I have found a leak coming from under my refrigerator, after pulling it out to get behind it I found the 1/4" copper pipe that supplies the water for the ice maker and water in the door was severed badly. The pipe was attached to the wall behind the refrigerator with a piece of metal bent around it and then screwed into the wall. It possible that this metal severed the pipe when I had the refrigerator pulled out to paint over the weekend which caused the small leak, then pulling out the refrigerator again to check for the leak caused the cut to get bigger.

Anyway, I now have a 1/4" copper water line that is about 75-80% severed. I feel like the best way to fix this would be to make a clean cut on either side of the break and rejoin the pipe, but how would I go about doing that?

3 Answers 3


I'd use a small tubing cutter to cut tidy/clean ends on both ends of the 1/4" copper pipe ...


... cutting off whatever portions of the 1/4" copper pipe are kinked or deformed. I'd then slip on a compression fitting called a 'union' ...

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... which requires tightening with a pair of wrenches. Wikipedia has a general article on compression fittings here. You-tube hosts a concise 3 minute how-to video regarding installing compression fittings on plastic or copper pipe. The copper tubing portion of the demo starts at 1:45 ...


Small tubing cutters such as the one pictured above will cut diameters 1/4", 1/2" and 3/4" and anything in between. The small size of that cutter design makes it excellent for tight confines. It would be the first one I'd buy for my tool box. You could also use a medium size cutter, such as the one used in this 90 second tutorial ...


The small cutter works in the same way. There are two main points to keep in mind when using either of these tubing cutters ...

1) Tighten the cutter only a little bit each time, making a number of light scores around the pipe instead of several deep ones.

2) The cutter wheel needs to continually track in the previous score, so keep a close eye on the score and make sure the score is not spiraling along the length of the 1/4" copper pipe, which can happen if the pipe is bent or deformed in the area where the cutter is being used.

After the cuts are completed, the cut ends of the 1/4" pipe need to be very close to circular (for example, not deformed into an oval). If they are not circular, then even if the ferrules can be forced onto the 1/4" copper pipe, the fitting will leak. If the ferrules do not slip on easily, it might be due to the ends of the 1/4" pipe being out-of-round, or (unlikely) due to defective ferrules. Using a tubing cutter will help ensure the cut ends of the 1/4" copper pipe are circular.

Alternatively, a hacksaw (or similar) can be used to cut clean ends on the 1/4" pipe. This will likely result in ends with sharp edges and a burr. Remove these with sandpaper. Clean ends will allow the ferrules slip on without gauging, which would lead to a leak. A fine-toothed file can be used instead of sandpaper, but the copper dust/shavings will most likely clog the teeth of the file.

Here is a 7 minute how-to video from England regarding leaks at compression fittings:



I would start by doing what the previous poster suggested by using a tubing cutter to remove any deformed tubing. I would then use "Shark Bite" fittings to join the two ends. Shark Bites are universal fittings that just push on. With them, you can join copper to copper, copper to PVC, Copper to pex, PVC to pex, etc. They are a bit expensive, but are quick, easy, and most importantly, they work. If you pipe ends up too short after trimming, you can just use an extra Shark Bite and an extra length of pipe.


There ya go.

  • An anonymous user says: "Sharkbite does not recommend their product for soft copper tubing."
    – Mazura
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 2:43
  • Curious, I looked all over their site and could not find anything like that. Maybe I didn't look long enough. It makes me wonder why it works for PEX and not soft copper.
    – Jack
    Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 4:01

I learned today that sharkbite is not rated for use on soft copper. Typical refrigeration installation uses 1/4” soft copper. Ref: https://www.sharkbite.com/resources/faqs/universal-brass-push-fittings-faqs

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