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Plumbing Repair: 3 Tips for Soldering Off Pipes When You Can't Cut Them Off

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If you've tried cutting the plumbing to no success due to the cut needing to be made at an awkward angle or other conditions and circumstances, you can consider soldering off the pipes with a propane torch instead. Although it's wise to leave this type of work to professionals, you can actually easily attempt and get the job done yourself if you have the right type of equipment at home, like a propane torch. If you've decided that you're going to solder off the pipes instead of cutting them off, here are three tips you should really keep in mind.

Have a Wet Rag Handy

After you heat up the pipes, they will become molten. You want to have a wet rag handy at this time to quickly wipe up the molten solder before it hardens. This will allow you to get as much of the molten smolder off as possible so you don't have a messy situation on your hands. If you don't wipe up the molten solder quickly enough, it will drip onto the floor underneath. The solder will then harden and become nearly impossible to remove. Just in case, place a piece of newspaper or a towel underneath your work area to catch any drips.

You want to wipe off as much molten solder as possible while trying to create a smooth surface on the pipe. This is particularly important if you plan on attaching a new fitting later on. Bring a small bucket along with cool water. Submerge the rag inside the bucket of water until it is needed.  

Wear Protective Gear to Prevent Injuries

Although the job seems easy enough, you'd be surprised at just how easy it is to injure yourself. You'd be surprised to know just how easily you can burn yourself from the flame if you're not paying attention or being careful enough. You don't want to end up having to take a trip to the hospital, so be prepared and wear protective gear to prevent injuries. You should wear a thick pair of protective safety gloves and also consider putting on a pair of safety goggles when working with propane torches. You never know when and if things will go flying.

If you don't have any protective gear or are not aware of how to properly heat up and solder a pipe, leave the job to professionals whenever you can. You want to limit your chances of getting injured.

Remove Excess Solder with Sandpaper

No matter how quick you are with the wet rag, some of the excess solder is still going to build up on the surface of the pipes where it was removed or disconnected. Before attaching a new fitting, remove excess solder with sandpaper. This will not only give you a better fit but will also ensure that the new fitting will last for much longer without wearing down prematurely.

You can use many different tools to remove the excess solder. Using various grades of sandpaper will help you get the job done quickly and slowly refine the final product. You want to work with a coarser sandpaper to begin with in order to remove the larger pieces of excess solder that is still clinging onto the pipes. After you've sanded the solder down, use a finer grade of sandpaper to polish and buff the surface of the pipes.


Soldering off unneeded pipes can make your life a lot easier than having to cut them open. In the event that you believe soldering the pipes will be a better decision, you'll need to make sure you have the right tools around. If you're not comfortable with working with your hands, a professional plumber, such as one from Abbey Plumbing & HVAC, LLC, can easily get the job done for you.