How to Unsolder Copper Pipe

When it comes to the plumbing system in your home, there are certain repairs you can do yourself such as replacing the faucet, unclogging the sink or unsoldering the copper pipe. Occasionally, you need to get into the pipe work or maybe, you need to replace a straight coupling and replace it with a T-joint. Another reason to remove the old joints is if there is a leak in the soldered joints.

Unsoldering the copper joint can be done by applying high heat over the copper coupling or connection that needs to be detached. This process takes several steps to finish. First, you need to have the necessary tools to get the work done easily and accurately.

Tools Needed

Propane Torch
This is the tool you will need in both soldering and unsoldering the copper pipe. It has a regulator and a tip that will be attached to a small tank. There are torches with built-in igniters and ones that require a match or lighter to ignite.


Soldering Pliers or Pipe Cutter
You will need this when you solder back the new copper fitting or T-joint.

Flame Shield
If you are working in a wooded area, a flame shield will come in handy.

Safety Goggles
Once the solder has melted, the fluid from the copper can burst and hit your eye so it is important to wear eye protection.

Leather Safety Gloves

Unsoldering Procedure

Tip: If you are replacing a coupling joint on a copper pipe, make sure that all the water in the pipe has been drained since failing to do so will prevent the solder from melting from the heat.

  • What you need to do now is to ignite the torch and apply heat on the copper fitting that needs to be unsoldered. Keep the heat over the fitting. As the soldering iron melts, leave the flame on for another 30 seconds to retain the heat on the copper, even after the torch has been removed.
  • Next, get the pliers and secure the fitting you want to remove while grasping the pipe with another pair of fliers carefully so as not to squeeze the soft copper too hard. After doing so, you can now twist the fitting with the pliers to detach it from the pipe.
  • On the other hand, if you want to unsolder a part of a copper pipe due to leak, you can remove only the pipe that is leaking. Follow the first procedure which is light up the torch. However, instead of placing the torch over the copper, it is the other way around.
  • Place the torch on a table and hold the pipe on both ends. Next, choose the brightest color of the flame and bring the joint in. You might want to put the copper over the flame and move it away every now and then to keep it from being too soft.
  • As you see the flame change its color you can remove the pipe from the heat and flex it a little, twisting it until it comes apart.

Unsoldering is a very common procedure especially in fixing plumbing problems. With the right tools and correct procedure, you can replace or repair copper pipes with ease.

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