Copper pipes are made from a soft metal that is easily cut when making various parts, especially when cutting copper pipes with an angle grinder. If you are not careful, you can leave sharp edges or burrs on your copper pipe which will make it very difficult to push through fittings and create leaks in your plumbing system.
The best way to avoid this problem is by deburring your copper pipe before you start assembling it with other pieces of piping. We are going to show you our three best ways to deburr copper pipes.
What is Deburring?
Deburring is the process of removing sharp edges (Known as burrs) from the ends of copper pipe. Burrs occur when pipes are cut down which leaves jagged edges on the inside and the outside of the pipe.
It’s important to remove all burrs on both sides of the pipe because they will affect how the pipe attaches to fittings and cause leaks in your plumbing system.
Problems from Not Deburring Your Pipes
There are three main problems that can happen when you don’t deburr your pipes before assembly.
1 – Leaks
You will still have leaking in your plumbing system because the sharp edges of the pipe could puncture or disrupt the seal for fittings causing leaks in your plumbing.
2 – Turbulence
If you are assembling copper pipes for your water system and do not remove the burrs, it could create turbulence inside the pipework which leads to corrosion on the metal pipes and fittings that would lead to more problems down the line if not fixed.
3 – Ill-fitting joints
Your pipe may not come cleanly through the fitting which means you will be unable to tighten it securely onto the fitting if it is too big or loose-fitting.
How to Deburr Copper Pipe
As you can see, deburring your pipes is an important step that must not be missed and you can do this in various ways: a file, a deburring tool, or sandpaper. Select the method that best suits your needs.
How to Deburr Copper Pipes with a File
The best type of file to use to deburr your copper pipes is one that is flat on one side and half rounded on the other.
You can deburr your copper pipes with a file by taking out the inside burrs with the rounded edge and the burrs on the outside with the flat edge.
Hold the pipe at 45 degrees and use the file to remove all sharp edges and burrs – filing can be a time-consuming task and is not really the most efficient.
How to Deburr Copper Pipes with Sandpaper
Most DIY plumbers are likely to use sandpaper to deburr their copper pipes as they are likely to already have some in the shed or garage.
Take a piece of sandpaper, hold it firmly or wrap it around something that you can hold with good purchase and use it to sand down all the sharp edges and burrs.
Using sandpaper can also be time-consuming due to having to sand down each side of the pipe individually. We recommend this cheap and simple device known as a deburring tool.
How to Deburr Copper Pipes with a Deburring Tool
There are a couple of different tools available, the first being the pen reamer. The pen reamer has a small bent blade that is used to scrape away the burrs from the inside edge of the pipe.
This is fine if you are soldering your pipework, but the pen reamer is not much use at removing the burrs on the outside of a pipe. If you are completing any kind of push-fit plumbing, the burrs on the outside of the pipe must be removed as the sharp edges could damage the seal and prevent the joint from being watertight.
We prefer the multipurpose inside and outside deburring wheel (Amazon link – opens in a new tab). This is a small and inexpensive tool that can be used quickly and efficiently to remove the burrs on the inside and the outside of a pipe.
Just insert the pipe and give the wheel a few turns and that really is it.
The deburring process is important to ensure that pipes are watertight and properly sealed. It’s a simple step, but it can save you from leaks or other problems in the future if not completed before assembly.
We recommend getting the inside/ outside deburring tool, which is extremely good and cheap too, but if you don’t want to buy this small tool, you can use sandpaper or a file although this will make the process take a lot longer.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“The best sandpaper for deburring copper pipe is 220 grit!”
“The easiest and most efficient way to deburr copper pipe is with a deburring tool!”
“If you’re deburring a copper pipe with a file – use one with a flat side and a half-round side to remove the burrs on the inside and the outside effectively!”
“If you’re using sandpaper, make sure to hold it firmly or wrap it around something solid because if you hold it too loosely, it can be dangerous!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to deburr copper pipe?
Deburring your copper pipes is essential for various reasons. Firstly, the sharp edges can damage seals or prevent joints from being watertight and secondly, the edges can create turbulence in the water pipe which leads to corrosion.
Can you deburr copper pipe without a tool?
It is possible to deburr copper pipe without tools as you can use sandpaper if you want, however it will be very time-consuming and not as efficient as using a specifically designed deburring tool.
What does it mean to deburr a pipe?
Deburring a pipe is the process of removing the sharpened edges from the mouth of a tube after it has been cut.
Can you cut copper pipe with an angle grinder?
Yes, angle grinders will make quick work of copper pipe and it will cut through with ease. Using an angle grinder will undoubtedly leave sharp edges so you will need to deburr the pipes before you install them.
I’m Lee the Plumbing Wizard. I’ve been a plumber for over 40 years and have seen it all. People used to call me a magician because I could fix things so easily – hence the name Plumbing Wizard.
I’m always happy to help out a fellow tradesman or woman, so if you need any advice or just someone to talk plumbing with, don’t hesitate to get in touch!