Compression rings, aka Olives, can be incredibly convenient when you want to quickly make connections between copper pipes without having to solder them. They are easy to apply and when applied correctly can provide a high-pressure, water-tight seal. Unfortunately, as they are so effective in providing a connection point, you may run into trouble when you want to remove them! Below we will tell you everything you need to do to remove a compression ring from a copper pipe in simple and straightforward steps. Read below to learn all the tools you’ll need and the easiest ways to accomplish compression ring removal from copper pipes.
What is a Compression Ring?
A compression ring is a pipe fitting that allows you to connect two copper pipes without having to form a seal by soldering the joins. Compression rings are usually used on shut-off valves for taps and toilet water pipes, these compression fittings can also be used to connect a valve to two pipes in a straight line during various plumbing jobs.
A compression ring works when you place it over the edges of two pipes which you which to join, then you tighten the nut so that it compresses the ring around the joint and creates a watertight seal.
How to Remove a Compression Ring from a Copper Pipe?
Because the compression ring forms such a tight seal when applied, it can be difficult to loosen it when you want to remove the pipes or make any adjustments. When you first attempt it, it can seem impossible to work the tightened ring free and remove the nut which has been turned to capacity. But there are some simple steps you can take to get the job done pretty quickly with the right tools. We’ll guide you through the easiest ways to remove a compression ring from a copper pipe below.
If you have already taken the fitting off and just need to remove the olive, go straight to Step 4.
What You Need
- 2 Pairs of Adjustable Pliers
- File or deburring tool (amazon link – opens in a new tab)
- A Strong and Flexible Hacksaw
Step 1 – Shut off The Water
Your first step before you try anything is to shut off the water supply to the section of pipe you are going to be working on.
This will make sure that you don’t give yourself and your surroundings a shower when you get to work and manage to remove the compression ring.
Step 2 – Grip the Male End of the Compression Fitting
The compression fitting is made of three different components – the tightening nut with female threads which will screw into a seat with compatible make threads, and the ferrule (olive) which was tightened as the female and male threads were tightened around it.
To get started on removing the ring you should use a strong pair of pliers to hold the male end of the fitting.
Step 3 – Turn the Compression Nut on the Fitting
Use the pliers to start turning the compression nut in a counterclockwise direction from the male end. If you are removing rings from shutoff valves this will usually mean turning the nut in a clockwise direction to your own position. Once you feel the nut start to give and loosen you can abandon the pliers and use your hand to quickly unscrew it until you remove it completely. Then put it in a visible spot and turn to the next stage of getting the actual ring itself off of the pipe.
Note: Remember to keep your bowl and towel at the ready as there is likely to be a little water escaping at this point.
Step 4 – Remove the Compression Ring from the Copper Pipe
Once the nut has come loose in your hand you can use one of the pairs of pliers to grip the compression ring (olive or ferrule) and move and turn it to loosen it from the pipe. You may be able to pull it so that slides off the end of one of the pipes, although in most cases you’ll need to use other tools.
If moving it with the pliers doesn’t work and the ring is completely stuck fast, then you will need to use a hacksaw to remove it.
Step 5 – Use a Hacksaw to Cut Through the Pipe
When applying the hacksaw to the pipe, there are two different ways to approach the problem. This will depend upon the amount of clearance the tool has. If your hacksaw is deft enough, you could attempt to just cut through the thickness of the compression band and not hit the pipe at all in order to work the ring free and remove it. Alternatively, to remove a very tight compression ring from a copper pipe, you should take the hacksaw and place it as close to the edge of the ring as possible. Then cut a straight line through the entire pipe. You should then be able to work the olive off the edge you have just cut.
Then you can use the file or pipe deburring tool to work the edge of the copper pipe and remove the remaining threads of the band.
A compression ring is an incredibly handy tool to have on hand when you are doing a plumbing installation, but if you are tasked with removing pipes that are using them to seal joints, removing them can seem nigh-on impossible! Thankfully with some everyday tools, you will find that the process is actually very simple – all you need are some pliers, a file, and a hacksaw. Then you just need to put some strength behind your work, and you should find that the compression ring soon begins to loosen and give. Remember, if you are attempting to remove a compression ring, you should never leave the job unfinished with the intention of coming back to it later. You may have already loosened the ring to the point that as soon as you turn the water back on, a noticeable water leak will appear.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“Once an olive has been removed, it cannot be used again!”
“Before undertaking any plumbing work of this kind, make sure you turn the water off!”
“Once you have started the job, ensure that you finish it because once, moved, the olive is extremely unlikely to create a watertight seal again!”
“If you have used a hacksaw or a pipe cutting tool, be sure to deburr the copper pipe to remove all of the sharp cut edges with a file or pipe deburrer!”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you remove an olive from a copper pipe?
Hacksaw. If you are deft enough, you can try and cut straight through the olive, although, in most cases, you will need to cut straight through the pipe itself.
Can you reuse an olive on a pipe?
No, olives that have been used for piping cannot be reused. Once an olive has been used to join two pieces of pipe together, it permanently creates a seal that cannot be opened without damaging the joint. Therefore, if you attempt to remove and reuse an olive, it will likely leak when you try to reconnect the pipes.
Can you remove a compression fitting?
Yes, compression fittings can be removed although they cannot be reused. The process of removing a compression fitting usually involves using a wrench to loosen the nut at the base of the fitting. Once the nut is loose, the fitting can be pulled off of the pipe. It’s important to note that compression fittings should only be used once and should not be reused because they can damage the pipe and create a leak.
Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.