How to Unscrew Rusty Water Pipes

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Metal plumbing pipes don't always age well. Over time, the threads on your pipe may suffer from rust, corrosion, or mineral buildup, all of which can make unscrewing a threaded pipe extremely difficult. Fortunately, there are a couple of tricks you can try to loosen the pipe before you call in a plumber.

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How to Unscrew Rusty Pipes With Wrenches

Sometimes, all you need to loosen a pipe is a little more leverage. To get it, you can try applying two wrenches or pairs of pliers to the pipes and giving them a twist. Sliding the handle of a wrench into a metal breaker bar can provide some extra power if you need it.

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  1. Turn off the water and drain the pipes.

  2. Squeeze a pair of pliers or adjustable wrenches onto the pipe, placing one on each side of the joint. Keep your tools as close to the joint as possible.

  3. Hold one of the wrenches still while you twist the other one to unscrew it. If that fails, you can try turning both wrenches in opposite directions at the same time.

  4. Remove your wrenches or pliers and then tap the stuck plumbing joint with a rubber mallet. This will sometimes loosen the corrosion.

  5. Reapply your wrenches and try again after giving the plumbing a few taps with the mallet.

  6. Spray the plumbing liberally with a penetrating oil, like Liquid Wrench.

  7. Allow the pipe to soak for a few minutes and then grab your wrenches and try again.

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How to Unscrew Rusty Pipes With Heat

Applying a bit of heat to stubborn pipes can help loosen corrosion and soften any plumber's dope that might be holding things together. When doing this, work with extreme caution. If you're applying heat after trying a penetrating lubricant, thoroughly remove the lubricant before proceeding, as many penetrating oils are flammable.

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  1. Turn off the water and clear as much water from the pipes as possible.

  2. Clean away any penetrating lubricants on your pipes if you tried using them before busting out the torch.

  3. Use a small propane torch, heat gun, or hair dryer to warm the pipe. Focus on the edge of the pipe, applying uniform heat all around the joint. Continue only until the pipe is just hot. You don't need it glowing cherry red.

  4. Apply an adjustable wrench to each side of the joint and twist them in opposite directions. You may need to repeat this process several times.

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How to Remove Rusty Pipes

If your attempts at loosening the rusty pipe have failed so far, you have a choice to make. You can call a plumber or cut the fused pipes apart and replace them yourself. Fortunately, a SharkBite connector can help you easily put your plumbing pipes back together if you opt for a little plumbing adventure.

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  1. Turn off the water and drain your pipes.

  2. Cut out the stubborn section of pipe with a pipe cutter. Don't go at the pipes with a hacksaw, as these leave a jagged edge that can damage your SharkBite and cause a leak.

  3. Deburr the cut ends of the old pipe and the ends of the new pipe or connector you're installing. Wipe down each pipe end with a cloth after deburring to remove any debris.

  4. Measure and mark the depth so you know how far onto the pipe to push your connector. You can do this with a SharkBite tool or by using the depth chart on its website.

  5. Push the SharkBite onto the end of the new pipe and then onto the cut end of the old pipe.

  6. Turn the water back on and check your plumbing repair for leaks.

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