Quick-fixes for leaks (until the plumber arrives)
A leaky pipe can lead to major damage to your home, including rotten wood and wallboard, or mold growth within the walls. Leaks also cost a lot in terms of water – the average household can lead to more than 10,000 wasted gallons of water per year. If you can’t call in a plumber right away to fix your leak, then at least consider the following guide to help you develop a temporary fix.
#1: Create a Pipe Bandage
A bandage for a leaking pipe works well when the leak is between joints. You can purchase the actual supplies to make a bandage from a plumbing supply store, or you can go the DIY route with items you have on hand. For a true bandage, you need a hose clamp wider than the leak, but you can use a regular clamp if that is all you have. You will also need a piece of rubber to use as the patch.
- Turn off the water and dry the pipe.
- Position the piece of rubber over the leak.
- Place the clamp over the rubber and position it so it is also centered on the leak. Tighten the clamp until it is snug to the pipe so water can’t leak past the rubber gasket.
This fix can last for several days, which makes it a good quick option when you know the plumber will be coming soon.
#2: Try Repair Tape
Repair tape for plumbing jobs is made of silicone. It can be used for leaks at pipe joints and it can successfully provide a temporary patch for small mid-pipe pinhole leaks.
For both joint and pinhole leaks, you need to turn off the water and dry the pipe. Then, do the following depending on the type of leak:
- Joints: Separate the pipes and wrap some tape around the threads, then screw the two pipes back together. Finish by wrapping a second layer of tape around the outside of the joint.
- Pinhole leaks: Wrap several layers of tape around the exterior of the pipe, fully covering the leak.
A tape fix can last through the weekend, so only use it when you know a plumber will be arriving in a day or two.
#3: Invest in a Pipe Wrap
Pipe wraps provide a longer-term temporary fix, so they can last several weeks or more in a pinch. They are good for mid-pipe leaks and leaks at pipe joints. They are also relatively simple to use so they are a good item to keep in a home repair kit.
The wrap is actually a fiberglass tape that is wrapped tightly around the leaky area. It is then lightly wet, which causes it to shrink and harden around the pipe as it dries.
#4: Fix It With Epoxy
For leaks in the middle of pipes that are larger than a pinhole, you may need to get more creative if you don’t have a pipe wrap available. This repair also works well for cracks in pipe joints. In this case, opt for a two-part plumber’s epoxy.
Simply turn off the water and wipe the pipe clean. You can then mix the epoxy and fill the hole. If you have plumber’s tape handy, wrap this around the repair before the epoxy cures. It can take 24 hours for the epoxy to set, so you will need to leave the water off for awhile.
Remember, these repairs are temporary at best. You will need to eventually bring in a plumber, who will be able to remove the damaged section of pipe and replace it with a new pipe. Otherwise, the leak will eventually return.