Emergency Leaking Pipe Repair | Repairing Leaky Pipes
December 22, 2017
A leaking pipe requires immediate action. If you notice a leaking pipe anywhere in the home, turn off water to that part of the home. This can be done by locating the individual shut-off valves and turning it to the right (for gate valves) or perpendicular with the water pipe (for ball valves).
Locate the nearest water shut-off valve to the pipe or plumbing fixture and turn it off. But if you have to turn off the main water valve to shut off water to the entire building, so be it. Learn how to shut off your water supply.
During holidays and emergencies happen, such as a hurricane, tornado, or other natural event, it can take days or weeks to get any kind of professional service. When you notice a leak, schedule service with a professional plumber right away.
Emergency Pipe Repair
If, however, there is a long service delay and you need to wait days or weeks for a plumber’s availability, there are some temporary leaking pipe repairs that can keep your pipes working for the time being.
Once you turn off the water to that part of the plumbing system, you may be able to make small pipe leak repairs. These “duct tape fixes” are only temporary solution. Make sure you schedule a visit from a professional plumber for a permanent fix.
Any pipe repairs you make will cost money, but are all well worth it. Like electrical system and other important parts of the home, if there is a problem, it can be extremely damaging and potentially dangerous. This is especially important if you have pipes that are located to precious documents, heirlooms, electronics, and other valuable items.
If you notice a pipe leak, it has already started damaging the pipe with corrosion. While these temporary fixes can stop your leak (or slow it to a manageable drip) for weeks and perhaps months, it is important to contact a qualified plumber for a professional solution. Your pipe may need to be replaced.
Repair your pipes ASAP!
Leaks in the Making
If you notice rusting, mineral deposits, or corrosion on any of your metal pipes, there is a leak in the making. Contact a professional to fix the situation before it leads to water damage.
When temperatures approach freezing levels, take some precautions against frozen pipes. Learn how to prevent frozen pipes.
“Sweating” Pipes are Not Leaking
You may find “sweating” pipes when inspecting your pipes for the source of the leak. The water droplets are most likely the effects of condensation, which can often be found in hotter, more humid environments. If you have ever noticed the water beads form on a cold glass of water on a hot day, it’s the same principle at work. Don’t mistake sweating pipes for leaking pipes.
One solution to “sweating “pipes is cold water pipe insulation. However, make sure that the pipe is completely dry before applying installing any type of pipe insulation.
Wipe off the wet pipes to see if there is actually a leak or not. If it is a leak, it should get wet again quickly. Condensation takes time.
Emergency Leaking Pipe Repair: 5 DIY Options
Here are three ways to temporarily fix a pipe leak while you are waiting for a plumber:
NOTE: For all of these methods, mark the source of the leak, then turn off the water from a water supply valve before proceeding. You will want the pipes to be as dry as possible.
IMPORTANT: These leaking pipe repairs are only temporary solutions. They will only work for very small leaks. For any larger splits or holes, turn off the water supply to that part of the home immediately and call a professional.
No matter which leaky pipe repair solution you choose, make sure you shut down water to that part of the plumbing system and test it to make sure.
Once the water is turned off, clean and dry off the small leak in your pipe.
A more permanent solution would be the sleeve clamp, which is shaped like a tube to fit around the pipe and distributing the surface area and pressure.
Make sure the sleeve clamp fits the pipe exactly. Otherwise, it won’t work.
Most sleeve clamps have screws or bolts that are used to tighten the clamp around the pipes.
Place a thick rubber blanket (thick rubber) around the pipe before tightening the clamp.
You can find specific metal pipe clamps at your local home improvement or hardware store. Make sure you mark the pipe diameter for the right sleeve clamp.
Both the C-clamp and the sleeve clamp will work temporarily for small leaks, but make sure to call a professional for anything larger.
An alternative to the sleeve clamp, which is specifically fitted for a certain size of pipe, is a hose clamp. These are more flexible and handier than sleeve clamps since they can be used to fit most sized pipes. For fresh water pipes, use Nos. 12 and 16.
If you don’t have any other solutions, you can use a C-clamp to temporarily stop a pipe leak. Since it may crush your pipe if it is copper or PVC piping, we don’t recommend this method.
- If you are going to use a clamp and rubber blanket, make sure you are working on a steel pipe. This can be cut from an inner tube if you need to.
- To reduce the chance of crushing the pipe, use two pieces of cork and two piece of rubber.
- Dry the area as much as possible.
- Place the rubber over the leak with another piece of rubber padding on the other side.
- Use a C-clamp with two pieces of cork or wood between the clamp heads.
This is a last resort if you don’t have the materials for any of the following solutions.
Plastic Electrical Tape
You can temporarily stop or slow pinhole leaks on copper or PVC pipe with electrical tape. Wrap the layers of electrical tape with three inches on all sides of the leak. Overlap the electrical tape on each revolution.
When the leak occurs in a strange area of the piping, such as around pipe fitting and turns, use epoxy putty to temporarily seal the leak.
- Make sure the pipe is completely dry.
- Mix the epoxy according to the manufacturer instructions.
- Apply the putty liberally over and around the leak.
- If the packaging recommends it, you can wrap some tape around the epoxy to help shape it and hold it in place.
- Wait until the epoxy putty hardens. Consider placing a space heater nearby to speed up the curing process.
If you pipe fitting is leaking, consider using epoxy putty around the threaded steel fitting where the two pieces connect.
Replace Leaking Pipe Section?
A much more difficult solution would be to replace the damaged pipe section. This is for serious and knowledgeable DIY-ers only. It would require at least a hacksaw, two pipe wrenches, and potentially a pre-threaded pipe or propane torch and solder. Just don’t do it.
We highly recommend hiring a professional to replace any part of your plumbing system.
We hope that these temporary leaking pipe repairs can help you in the case of an emergency. As soon as you notice a leaking pipe, contact your reliable Birmingham plumber—OnTime Service. We are usually able to set up a service appointment within 24 hours.
Call us at (205) 942-1405 or fill out our online form to schedule quick, on-time service.