How to Fix a Leaky Pipe

Finding a leaky pipe is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. Leaking pipes can lead to water damage, mold, mildew, flooding, and a world of other issues. While the potential dangers involved with a leaking pipe will depend on the severity of the leak and how long it’s gone unabated, every leak needs to get fixed as soon as possible.

While some leaking pipes will require the services of a professional plumber, you may be able to fix others on your own. This article will tell you how to identify a leaking pipe, what your next steps should be, and how to fix the problem. We’ll also discuss common causes of leaking pipes and how to avoid them.

How to Spot a Leaky Pipe

While some leaks, such as a burst pipe, are easy to spot, others aren’t so obvious. Some leaks are so small, in fact, that there won’t even be visible water on or around the pipe in question. Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant and watchful for signs of a potential leak.

Pooling Water

The most obvious sign of a water leak is unexplained water pooling on your floor. Unless you recently spilled something or there’s an obvious cause, a leaking pipe is the likely culprit. Look directly above the water to see if there are any plumbing pipes in the area. If there are, check them for moisture or leaking water.

Corrosion Around the Pipe

Another less obvious sign of a leak is corrosion on the outside of a copper pipe. You can identify corrosion due to moisture because it creates a bluish-greenish powdery substance on the exterior of the pipe. This is likely due to pinhole leaks in the pipe, or a leaking joint.

Water Stains

In addition to pooling water and corrosion, you can detect leaking pipes in your wall and ceiling by watermarks. As the pipe leaks water, it will drip down on the inside of your drywall and create a dark stain. If you notice these stains, you have a leaking pipe or another water-related issue.

How to Fix Leaky Pipes: 5 Methods

Now that you know how to spot a leaking pipe, let’s look at several ways you can fix it. The method you choose will depend on the type of pipe that’s leaking and how bad it is.

Before You Get Started

Before you start fixing any pipes, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn off the water supply to your home or business. To do that, locate the water main where it enters the building. There should be a water supply valve that you turn to the closed position to terminate the flow of water. Next, go to a faucet or shower and turn on the cold water until water no longer comes out of the spigot.

If one of your hot water lines is leaking, close the valve above your water heater and open the hot water side of one of your faucets. Once the water stops flowing, the line is empty, and you’re ready to start making your repair.

Use Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape

The first and easiest way to fix a leaking pipe is to use pipe repair tape. To use this method, simply wrap the tape tightly around the leaking part of the pipe for three or four rounds. This is only a temporary fix for a pipe leak, and you should find a permanent solution before the issue gets any worse. The upside is that you can use duct or gorilla tape on any type of pipe, including copper, PVC, PEX, and galvanized steel.

Use Epoxy Putty

If you’re looking for another of the most popular temporary fixes for a leaky pipe, consider using epoxy putty. Epoxy putty is a soft, moldable, claylike material that feels like a rubber playto. While it’s soft and moldable when you take it out of its container, it hardens over time.

Epoxy putty is perfect for plumbing pipe repair because it hardens even faster when exposed to water. Therefore, after you apply a generous portion of the putty to the leaking pipe, the leak starts to harden the part of the putty that’s in direct contact with it. This forms a rather quick waterproof seal, and the rest of the epoxy will harden over time.

Epoxy putty is somewhere between a temporary and a permanent fix. Technically, the putty can hold for years at a time, but it’s still not a fix that a professional plumber would ever use. If you want to do the job right, you should eventually make a professional repair yourself or contact a plumber to make one for you.

Use a Rubber Hose With Clamps

Another great semi-permanent solution for a leaking pipe is to use a rubber hose with hose clamps. For this method, you’ll need a rubber hose large enough to wrap around the outside of the leaking pipe. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly snug fit, however, because that’s what the hose clamps are for.

Cut a small section of the hose that’s long enough to encompass the leak. The hose will act as a makeshift rubber gasket. With the leak covered, put a hose clamp on either side of the rubber hose and tighten them. As long as the pipe clamps are tight, the hose will act as a seal for the pipe.

Use a Pipe Repair Clamp

If you want a more professional repair rather than a rubber hose, you can also use a pipe clamp. Pipe repair clamps are readily available at most hardware stores and are easy to use. All you need to do is choose a pipe that’s the same size as the leaking pipe joint. Once you have the right clamp size, simply put the clamp over the leak and tighten either side of the clamp. You can use this method on any type of pipe, and it’s especially effective on galvanized or copper pipes.

Make a Professional Repair

Finally, if you want to do things right, you can try fixing a leaking pipe the way the pros do it. The exact method is different for different pipes, but the general concept is the same, and here’s how it works.

  1. Cut the pipe on either side of the leak. If the leak is at a joint, such as a coupling or elbow, cut the pipe on either side of the joint.
  2. Next, install a new joint or section of pipe in place of the leaking portion that you just removed.
  3. For PVC pipe, use PVC materials, cement glue, and primer to make the repair.
  4. For PEX pipe, copper pipe, and galvanized pipe, use SharkBite fittings. SharkBite fittings are press-on fittings, and all you need to do to use them is clean the ends of the pipe they will attach to and firmly press the fitting in place.

Using SharkBite fittings will negate the need to acquire extra plumbing equipment and supplies, such as crimpers, a soldering kit, or a pipe threader.

Regardless of what method you use, once you have the pipe repaired, turn on the water and check it for leaks. If there aren’t any leaks, your repair formed a watertight seal, and you can resume using your plumbing system like normal. 

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