How do you replace old copper pipes and fittings without soldering?
More importantly, can you do this without having a ton of money, time, or plumbing experience?
These questions came to me after noticing an old corroding copper shut-off valve in our basement ceiling. In the past, I’ve paid plumbers $90 to $160 to replace one-foot sections of copper pipe.
You can easily repair copper pipes and shutoff valves with the greatest plumbing supply ever: SharkBite push-fit pipe connectors.
I’ve used SharkBite products in several rental homes, as well as my own house, with no issues. A beginner at plumbing can use SharkBite pipe connectors and can eliminate the use of a plumbing contractor for basic repairs. I love my plumbers but if I can save a little money for my daughter’s college fund then I’m gonna do it.
If you know how to use a measuring tape, sharpie marker, and copper pipe cutter you can do this project.
Getting Started with Replacing Copper Pipes
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
- SharkBite shutoff valve
- SharkBite Slip End Fitting
- AutoCut copper pipe cutter
- Sharpie marker
- Measuring tape
- Extra copper pipe
- These Amazon affiliate links help support HRT…muchos gracias
I guarantee this is an easy task and you’ll be super happy with the results. If you don’t have time to do anything else you should watch the video because it shows you just how easy SharkBite fittings are to use.
Let’s dive in.
Removing the Old Shutoff Valve, Pipes & Fittings
First, shutoff the water to the house at the water main. Then drain the water from the lowest point.
I drain water from the pipes by turning on the water in the laundry tub. You’ll only need to do this for the cold water if the pipe you’re working on supplies the exterior of your home.
Grab a container that can collect the excess water coming from the pipe being cut.
SharkBite fittings need 1 inch of pipe to make a good connection. Keep this in mind when cutting out the old pipes and fittings.
The old corroded shutoff valve that needed to be replaced was in our basement ceiling between two joists. Even though I only needed 1 inch for the new SharkBite valve I measured 1 1/2 inches away from the joist to give some extra cushion. You can make a mark with a sharpie to indicate where you’d like to cut the copper pipe.
Use the AutoCut copper tubing cutter to make the first cut in the old copper pipe.
I LOVE this tool because all you need to do is snap it onto the old pipe, close the gate, and rotate until the cut is complete.
Water will drain from the first cut in the old pipe. Collect it in a small container.
Now it’s time to measure where the second cut needs to go.
In order to connect the new SharkBite shutoff valve to the old copper pipe, use a SharkBite Slip End fitting. This pipe connector is different than a traditional SharkBite. Slide the copper pipe into it by up to 3 inches. This is super useful when you need to replace pipes and connectors in the middle of a copper line run.
In my case, the old shutoff valve was sandwiched between two joists. I measured 1 1/2 inches away from the joist for the first cut.
For the second cut, I measured and made a mark 3 1/2 inches away from the second joist just left of the old valve. This ensured there would be plenty of room for the Slip End fitting.
Cut the copper pipe at this second mark using the AutoCut tool.
With the old shutoff valve and pipe removed, it’s time to use the SharkBites!!!
Using the Greatest Plumbing Supply Ever: SharkBite Push-Fit Pipe Connectors
Spot the end of the first cut you made and measure in 1 inch.
Make a mark with the sharpie.
Push the SharkBite shutoff valve onto the copper pipe until it fits snug and flush with the 1-inch sharpie mark.
These same shutoff valves can be used for shower mixing valves.
BAM!! You connected a shutoff valve in less than 1 minute.
The valve will rotate freely so don’t be alarmed or concerned that it isn’t properly installed.
Now it’s time to push on the Slip End fitting.
Look at the second cut you made in the copper pipe and measure in 1 inch.
Again, make a mark with the sharpie.
Push the Slip End fitting onto the copper pipe until it meets up with the sharpie mark.
Now measure the distance between the Slip End fitting and the shutoff valve. Add 2 inches to this measurement. This is the total length of copper pipe you need.
Watch this video to see just how easy this entire process is for even the very beginner (and no this isn’t a typo).
All of the supplies I used are for 1/2 inch copper pipe.
My plumber recommends using Type L copper because it has a thicker wall than Type M. You can see the type by looking on the side of the copper pipe.
One of our fans pointed something out: if your pipes are properly grounded the SharkBite will break that grounding effect.
You’ll have to add a copper jumper cable.
Attach the jumper cable to the copper pipes on the left and the right of the SharkBite fitting with clamps to ensure the pipe is re-grounded. Thanks, Scott for pointing this out!!!
SharkBites are awesome, especially if you have to fix a pinhole leak in a copper pipe.
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.
Replacing Copper Pipes, Sharkbites
There is one plumbing change I’ve been afraid to do but believe I could probably do on my own. When we purchased our house, it came with brand new appliances including a beautiful new fridge. One thing we didn’t realize until we’d moved in is that this beautiful new fridge with icemaker/water was not hooked up to any water line, nor was there a convenient water line running to the wall behind the refrigerator. Instead, the only water supply was clear across the room at the kitchen sink. I don’t know how to get the water from there to the fridge! I’ve seen kits to do it…but I’m afraid of plumbing! It would be nice to be able to use all the features of our refrigerator. For 1 1/2 years now we have had to tell guests that the water on the front of the fridge is just for show and refresh their glasses from our Brita water pitcher instead. Embarrassing!
Sarah, don’t feel embarrassed. We all have stuff like this in our house. That’s life 🙂
Here’s a great video from SharkBite that shares how to install a slip end fitting and shutoff valve for your fridge’s water line http://youtu.be/mOl-hJkadVM.
This is a much better way to tie into your water line versus a traditional “Saddle” valve that will leak over time. You can do this yourself, I know you can.
You’ll need to purchase the SharkBite service slip tee, SharkBite shutoff valve, and Steel braided water supply long enough to run from the fridge to the water line you’re tapping into.
Where’s the closest water supply line you can tap into?
The closest line is at the kitchen sink which is directly across the room from the refrigerator. So I would have to tap into that line and run a braided water supply line through the cabinets, behind the stove and through some more cabinets. I’ve seen kits with plastic tubing and a saddle valve and, like you said, I thought that looked like a great way to create a leak in a few years that would possibly go undetected for a long time. Thanks so much for the video! I think I could probably do this!
You’re super welcome Sarah. If your house has a basement you might want to tap into a water line in that space-especially if there’s a cold water pipe directly below the fridge. It could be easier.
I know you can do this project in time for the holidays. Let me know when you complete it because I’d love to start showcasing people who’ve been helped by HRT 🙂
This hopefully will inspire other people to do the projects they thought they couldn’t do. So you are an inspiration for us all.
This is one fitting I haven’t yet tried. Call me old school, but I still prefer soldering pipes. I can solder a joint pretty quickly, so for me it isn’t a huge deal, but these are great for a homeowner who wants to save money and not worry about burning the house down going on their maiden soldering voyage. I actually know quite a few plumbers who are using them now so who knows, maybe I’ll become a convert some day.
By the way Jeff, why not save some money and instead of sending your daughter to college send her to a trade school to become a plumber, LOL. I know plumbers who charge $90 per hour!
Your last point is a good one. $90 per hour isn’t bad, right. But it’s tough work for anyone.
The plumber we love is using SharkBites. And although they’re not a solution for every situation I do think any homeowner would feel comfortable with the concept.
Thanks so much for this guide, saved me a bunch of time and money today!
Glad to hear you saved some money.
If the Alumni Association sees this comment they’ll be calling for a donation-LOL.
Let me know if you ever have a question, I’d be happy to help 🙂
I love this post. It is the exact project I need to do. I am actually combining it with a frost proof sillcock I am installing. Anyways, my question is, I have to replace the valve similar to the one you have in the picture above (red knob)…can I cut that existing valve off, replace with a sharkbite ball valve, and then connect a frost proof sillcock to the outside?
It totally made sense.
I’m just a handy guy, too 🙂
Here’s a post I did on installing a frost free sillcock with SharkBite fittings.
You can definitely do this installation. One thing I forgot to mention in the posts is to make sure the copper pipes are adequately supported.
By that I mean you should add a plumbing support strap that prevents the pipes from sagging. You attach the strap to the joist.
This can be found in the plumbing section of any hardware store or box store.
Thanks so much for asking me this question. Let me know if you have more questions. I love using SharkBites!!
I hope that made sense. I am definitely a handyman but not a plumber.
Sweet! This post just saved me about $175 and it was so easy! Thanks for the video — it really helped me out.
You made my day. Super stoked you saved that much dough 🙂
Hi. Thanks for the post! We are looking to go buy supplies to do this, but I can’t find anyone who seems to have a small enough pipe? I measured the outside circumference of the pipe to be exactly one inch, (so, an OD of 3/8, and an ID of 1/4″ from the calculations I found on various sites) but it seems most sizes are either 1/2″ or 3/4″ (I’m told it’s actually the ID that is the plumber supplier size?) help!
Maren, what kind of plumbing project are you looking to do? That will help determine your supply needs.
Another great resource is the SharkBite website at http://www.sharkbite.com
They recently came out with a new stop fitting that accommodates 1/2″ x 3/8″ or 1/4″. These are also known as shut off valves and are under sinks or toilets.
I have a pin hole in my main supply to the house (after the meter.) Can I use a Sharkbite or 2 to fix this? Where can I find them on Long Island??
Could you send me a picture of your setup? That will help me figure out if a SharkBite is feasible. You can find SharkBites at Home Depot and Lowe’s has a similar model as well. But send me those pics and we’ll figure this out 😉
Could you send me a picture of your setup? That will help me figure out if a SharkBite is feasible. You can find SharkBites at Home Depot and Lowe’s has a similar model as well. But send those pics to [email protected] and we’ll figure this out 😉
Thanks for the video…it makes me believe maybe I can save the $250 the plumber wants to replace two copper pipes that are corroded.
I have a laundry room sink that has a nasty corroded faucet and the pipes going up about 8 inches are all green and nasty as well. Lately I have notices a little leak from the faucet knobs when I use them and I am afraid it will just bust one day and I won’t have a clue what to do.
My question is, do you think I can replaces 8″ of pipe and the faucet without a plumber and using the sharkbite stuff? I can send you pictures of the issue if that will help.
Definitely send me some pictures of your situation. I’m betting you can probably do this but want to see your scenario first. I’m certain you can replace the faucet with minimal trouble and tools. Take some pictures of the underside of the faucet and bot sets of pipes. Then send them to [email protected]
Do you need to move that ground wire upstream now?
Scott, this is an excellent question.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention. This ground wire is upstream from the SharkBite which means its closer to the water main in our house.
But I’m thinking the SharkBite impedes the grounding action of the wire much like a water meter does. If you look at most water meters there is a jumper cable attached to the copper pipes using clamps. This is done because the water meter brakes the grounding path.
In my case I should use a jumper cable with two clamps much like at the water meter. One clamp to the left of the SharkBite and one to the right.
This is a safety precaution I should take because if an electrical wire gets loose in the ceiling where the pipes are and charges the copper pipe there’s no place for that charge to go. It won’t be grounded!!!
And it could lead to an electrical shock.
Thanks Scott for pointing this out. It’s a simple fix but a REALLY IMPORTANT one.
I want to install a sill cock in a new location of the house where none exists now. Is there one of your articles I could read and consume prior to attempting this. My plan is to use Sharkbite connections and PEX. I will have to tap into the water supply somewhere in the crawl space of the house. Thanks for the assist.
I don’t have any tutorials on this Jim but I bet you can totally do this yourself. Especially if you’re using PEX and SharkBites. Both are so user friend. And if you’ve got an existing water line to tap into that makes it even easier.
Is there a specific concern you have?
Just like in your video, instead of replacing, I just want to add another shutoff valve a few feet before the existing one. Do I still need Slip End fitting? There is plenty of room around the pipe.
Thanks Tati for your question. It sounds like you want to add a second shutoff valve in the middle of the pipe, is that right?
If so, you may need the slip end fitting and two pieces of copper to make this fix. If you don’t mind, can you send me some pictures of your setup or a short video of what you’d like to do.
My email is [email protected]
Just want to make sure I’m giving you good advice 🙂
Use sharkbite, but beware they are TOUGH to remove unless used with pvc. Even w/ pvc, it’s not easy. There are plastic screw on fittings inc. Inside Rubber nipples that cost $2.13 vs. $17 i paid for a sharkbite. AND even a UNION PLUMBER could not remove the sharkbite. We had re-cut the pipe and use the cheaper, easier screw on.
I understand the Sharkbite concept and it’s a good one and it is a quality fitting. BUT they have to do something about easy removal for changes. I doubt i’d ever use on again.
Thanks Frank for your feedback. Keep in mind that SharkBites and other push on fittings require a special horse shoe tool to remove them from pipes. There’s a release ring on the fitting that gets pushed in with the tool.
Once pushed in the SharkBite will easily slide off the pipe. I’ve yet to encounter any issues with removal. But thanks for letting me know about your struggle.
Shark bites are just a temporary fix, if you want the job to be done right hire a plumber I know some people might want to save some money but at the end if is done wrong and you have some property damages you will still have to call a plumber
Thanks Luis for your comment. The funny thing is that some plumbers are using SharkBites in our area. I agree that SharkBites aren’t for every situation. Homeowners should still solder pipes in enclosed spaces that aren’t easily accessible. But for dropped ceilings, open stud or joist bays, and shutoffs I’d use SharkBites. I’ve been using them for years and haven’t had any issues.
Shark bite has saved our 100 year old home from drowning! I love them. I have so many projects to keep this house up to code or just plain update to suit my ideas of my Dream Home…hahaha. i grew up in this house and now I’m back to stay. We are taking on one to six projects at a time…depending on the emergencies at hand… The one right now is the main bath off living room. They made big houses and tiny bathrooms in 1917. In reality,there is more space behind existing walls behind the tub with a countertop stretches across all the way to the main wall where the window is. I decided to get rid of all the old fake tile and plaster/drywall and want to do some creative in that hole behind tub that says,”WOW!” Help with ideas would be most appreciated! I want to make it part of bathing area and also useful! sitting and shelves…made so water doesn’t splash over and out on floor. I have pics to help give a visual. Thank You!!! Sandie
Your house must be way awesome Sandie. I’d love to see your pictures. Feel free to send any videos too.
Once I see your situation I can give you some good ideas. There are so many wonderful products you can use to waterproof the space.
This was extremely helpful. My house has some old grey flexible piping that the previous owner installed to move the kitchen sink to a new location. Nobody at Lowes knew what type of pipe it was but a very helpful associate at Home Depot gave me everything I needed to connect the leaking sink supply lines utilizing the Skark Bite connectors to connect to the grey pipe and run new supply line to the sink. It was so easy and it worked like a charm, no leaks for over a year. Plus i paid a plumber to fix it the first time about five years ago. This weekend the grey pipe had a pin hole leak that was soaking my basement and I used two shark connectors to piece in a new section of pipe and repair the pipe. Your video showed me how to replace two fairly new shutoff valves that my plumber installed that are not shutting off the water completely anymore. That has been about 5years as well. These shark bite products work great and are easy to use.
They make a slip fit shutoff valve so you don’t have to buy a slip fit coupling and shutoff separately anymore.
Thanks Mark because I didn’t know that 😀
Trying to replace 15 feet of 1/2 copper pipe in un insulated utility room under addition.
Copper pipes have frozen over the years and now I want to install pex which can expand and contract. Problem is 1/2 pex with fitting inserted cuts water flow in half. Do you think I should go with 3/4 which is next size up ? their 5/8 is for heating not potable.
Russ, if you have access to the pipes you could consider attaching the PEX to the old copper with SharkBite push on fittings. The flow shouldn’t be affected and will solve the issue of having to choose the 3/4, which is a bit more expensive. But if you want to go with 3/4 inch that could be a great solution, too 😀
I’m afraid that your rule, “You shouldn’t have warm water running to the exterior of your house,” is going to be broken. There is this great idea called an outdoor shower. Following your excellent methods, I shall be installing two new side-by-side (hot and cold) hose bibs. Via some short sections of garden hose to a mixing valve and voila, the garden dirt stays outside!
We were being told do try our hand at soldering a copper pipe that suddenly got a leaky hole in it last night. After reading this we ordered the supplies, will be trying it in a few days. Is there still a way to ask a question if anything “unexpected” happens? The hardest part seems to be that the area we are working in is less than 2 feet high and just too cramped down there to do anything right, especially with it being the first time we’ve worked on plumbing. Thanks!
To clarify, we will be returning the torches etc we got from the local hardware store…we ordered Sharkbite stuff and will be trying that. Older is not necessarily better! And with not even being able to reach and very little space I don’t feel like “learning” to solder during this project. Plus the little hacksaw they sold me to cut the pipe seems pretty archaic compared to these little pipe cutters…and I just want to have a place to get the best advise since I obviously can’t trust my local hardware store!!!
I need to replace a section of burst copper pipe to our washer. I want to just go ahead and replace both lines and spigots because they’re really old. Does Sharkbite have something I can do this with?
They have a lot of different fittings. You can use a SharkBite coupling to replace the copper pipe sections then use 90 degree SharkBite elbows if need be. Home Depot has all the different fittings in the plumbing section but let me know if you have any questions Nick
I need to add a T to both my hot (1/2″) and cold (3/4″) copper lines. I’m planning to use SharkBite T fittings. Is there a trick to making the connection without damaging the copper lines?
the copper pipes in my bathroom sink seem to go all the way through the sink into the tap,i want to change the tap but cant unscrew/bolt them,the valve to stop the water ?with a turn of a screwdriver is directly underneath,could i somehow cut it there and get some sort of push fit then flexi tails to the taps
I admire you for all your response, you are genius. I’ll be reading other post later. Great job Jeff.
Thanks for sharing the pictures and the video is very helpful too!
Good respond in return of this difficulty with genuine arguments
and explaining everything regarding that.
The insertion depth for SharkBite fittings depend on the pipe size. 1\2″ pipe is 15/16″ depth. 1″ is close enough. It’s why you are able to see the 1″ mark after you do the insertion. However, 3/4″ pipe fitting will need 1 -1/8″. Not 1″. There may be times where it has to be more precise to get things lined up just right. Something I’ve run into several times.
What if you are adding dozens of push-fit connectors to extend some 1/2″ copper piping. You can’t provide jumpers at all connections in order to maintain continuity – tees, elbows, etc.
So, I have a shut off valve coming straight out of a wall that needs replaced. It’s on a threaded fitting that is soldered on to 1/2 inch copper, I have tried everything and can’t break it loose. I think i need to cut it off, but don’t have 2″ left if i do. any suggestions ??
Couldn’t this be done with a compression fitting shut-off valve…. which is supposed to be more permanently dependable? Thanks!
I admire you for all your response, you are genius Great job.Thanks for sharing the pictures and the video is very helpful too!
If you replace a compression fitting (like a toilet shutoff valve) with a sharkbite, do you have to remove the section of the pipe that had the ferrule? Is it safe to install the sharkbite over where the ferrule used to be?
We are going to replace the double sink vanity in our master bath. Everything is disconnected, but it has 2 copper pipes coming up from the floor. Each copper tube has a 2nd tube that vees off near the bottom and is probably 6″ longer than the tube with the shutoff valve. Taking the current vanity out is going to require me to cut a large hole around where the copper pipe enters the vanity. BTW, why would they have the supply line coming up from the floor? Anyway, this means I would also have to cut holes in the new vanity and I don’t want to do that. Can I shut off water to the house, cut the copper and add pex? Is there something that needs to replace that 2nd, longer tube? What purpose does it serve anyway?
This procedure is great, my home main water shut off valve needs to be replaced. Is this procedure allowed by Ontario building plumbing code?
Thanks for the great info! I removed 20 year old plastic push/pull shut off valves under our bathroom sink. When I push the new shark bite angle stop on to the copper pipe, the pipe moves back into the wall and it is hard for me to tell if I got the shark bite on far enough. Can I use pliers to hold the part of the pipe coming out of the wall while I push the shark bite on, or will that damage the copper pipe? There is no leak anywhere right now, so does that mean the shark bite is on far enough and fine? Or should I be concerned? Of course I didn’t do my research ahead of beginning the repair and didn’t measure the insertion line like you suggest in the video. UGH!
Howdy from Central TX…I am replacing a leaking water heater with tankless. Was excited to find the Sharkbite fittings, and got them to replace after taking out the water heater. However, after cutting out the copper I discovered that my 3/4″ copper was too small for the Sharkbite connections (old is 3/4 o.d. new is 3/4 i.d.). What do you recommend doing to retro the old 3/4″ pipe to allow for fitting Sharkbite with new 3/4″ pipe. Also, turns out the connections for my tankless heater are 1/2″ compression thread…thank you