Compression fittings are not designed to be removed once they are attached. In order for them to work properly, they must be tight enough to make removal very difficult, if not impossible. If the fittings are removed, it is likely that the copper tubing where they were attached will be distorted so it cannot be reused. In most cases, you cut the tubing above the fitting and attach a new fitting on the uncompressed tubing. If you have no other choice, you can try to remove the compression fitting and reuse the tubing, but be prepared for minimal success.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Copper tubing with compression fitting
- Hacksaw or small tool with grinding disc (such as a Dremel tool)
- Wrench or lockjaw pliers
- Flat-tipped screwdriver
Unscrew the nut that goes over the compression fitting. You can get it free with a wrench or lockjaw pliers. If the nut is difficult to remove, spray it with lubricant. Be careful not to twist or kink the copper tubing while removing the nut. You should be able to slide the nut up the copper tubing away from the ferrule (the rounded, brass fitting that is clamped onto the copper tubing).
Pull the copper tubing with the attached ferrule to a position you can work on, if you can. It needs to be in a position that allows you to cut the ferrule without cutting the tubing.
Use a fine-toothed hacksaw blade or fine grinding disc on a small grinder to cut slowly through the ferrule.
Stop cutting the ferrule before it is cut all the way through. If you nick the copper tubing even a little, a new compression fitting will not seal.
Put a screwdriver into the slot you cut in the ferrule and twist it. Your goal is to pry the ferrule off, breaking the thin piece of brass holding the fitting together without denting or bending the copper tubing.
Tips and warnings
- If you need to reattach the tubing with a compression fitting, you can sometimes reuse the original compression fitting. Once you get the tubing free of the fitting to which it is attached, you can force a punch into the end of the tubing to expand the tubing and ferrule. To reuse it, you can reattach the tubing and ferrule to the fitting and re-tighten the compression nut.
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