How to Use a Compression Sleeve Puller

Compression Sleeve Puller

A compression sleeve puller is a specialty plumbing tool you probably won't need very often, but when you do, you'll be happy you have it. The primary use of this tool is to pull off the brass compression rings found in various compression fittings. Most commonly, it's used when replacing compression-type fixture shutoff valves.

Over time, the brass compression sleeve beneath the compression nut can become virtually fused to the copper pipe, and this tool offers an easy way to remove it. A common DIY mistake when removing a compression fitting is to twist the compression sleeve with pliers—a method that can easily damage the pipe. Thus, while it won't be used very often, a compression sleeve puller is a good tool for DIYers to own—well worth the $10 to $20 cost.

Some forms of this tool also can be used to pull off stubborn faucet handles. In this form, they are often sold as "sleeve and handle puller" tools.

What Is a Compression Sleeve Puller?

A compression sleeve puller is a specialty plumbing tool designed to help remove the brass compression sleeves on various compression fittings, such as fixture shutoff valves.

Sleeve Puller vs. Cartridge Puller

Another specialty tool that is sometimes confused with a compression sleeve puller is the cartridge puller. These are two entirely different accessories, although they are similar in appearance. The cartridge puller is used to extract faucet cartridges from single-handle faucets, especially shower faucet valves.

Compression Sleeve Puller
  • Used to remove compression sleeves and nuts from copper plumbing pipes. Some types can be used to pull off faucet handles.

Faucet Cartridge Puller
  • Used to extract valve cartridges from the bodies of a single-handle faucet valves

How to Use a Compression Sleeve Puller

There are many situations in which a compression sleeve puller might be used, but a common situation is when disconnecting fixture shut-off valves, which usually are attached with compression fittings.

  1. Shut Off the Water

    You must shut off the water before removing the fixture shut-off valve (or another compression fitting). In some cases, there is a branch line shut-off valve you can close to shut off the water, but in most cases, you will need to shut off the home's main water supply shut-off valve. Opening the lowest faucet in the house will drain the water and remove pressure from the pipes.

    Test to make sure the water is off by turning on the nearest faucet. The fixture should not be getting any water. There may be some residual water held back in the pipe by the shut-off valve, so it is a good idea to have a small bowl, sponge, or towels handy when removing the valve.

  2. Remove the Compression Fitting

    Using two sets of pliers or wrenches—one to hold the fitting and the other to turn the compression nut—disconnect the compression nut securing the fitting to the pipe. Use equal pressure on both pliers to prevent damage to the pipe.

  3. Prepare the Sleeve Puller

    Following the manufacturer's directions, prepare the tool to pull a compression sleeve. This may involve screwing a special threaded bolt onto the end of the tool, fitting the tip of the tool into the end of the water pipe, then threading the pipe's compression nut onto the bolt.

  4. Remove the Compression Sleeve

    Tighten down the handle of the sleeve puller. This will draw the compression nut forward on the pipe, pulling the compression sleeve free. If the sleeve is very tight, it may be necessary to hold the puller with one hand and screw the bolt in with pliers or a wrench.

    With the old brass compression sleeve and nut removed, check to make sure that the pipe is in good shape before installing a new compression shut-off valve. If the pipe is damaged in any way, the new compression sleeve and nut will not properly seal against the copper pipe. 

Keeping a Compression Sleeve Puller in Good Condition

A compression sleeve puller requires little maintenance, other than keeping the threads clean and free of corrosion. Wipe the tool clean after each use. And avoid dropping the tool, which might damage the threads.

This tool should not wear out and require replacement. Many professional plumbers use sleeve pullers that have been handed down from older, retired plumbers.