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I am trying to replace an old outdoor spigot that is soldered to a copper pipe. I will put in place a fitting that will give me a thread so I can attach (screw in) a ball valve.

All the instructions that I see show either how to remove or how to install a new one (by cutting the old pipe) I can not find any indication about not having to cut the pipe. Is that mandatory?

Edit: Thanks guys! I got the job done this evening, after some small troubles.. The original spigot came off quite easy. This was my first soldering ever. I cleaned the pipe and the fitting properly, I added flux and I proceeded with the soldering. What nobody tells you is that if you use a threaded fitting you need to anticipate the position of the ball valve and olny after that you need to proceed with the soldering. That is way I soldered it wrong and I had to remove the fitting and to do it again. The first attempt was leaky and I added too much solder. The next one went better and no leakss this time!!

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It's fine as long as the copper you're soldering to is bright and clean. When you make a cut you just get a new edge, but it's the outer surface of the pipe, not the edge, that the solder bonds to.

De-solder the old spigot, clean up the pipe with some light sandpaper or emery cloth, and solder away. There's plenty of YouTube videos on the process if you're new to it, but it's not too tough if you're careful and take your time.

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It's not mentioned in instructions because a professional wouldn't do it that way if they had a choice.

  • You need to get the water out of the line to heat it enough to melt the solder. That's easy enough when the pipe has been cut apart, but less so when you open the valve several inches away.

  • While heating, the pipe will get soft and you risk deforming it if you apply lots of torque to remove the fixture.

  • To apply the torque, you'll need some pliers since the pipe will be very hot from the blow torch. Trying to juggle pliers, a blow torch, and a very hot fixture with melting solder coming off of it is asking for trouble.

  • Once removed, you need to clean the threads of any solder and corrosion to be usable again.

That last part will take a lot of time to do right. In the interest of time, and to do the job right, professionals will cut the pipe a short distance back and replace it with new pipe. As a favor to the next person behind you, I'd recommend using pipe dope on the threaded connection rather than solder. This way the fixture can simply be unscrewed and replaced without a blow torch and opening up the walls.

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This answer by @Tester101 says that you can desolder, clean, and resolder a pipe fitting without cutting.

I would also follow his advice of practicing on spare parts before doing the real deal.

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