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Old 11-22-2015, 08:51 AM   #1
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Replacing copper fittings?


Just curious: I know you can remove a copper fitting with heat, assuming the line is void of water..... But is it safe to replace a fitting this way?

What I'm looking to do is add a tee to our copper line to add some PEX. There's a 90 elbow conveniently close to where I want to be: could I just sweat the existing fitting off, and add a tee there? Or would it be inadvisable since the joints there are already tinned over? (Just trying to limit the amount of cutting I need to do....)
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Old 11-22-2015, 08:58 AM   #2
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You'll be fine. It's done often. Don't over heat it or deform the pipe or fitting while removing it- they're stubborn sometimes.
Wipe of all the solder you can as it adds to the OD of the pipe. Then prep and solder the joint as you normally would
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:17 AM   #3
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Excellent. That should prove much easier than cutting in the close quarters.

I've practiced a bit of sweating on some old pipe, but this would be my first real attempt on my actual house main: any signs to watch for that signal that you're over heating? (I found the propane torch I had took too long to heat the 1" practice piece, so I bought a map gas torch).
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:20 AM   #4
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EPlumber is a professional, so what is easy for him may not be easy for the OPS. Personally I have had nothing but trouble removing old copper fittings and replacing them in place. First off, there is no flux in the fitting, so you have to heat it hotter than if there were flux. Sometimes the fitting is very tight, hard to get off without damaging the pipe. Sometimes the solder remains on the pipe in a blob, and if it hardens you cannot get the new fitting on. Etc. Professionals have done this dozens, maybe hundreds of times, so they know the drill, and it looks easy. Amateurs who may have done this only a few times may have issues, I know I have.

My preference is to cut back to allow installation of a foot or so of new pipe and fittings. I like to presolder everything except the two connections to the existing pipe. A fresh connection on properly cleaned pipe is, at least in my experience, much easier than trying to reuse a fitting.
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:40 AM   #5
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Why not just cut the pipe and use a Shark Bite fitting?
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:27 AM   #6
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I am not a pro, but I have never had difficulty soldering pre-tinned fittings.

In tight quarters, sometimes I will pre-tin the fittings on a bench, then put them in position on the pipe. Push on the fitting as you hold the torch on the bigger piece--- when the solder reaches temp, it slips on --- add a little more solder for good measure ---done.
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
EPlumber is a professional, so what is easy for him may not be easy for the OPS. Personally I have had nothing but trouble removing old copper fittings and replacing them in place. First off, there is no flux in the fitting, so you have to heat it hotter than if there were flux. Sometimes the fitting is very tight, hard to get off without damaging the pipe. Sometimes the solder remains on the pipe in a blob, and if it hardens you cannot get the new fitting on. Etc. Professionals have done this dozens, maybe hundreds of times, so they know the drill, and it looks easy. Amateurs who may have done this only a few times may have issues, I know I have.

My preference is to cut back to allow installation of a foot or so of new pipe and fittings. I like to presolder everything except the two connections to the existing pipe. A fresh connection on properly cleaned pipe is, at least in my experience, much easier than trying to reuse a fitting.
I can't see it hurting to try and remove the fitting first... If it doesn't work, then I'll cut.

I was just worried that it may not go back together well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Why not just cut the pipe and use a Shark Bite fitting?
Eventually the connection will be buried behind a drywall ceiling, and I don't think I trust a sharkbite enough in a non-serviceable area.
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Old 11-22-2015, 11:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizzygone View Post
I can't see it hurting to try and remove the fitting first... If it doesn't work, then I'll cut.

I was just worried that it may not go back together well.



Eventually the connection will be buried behind a drywall ceiling, and I don't think I trust a sharkbite enough in a non-serviceable area.
Once the fitting is off, use a rag to wipe of molten solder from the pipe. Feel free to touch some heat to it to re-soften. Run some sand cloth over it just like new pipe.
Please be aware of where your open flame is at all times! I've started little fires by not paying attention
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Old 11-22-2015, 05:18 PM   #9
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Ayuh,..... I don't do much copper plumbin', since I discovered Pex,...

But,.... I've been usin' salvaged copper, 'n brass sweat fittin's forever,....

Bein' the packrat dumpster divin' type, I rarely buy sweat fittin's,...

Heat 'em up, pull 'em apart, clean 'em, retin 'em, 'n sweat 'em back into service,...
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Old 11-23-2015, 04:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizzygone View Post
Just curious: I know you can remove a copper fitting with heat, assuming the line is void of water..... But is it safe to replace a fitting this way?

What I'm looking to do is add a tee to our copper line to add some PEX. There's a 90 elbow conveniently close to where I want to be: could I just sweat the existing fitting off, and add a tee there? Or would it be inadvisable since the joints there are already tinned over? (Just trying to limit the amount of cutting I need to do....)
As a DIYer who has only been sweating copper fittings for a couple years, I just unsoldered, replaced and resoldered a few fittings this weekend. Went well as long as you can twist your old fitting off. Heat it up, and twist the old fitting and once you can twist it back and forth, keep twisting and pulling until it comes off.

Then, as others have said, right away, wipe the old solder off. By the time you set down the old fitting in a safe place where nobody will get burned, and hold your torch off to the side or turn it off, and grab a rag to wipe the old solder, it may have already hardened. So just reheat it and wipe it off.

Lots of good YouTube videos on how to sweat copper. Also buy an extra fitting or two in case you need to redo them, since you're new to it all.

People pay extra to buy pre-tinned fittings, so some would see that as an advantage on your project.
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:48 PM   #11
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I appreciate the confidence boost!

I'll have a little issue twisting, but i figured I'd undo a few clamps to give me a bit more leverage.
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:48 PM   #12
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I appreciate the confidence boost!

I'll have a little issue twisting, but i figured I'd undo a few clamps to give me a bit more leverage.
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