Just had the house re-plumbed with PEX because of acidic water erosion. The
plumbers cut off and left the old copper pipe stubs protruding about an inch
from the drywall behind toilets and sinks. A much larger hole would have to
be made in the drywall in order to amputate these with a mini tube cutter
behind the drywall prior to patching the drywall. Internal pipe cutters
that I've seen are too large for 1/2 inch copper. Google search didn't turn
up anything readily.
Is there a better way ? Surely I'm not the first to encounter this problem.
You've got a couple holes to patch, anyway...I'd just cut a even section
out, cut the pipe off and then replace the patch. If you don't get the
pipes out of the hole it would be hard to keep the patch from cracking
around them anyway.
Too bad you can't just torch the ends of the stubs and get them hot
enough to melt the solder where they go into in elbows which are
probably located just behind the drywall. Then you could twist them out
with Vise-Grips while the solder was molten.
The risk of starting fire to something flammable inside the wall is too
great for me to suggest doing that, so don't try it.
But, maybe a BMF electric soldering iron with an extra long tip in it
just fitting the id of 1/2" copper??? Nah, also too risky.
Sorry I couldn't help,
Nooooooooo, don't even think about it.
Recently had to replace a section of tubing with a hole. Unsweating the
exposed end caused enough heat blasting through the 1/8" hole on the other
end to start the stud on fire. It ran right up the wall to the firestop.
Caught it quick but the potential was there for a serious house fire.
1. Dremel MotoTool and saw blade bit small enough to fit inside pipe.
2. Grab pipe with needle nose Vise Grips and point torch down center of
pipe, keep pulling on pliers till heat softens solder. If your house
catches fire doing this I'm not the person giving you this advice :-)
Bite the bullet and do it right. Buy a busted piece of drywall for a buck at
the yard, and cut out a few 16" (or whatever your stud spacing is) by 12"
patches. Cut out the old drywall the same size, cut off or hammer over the
abandoned pipes, and nail/tape/mud/paint your patches. You have already
spent more time researching this than the repair would have taken. The
square nailed patch will blend in much better than mudded-over holes ever
Please don't take this as a flame, it really isn't. I know how easy it is to
get caught up in trying to find the 'easy' way to do something, when doing
it the traditional way is really easier.
What goes through my mind. You say there is a stub of copper. But, what's
the vertical pipe in the wall? Is the rest of the pipe galv, or what? Seems
as though that needs to be answered.
I presume you think the short section of copper might corrode and leak?
No water concerns; just want to get rid of the protruding stubs before
patching the drywall holes. Could care less about the tubing remnant left
inside the wall.
I tried the Dremel tool approach using one of Harbor Freight's diamond
wasn't optimistic, given copper's galling characteristics, but it worked
like a charm, no copper plating on the disc at all, worked beest at the
highest rpm. Just gripped the stub with a needle nose pliers to steady it
and pull it as far out as the remnant of vertical riser tube would permit.
Two cautions: 1) wear a dust mask and goggles, as the cutter throws a
surprising amount of gypsum dust when, not if, you slip and contact the
surrounding drywall and 2) be very careful not to slip badly enough to
damage the new water line or fitting with the cutting disc. Finally, push
the tubing remnant back into the hole far enough to be below the surface of
the drywall compound patch.
Plan B was to use a 3-inch hole saw on an 18-inch extension from a half-inch
electric drill to cut an eccentric hole in the drywall for hand access (I
have fairly small hands). Then reach inside the wall with a mini tubing
cutter to cut the pipe. Didn't try it since I prefer patching small drywall
holes to patching large ones (less obvious and you can put off the
Thanks to all who responded. Though I was really hoping to unearth some,
possible obscure, specialized plumbing tool designed for the purpose. Might
be a niche market for some enterprising inventor/manufacturer; even if it
doesn't incorporate a slip-joint :-)
The Dremel is a good way to go
get a countersink that is large enough to consume the copper tube, chew
it back into the wall until you're satisfied
a large rotary burr in a die grinder
slit the tube in a couple places with a hack saw blade & then using a
hammer & small chisel, fold the tube wall back into itself.
How about this-
With a Sawzall, cut through the drywall and into the old copper pipe above
and below the stub and it will fall into the wall cavity (or you can pull
it out). You'll only have the stub's hole and two sawcut lines to patch.
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