How to Remove Solder from Copper Pipe

When you notice that a soldered copper joint is leaking during the application of full water pressure on the line, it’s a sign that the soldered joint needs to be removed. Removing a solder from a copper pipe might sound like an easy task, it is still important to replace the old joint with a new one to ensure it keeps working properly. Here’s a guide on how to remove solder from a copper pipe.

1. Turn The Water Off

This doesn’t just means making sure all faucets are not in use – you really have to shut off water from the main valve. After that, you have to drain the pipes by turning the faucets – both the highest and lowest – on. Make sure to place a bucket under the fitting to make sure that any additional water is caught when the pipe is removed.

2. Ensure Safety At All Times

You put yourself at certain risk when doing DIY tasks. As such, you will have to make sure you have the right protection so you don’t suffer severe injuries. The most important equipment for removing a solder are safety glasses. Since you will be using a propane torch and a set of tools, putting on safety glasses allows you to keep your eyes protected while you work.

3. Start Melting The Solder

Make sure to place heat-resistant cloth behind the soldered joint to prevent fire. Then, light the propane torch and adjust it to the hottest flame it is capable of producing. Hold the flame against the copper fitting until you see the solder begin to melt. This is a very crucial step where you really have to make sure you’re aiming at the fitting and not inside as that melts the pipe.

Keep a water spray bottle nearby in case a fire starts. This way, you can put the fire out as quickly as possible. Even better, make sure you have a fire extinguisher nearby or maybe even a bucket of water in case the flames are rather large.

4. Separate The Pipe From The Solder

Using water-pump pliers, hold the copper fitting and move it before it gets released from the copper piping. In case it sticks, free it from the solder by twisting a quarter of the pipe. Just be careful not to squeeze the copper fitting too tightly because that can cause damage to the copper piping.

5. Get Rid Of The Old Solder

With the aid of the propane torch, heat the ends of the copper pipe so that the old solder will melt and can be removed. Using a dry rag, wipe away any solder that is left. Take extra precaution to ensure you don’t burn yourself when wiping away the old solder from the pipe.

6. Sand The Copper Pipe

Sand about an inch up the ends of the copper pipe by using emery cloth. Make sure that there is no dust or grease left when sanding the pipe. After doing this, the pipe is now ready for re-soldering. When re-soldering a joint, make sure not to use an old copper fitting.