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I have two outdoor faucets that I need to replace.

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These are attached to some gnarly old pipes (cast iron?) and I've not been able to remove the faucets with gentle pressure. Is grabbing a pipe wrench and hauling on these as bad idea as I think? I'd appreciate ideas on how to remove these without destroying the pipes in the process.

I'm a newish homeowner and don't have a lot of plumbing experience, but working on expanding my knowledge. I've searched through this forum as well as browsed through tons of YouTube videos, but haven't found any good how to guides.

  • I edited your question to size and inline your pictures. Makes the question even more useful. – Michael Karas May 14 '17 at 3:17
  • Both faucets have parallel flats for wrenching with say a large parallel jaw adjustable wrench. You will need one pipe wrench to grip the pipe connector. Usually you would use a suitably large adjustable ('Crescent') wrench to grip the valve. You could use a second pipe wrench to grip the valves but a crescent wrench is easier to use.. – Jim Stewart May 14 '17 at 16:16
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AFIK a water supply pipe would not be 'cast iron'. Older water supply systems were made of galvanized steel with threaded joints. (Drain systems in the walls were made of cast iron, but the joints between sections of drain pipe were not threaded but rather packed and sealed with lead.)

The more modern supply systems were copper tubing joined by soldered joints so called 'sweated' joints. Outside faucets would oftentimes be threaded onto a brass or copper fitting which was sweated onto the copper tubing and transitioned to normal pipe threads (NPT) either male or female. The threaded end of this transition was also called 'iron pipe' even though the fitting was made of brass. The designation of these terminations would be MIP or FIP, respectively, for male and female terminations.

In my house the outside faucets are fed by 1/2" copper tubing and I sweated on 1/2" FIP fittings so I could replace the faucets by unscrewing them and not have to get out the torch and solder. These threaded connections do require sealing with 'pipe dope' or Teflon water pipe sealing tape.

If you have galvanized steel piping you will need a pipe wrench to hold the pipe and prevent it from turning and another wrench to unscrew the faucet. (The second wrench would not have to be a pipe wrench, but could be, although a pipe wrench takes a little practice to learn how to use.) You do not want the pipe to turn because this would loosen a joint further back and could cause a leak in the wall. To use a pipe wrench correctly takes a little practice and understanding if you have never used one before. A pipe wrench is asymmetric and must be oriented properly to clamp onto the pipe. Look this up.

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You'll want a pair of pipe wrenches, one for the fitting and one to hold the pipe. Provided you've got both securely in place you need only be moderately careful cranking on it. Don't go crazy jumping up and down on the wrench, don't pull unless you've got a firm grip on the one holding the pipe, etc. Most plumbers keep long wrenches in the truck; in the worst case a pipe over the handle provides excellent leverage.

The key concept to keep in mind is that a pipe wrench should be in contact with three sides of the pipe at all times. Otherwise the jaws of the wrench will deform the pipe when they compress.

In your particular application you can also try the "blue wrench." If you have a torch available try heating the connection, which often breaks corrosion loose. You're pretty fortunate that there's no nearby soldered connections or wooden structure so you can bake the hell out of it. (Though if you weren't discarding the faucets the washers deforming would be a concern.)

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When using 2 pipe wrenches, 1st. try to tighten (just a tad amount) the fitting you want to remove. Move it just a very slight amount, to break the seal, (the path of least resistance is in the direction the pipes were turned when installing).2nd, try turning the fitting the correct way after you have broken the joint loose using step 1. If you can't get it loose call a friend or plumber to help before you break the pipe and cause a large expense. There is always a neighbor like me that is willing to help. If the pipe is turned off somewhere up stream, you could try heating the fitting first, then use the pipe wrenches.

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Well, i haven't done too much plumbing but if you have enough room to use two pipe wrenches you could try and hold the pipe with one and turn the faucet with the other. You could even try some wd40 type of spray. Spray and let sit for a while and try later. Hope this helps.

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    I am not so sure I would put WD40 any where near where there is a potable water supply. – Michael Karas May 14 '17 at 3:19
  • Thanks for the suggestion and concern about WD40. I'm going to pick up some proper penetrating oil as my first attempt at some basic two wrench twisting hasn't budged these things. – David F. Severski May 14 '17 at 19:57
  • There is surely pipe dope on the threads so penetrating oil will not move into the threads. At least on the second faucet (the one with out the hose on it) try the following technique: Get an adjustable wrench at the 9 o'clock position tight on the hexagonal wrenching faces on the valve. Secure a pipe wrench from below on the end flange of the FIP connector at the 8 o'clock position. With heavy gloves on squeeze the two wrenches together. This will torque the valve CCW relative to the connector and may break it loose. – Jim Stewart May 15 '17 at 3:40

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