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Andy Lambert
Andy Lambert, Building Inspector
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 162
Experience:  City building inspector 14 years. Contractor 30 years. RI Dept. of Health Certified.
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pipe stuck inside another pipe

Customer Question

I have just recently taken off the "S" shaped shower head extender. The threads broke off inside the brass pipe in the wall. We have tried to use a internal pipe wrench, but cannot find the right size. The 3/8 1/2 & 3/4 did not work. Do they make a 5/8? Or do you have any other suggestions on how to get the stuck peice out with out having to take the whole shower out?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Andy Lambert replied 11 years ago.

I am not sure if they make a 5/8 but I can't see why they wouldn't. I for one however couldn't wait to run around looking for the right size so what I did is stick one end of a coated handle of plyers into the brass hole and turned it easily and it came right out.

It is better if the plier handle is rubber or plastic so that it has some friction inside the threads and does not slide around otherwise, it may just slip off the threads and spin freely.

Turn the handle gingerly and with a slight bend to it so that the handle sticks to the inside of the broken threads. It worked for me and unless your threads are really "frozen" to the brass pipe, it should work for you. The main thing is to use a plier that has a rubber or plastic coating on the handle.

Hope I helped :) 

Andy Lambert, Building Inspector
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 162
Experience: City building inspector 14 years. Contractor 30 years. RI Dept. of Health Certified.
Andy Lambert and other Home Improvement Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Serenade replied 11 years ago.

Hi Andy & All,

Customerjust sent this follow up and would appreciate some more help with this question. Thanks! -Andy

The answer seemed logical until I actually got a pair of pliers and  realized that they were just too small (the handle anyway.)  Also the  inside of the pipe is smooth since the threads are stuck to the other threaded  pipe.  So there really would be nothing to grip on to once the pliers  were inside.   I was not unhappy with your answer, I just never used  this service before and was expecting a little more in depth I guess.  Customer

Expert:  Dave replied 11 years ago.
 Can you see the broken part of the pipe or is it recessed back a little way?Generally speaking attempting to turn a bolt or pipe with something internal only makes it grip tighter.If you can access the pipe through the hole get a carbide cutter of a small diameter and a dremel type tool.Slit the inner part of the pipe(what you need removed)at 2 points 180 degrees from each other.Then pick the broken halves out with a small screwdriver or sharp pick.I do this on intake manifolds on cars alot.When reinstalling the new pipe use a liberal amount of thread sealer and you will be fine.Just be careful you dont dig to far into the pipe you are saving.If the threads get a little bit of damage you will still be ok.If that is not an option you will need to get a tap and rethread the pipe inside take your time and go slowly it will work also I've used both options but taps that size are not cheap.  
Expert:  Andy Lambert replied 11 years ago.

The handle has to be small. That's how you get it in there. The handle also has to have a coating like the kind many new pliers have today. This prevents it from slipping. But, the handle will slip even if it has a rubber coating or cover because you still need to angle the handle tip. 

It doesn't need to be pliers either, it's just that pliers have a bigger hand grasping surface. If you don't feel this is going to work for you then the only "real" professional advice is to get a plumber but try Dave's idea first if you have a Dremmel. Otherwise you will need to pay $85.00 for a good Dremmel kit and it wouldn't cost too much more than that to get a plumber to do the job correctly.

I am trying to help you and I'm sorry that you have accepted my answer perhaps a little bit too quickly. I owe you one. Next time you have a question I will post the answer for free (if the rules allow it)


Expert:  Marty replied 11 years ago.
An internal pipe wrench 1/2" in size SHOULD work .I know you said you
tried, that would be the correct size. They fit into the pipe loosely
and then expand as they are turned. Remember you are loosening the pipe
and should be turning to the LEFT(counter-clockwise) Check that there
is not an adjustment needed to the wrench for "removing" pipes.

If this doesn't work, instead of a DREMEL, you can use a regular
hacksaw blade. Insert it into the pipe and cut through the pipe on the
TOP ONLY . This will give you enogh play to bend the old threads in.
Looking at your cut, bend down the RIGHT side a little. You can then
grab the threads with needle nose pliers and remove (turning left)