How Do I Loosen Galvanized Pipe

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by rckowal, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. rckowal

    rckowal New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm updating the kitchen sink in our 40 year old house. Naturally, the drain locations on the new sink will be totally different than the old one. This requires that I undo a portion of the existing wall pipe (which drains into an iron stack within the wall).

    Between the wall & sink trap there are 3 pieces of 1 1/2" galvanized pipe and a couple of black (I believe iron) elbows; which were sealed with white (lead?) pipe dope. If I can get one of the galvanized pipes to unscrew from the iron elbow, then connecting the new sink will be fairly easy.

    The hard part is how do I break the old, probably frozen, threads loose without breaking some thing else? I have done a bit of this in the past so I'm aware that old pipe can some times be fragile. Are there any good ways to loosen these threads before starting to put a big pipe wrench on them?

    Your help here will be very much appreciated.

    Richard
  2. propane torch

    the safest way to get them apart is to heat
    the joint with a torch...

    if you heat the joint to red hot,
    usually the nipples will usually
    come out of the joint pretty easily.

    with a wrench on the joint and one on the
    offending nipple.....

    just dont set the place on fire
    or lay the hot pipe somewhere wher eit
    might do damage.
  3. dubldare

    dubldare Plumber/Gasfitter

    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    MN/ND
    A sawzall can very easily cut the pipe off where you want it. A mission band will allow you to transition from the galvanized (durham) pipe into an easier to use plastic.

    Much easier and safer than a torch.
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,396
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Sometimes a cheater bar on a big pipe wrench is needed. I recently disassembled a 3/4" galvanized irrigation pipe from an elbow. Even after heating and using penetrating oil, I had to put a 4' pipe on the handle of a 24" pipe wrench and even then I had lean pretty hard to break the joint. Damn, I hate galvanized pipe!
  5. rckowal

    rckowal New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks to all for replying, your suggestions are very helpful.

    About how long might it take to heat 1 1/2" pipe to "red hot"? I would be using a Bernzamatic torch with Mapp or butane gas. I also have 24" wrenches and a cheater if it's needed.

    Transitioning to plastic sounds interesting. It would sure make the rest of the installation (double bowl sink with disposal) a lot easier too. What kind of Sawzall cuts 1 1/2" galvanized? Will a garden variety work or does it take a bigger one? I'm sure it takes a metal cutting blade but how heavy is the blade, how fine a tooth & how many blades? I also have a 4 1/2" abrasive wheel grinder with cutoff wheels but it would take multiple cuts to get through 1 1/2" pipe.

    Best regards, Richard
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,416
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The fitting is heated to expand it, making the pipe fit looser in the fitting.

    If you heat the pipe, then that expands and gets tighter.

    Cutting galvanized can be done with an 18 tooth per inch blade.
  7. rckowal

    rckowal New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks for the reply Terry, it's much appreciated. Your forum is very helpful as well. I've decided to cutoff the 1 1/2" galvanized wall pipe then transition from it's stub to plastic tubing for the sink.

    [​IMG]


    So I can have enough reciprocating saw (Sawzall) blades on hand when I start to cut the galvanized; about how many blades will it take to get through the galvanized?

    Best regards, Richard
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2007
  8. kordts

    kordts In the Trades

    Messages:
    551
    Location:
    exurban Chicago
    One blade will make a couple of cuts. I had a job the other day where the 50 year old galvanised arm to the tub trap had eaten away. It was under the slab. I had to kneel under the kitchen countertop and hammer up the floor. My 24" wrench wouldn't budge the pipe. I sawed off the pipe at the hub and used a small chisel to peel the 1/2" of threads out. The line was clogged and the kitchen sink, tub, and lav had been draining out the pipe and into the tub box for a couple of years. It was Vicks in the nostrils time. I still almost puked when I had to bail the sludge out with a coffee cup.
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