about that is the solder doesn’t run – so you don’t have a stream of silver solder dripping down the face of your kettle. The reason for that is there is no flux around the spout at that time to make the tin run. But the weight of the spout will cause it to drop off when the solder is soft from over-heating.

The other reason the spout falls off is because when it DOES get overheated, the spout is typically only butt soldered (meaning it’s just sort of connected face to face) onto the side of the tea kettle. If a spout is riveted on (Bob taught me to rivet spouts on for just this reason), even when the kettle is overheated, the spout won’t fall off. The rivets will hold the spout in place.

So first of all, try not to overboil a tea kettle and risk the loss of a spout. But if you do have a piece custom made, or you have a repair done and there is extra material that can be burred out enough to take new rivets…get the rivets!

You can see the finicky work that goes into reattaching a tea kettle spout on this video:

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