I currently have old radiators and connected 1/2" copper pipes that were painted in grey color long time ago (assuming when heating was put in place). One pipe has developed a leak and need to replace about a foot or so.

I'm going to be using push-in SharkBite coupling. How to I clean the paint off copper pipe?

  • I don't think the color of the paint is relevant to the answer. Sep 29, 2016 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


You ask:

How to I clean the paint out of copper pipe?

I have to presume that you really mean "off of the copper pipe".

Paint can be removed from the copper pipe using steel wool. A course style will be better to begin with and follow up with a finer style to nicely shine up the copper pipe.

If the paint is extra thick you could try removing a good bit of it first using a sharp utility knife to peel most of it off the pipe.

Jell type paint remover is another option to soften the old paint but that option comes with its own set of extra concerns with odor and caustic nature when handling it.

With any type of paint removal like this it is highly advisable to question the possibility as to whether the paint is a lead bearing type. If so you need to take proper precautions with respect to any dust and debris created as a part of the paint removal.

  • 1
    I would not suggest using a utility knife to scrape off the paint. The blade of the knife is far too hard compared to the relatively soft copper. A good nick in the pipe is all that is needed to cause the sharkbite fitting to leak. Instead, use a flat-bladed screwdriver to gently scrape it. Remove as much as you can with the screwdriver, and then use some plumber's sandpaper to clean it up the rest of the way. You can also cook the paint off using a torch. Sep 29, 2016 at 14:38
  • @JasonHutchinson - I did not suggest using the utility knife to "scrape" off the paint. The word I used was <b>peel</b>. By that I mean a action with the blade edge virtually parallel with the surface of the pipe. With rigid copper pipe this should allow the paint to be peeled off on thin stripes with little chance of damaging the pipe itself.
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:44
  • A strip of emery cloth or sandpaper (such as a broken 1" sanding belt) may be faster and more effective than steel wool, IME.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 29, 2016 at 16:06

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