How To Loosen Copper Pipe Fittings: A Step-By-Step Guide

How to Join and Loosen Galvanized Pipe Fittings
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Copper pipe fittings are commonly used in plumbing systems due to their durability and resistance to corrosion. However, there may be instances when you need to loosen or remove these fittings, such as when making repairs or upgrades. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to loosen copper pipe fittings effectively.

Tools and Materials Needed

1. Adjustable Wrench

An adjustable wrench is a versatile tool that allows you to grip and turn different sizes of pipe fittings.

2. Pipe Wrench

A pipe wrench provides a firmer grip on larger fittings and is useful when dealing with stubborn or tightly sealed connections.

3. Penetrating Oil

Penetrating oil helps to lubricate and loosen corroded or stuck fittings, making them easier to remove.

4. Clean Cloth

A clean cloth can be used to wipe away any excess oil or debris during the loosening process.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare the Work Area

Before attempting to loosen copper pipe fittings, it is important to prepare the work area. This involves turning off the water supply to the affected area and ensuring there is no pressure in the pipes.

Step 2: Apply Penetrating Oil

Using a clean cloth, apply a generous amount of penetrating oil to the fitting. Make sure the oil reaches the threads and any other areas where there might be corrosion or resistance.

Step 3: Let the Oil Soak

Allow the oil to soak into the fitting for at least 15-20 minutes. This will give it enough time to penetrate and loosen any rust or debris that may be causing the fitting to stick.

Step 4: Use an Adjustable Wrench

Using an adjustable wrench, grip the fitting firmly and turn it counterclockwise. Apply steady pressure but avoid using excessive force to prevent damaging the pipe or fitting. If the fitting does not budge, proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Use a Pipe Wrench

If the fitting is still stuck, switch to a pipe wrench for a stronger grip. Position the wrench around the fitting and adjust it until it securely locks in place. Slowly apply pressure in a counterclockwise direction to loosen the fitting.

Step 6: Apply Heat

If the fitting remains stubbornly stuck, you can use heat to expand the metal and break the corrosion. Carefully apply heat to the fitting using a propane torch or heat gun. Be cautious and avoid overheating to prevent damage to the surrounding area.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 4 and 5

Once the fitting has been heated, use the adjustable wrench and pipe wrench again to attempt loosening. The combination of heat and continued pressure should help break the seal.

Step 8: Clean the Threads

After successfully loosening the fitting, clean the threads on both the fitting and the pipe using a wire brush. This will remove any remaining debris or corrosion, ensuring a proper seal when reassembling.

Step 9: Apply New Thread Tape or Pipe Compound

Before reassembling, apply a fresh layer of thread tape or pipe compound to the threads. This will help create a tight and leak-free connection.

Step 10: Reassemble and Test

Finally, reassemble the fitting by turning it clockwise with your hands. Once it is snug, use the adjustable wrench to give it a final quarter turn. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. Congratulations, you have successfully loosened a copper pipe fitting!


Loosening copper pipe fittings may seem challenging, but by following these steps and using the right tools, you can successfully remove stubborn or corroded fittings. Remember to exercise caution, especially when applying heat, and always check for leaks after reassembling. With a little patience and the proper technique, you’ll be able to tackle any plumbing project that requires loosening copper pipe fittings.