I cut a 1/2" copper pipe to insert a tee fitting a which will eventually go to a Pex line for an outdoor tap. The copper pipe was vertical, and when I completed the cut I found that the pipe was actually under tension. The top half of the pipe moved, and now the pipes are not exactly in a straight line. I can still position the two halves in a fitting, but each pipe wants to force the fitting in a different direction. Let's say the bottom one is basically plumb but the top half wants to rest at about 10 degrees from vertical. I hesitate to solder it in this position. Can I still get a good seal when I have to force the pipes to work with the fitting?

I can't change either pipe -- they are close to the main shutoff valve. I also don't want to introduce a pressure drop for the whole house by replacing the section with Pex. (Really wish the house had 3/4" pipes.) I was able to patch it up with Sharkbite for now. Sharkbite is more tolerant of the pipes not being plumb than an inflexible copper fitting.

Should I try to bend the top pipe to force it to be vertically? Is there a safe way to do this copper? Or maybe I would be better off cutting the top pipe in a second place and soldering another fitting to get a better match?

  • Is there a point along the non-plumb pipe that can be manipulated to make the pipe closer to plumb? For example is there a horizontal section that is sagging since you cut the pipe? If so you may be able to clamp the sagging section, causing you pipe to be closer to plumb.
    – Tester101
    Aug 31, 2011 at 11:55
  • @Tester101 Yes there is a horizontal section, 90 degree elbow and then the vertical drop that is out of plumb. The vertical section is actually out of plumb with vertical and is also not quite in the plane that contains the horizontal pipe, so it would need some tinkering. I had considering adjusting this section but, then I might have two problems.
    – jbarlow
    Aug 31, 2011 at 19:11
  • It would be best to take a picture or at least indicate how much force is required to line the pipes up. If they are even remotely loose, yeah, go for it... but if you have to strain to get them to line up, then I'd find a way to secure the pipe or move the existing pipe hangers in such a way to make them line up better. There are lots of products for this purpose, not just two-hole straps. See, for example, bell hangers. If two-hole straps won't do the trick, don't worry... it CAN be done somehow. Picture would help.
    – Michael
    Sep 1, 2011 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


The safest way to bend a copper pipe is to use a pipe bending spring. They come in sizes to fit the diameter your pipe so you'll need two - one for each type of pipe. The spring stops the pipe kinking by supplying support to the inner part of the bend.

Simply slide the spring up the pipe, bend it and then work the spring out.

  • I think I will try this out. Looks like they are also called tube bending springs.
    – jbarlow
    Aug 31, 2011 at 19:12

To resist hammering and to get the pipes to align, you should really have them clamped down with tube straps close to the top of the wall and close to the fitting. This should hold things in place well enough for you to get the fitting in, and will help support the fitting.

Example of strapping:

Copper Tube Straps

If you need to, screw/nail an extra chunk of 2x4 to the inside of the stud and then strap the copper tube to that 2x4.

  • 2
    Just a tip on these - look for a local plumbing supply company. Home Depot will charge you $1.00 or more per strap last I looked, while our own local supply company sells them for $0.16 ea. Aug 31, 2011 at 19:45
  • 1
    Also note that it is good to use copper nails with these copper straps to avoid galvanic corrosion. May 6, 2012 at 22:50
  • Personally I think this is a very good approach. A properly soldered joint should be quite strong and the strapping to keep it stable will help to protect the joint. Aug 11, 2019 at 6:29

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