In my basement I have copper water pipes that look like they hooked up to an old shower. Now they don't hook up to anything. I want to prune these pipes where they come off the main water line (so I can put a deep freezer in their place) but I've never done anything like that before.

Google tells me I have two options for pipe fittings: sweating or compression fittings. I want something more or less permanent but I don't to buy extra tools I may not need again for a long time, plus if I can avoid open flames I'd like to, etc. Are compression caps available and suitable for this kind of thing?

PS Can I cut copper pipe with an angle grinder or should I buy a pipe cutter?

Resolution: Thanks for all the advice! In the end I went with a pushfit cap made by SharkBite:

alt text

I also bought a handheld, handleless pipe cutter for $7. I shut off the water, cut the pipe, popped on the cap, and turned the water back on. Worked like a charm. The whole job took 20 minutes and cost about $11.

I'll look forward to learning to sweat connections another time. For a casual plumber like me, pushfit fittings cost about 10 times as much as soldering and so worth it.

  • Do make sure that you arrange something so that you'll know if they start to leak - I don't know what's going to happen to those caps after 15-20 years in place. If you can just keep things arranged to notice a leak, then you'll be fine. Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 3:02
  • 2
    And, it's fine, as long as it's indoors. Outdoors the sharkbite plastic will degrade.
    – Bryce
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 3:50

4 Answers 4


Compression caps are available and suitable, but you do need to be fairly careful when fitting them that you tighten the joint just the right amount. You also need a reasonable amount of room to be able to turn the spanner/wrench.

Soldering will give you the most professional result and can be done in a fairly confined space - as long as you take the necessary precautions to avoid scorching/burning the surroundings.

If you really can't face the thought of soldering the joints then you can get push fit end caps that work very well. You need to make sure you've got a smooth, straight end to get a good fit, so a pipe cutter is the preferred cutting method. You can use a hacksaw, but you will need to then use emery paper on the end to remove the burr.


I think you should definitily go with sweating. It is very easy(even though open flames from a torch might seem intimidating) and is more reliable than compression fittings. Plus, installing a cap is one of the easiest things to do, so it will be a good practice to learn a new skill.

You can also achieve a pretty clean cut with a hacksaw, if you dont want to invest in a pipe cutter.


"Copper Tube Glue" works well on both cold and hot water. I used the Glue up against a floor joist where there was just no room for me to sweat solder; it's still leak free 15 years later. Clean everything as you would for soldering, then glue it.

  • 1
    How would you use this to cap water pipes like the OP asked?
    – Niall C.
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 0:32

A compression fitting "stop end cap" should handle this, just search for it at a decent hardware or plumbing supply store.

Just make sure you get the proper size for your pipe. A clean cut is required, so I wouldn't recommend trying the angle grinder.

Soldering is probably a more reliable solution, but requires tools, some flame and some practice. If you think you might be doing more plumbing in the future, it's not a bad investment -- a torch, some flux, and solder can be purchased for around $45.

  • You should edit your original answer and undelete it rather than posting a brand new answer.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 16:32
  • 1
    a compact tubing cutter can be purchased for under 10 bucks. It will give you a nice clean cut. I agree that if you can sweat the cap on, it will be better, however screw on compression fittings are available at any Lowe's or HD. Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 19:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.