Taking Apart Soldered Copper Joints
If you find that a soldered copper joint is leaking when full water pressure is applied to the line, the soldered joint will have to be removed. Though a relatively simple process, it is imperative that you replace the old joint with a new one to enable it to properly work again. Here are some easy steps to follow to take apart your soldered copper joint:
Step 1 - Turn off the Water
Shut off the water at the main valve and drain the pipes by turning the highest and lowest faucets on. Place a bucket below the fitting to catch any additional water that may come out when you remove the pipe.
Step 2 - Be Safe
Put on your safety glasses. It is very important to protect your eyes when working with a propane torch or any tools.
Step 3 - Begin Melting the Solder
Put the heat resistant cloth behind the soldered joint in an effort to prevent a fire. Light the propane torch and adjust it to the hottest flame possible. Hold the flame against the copper fitting until the point that the solder begins to melt. Make sure that you are aiming the torch at the fitting and not inside the fitting so as not to melt the pipe on accident.
Keep the water spray bottle on hand in case a fire starts so that you can quickly put it out. Also, a fire extinguisher or just a bucket of water work well to keep on hand in case of fire; whatever the method, you need to have some means to put out a fire should one start.
Step 4 - Remove the Pipe From the Solder
Hold the copper fitting with the water-pump pliers and move the fitting before it releases from the copper piping. If it sticks, twist is about a quarter of the pipe to work it free from the solder. Be careful not to squeeze the copper fitting too tightly so that you don’t damage the copper piping.
Step 5 - Remove the Old Solder
Heat the ends of the copper pipe with the propane torch to melt and remove the old solder. Carefully wipe away any solder with your dry rag. Take care not to burn yourself when wiping the solder away from the pipe.
Step 6 - Sand the Copper Pipe
Using the emery cloth, sand about an inch up the ends of the copper pipe and make sure there is no dust or grease left. The copper pipe is now prepared for re-soldering. Do not re-use your old copper fitting when you re-solder the joint.
Soldered copper joints can't stand in your way any more. Now you can take them apart yourself!