Whether you’re dealing with a slow drip or you’ve got a gusher, a leaky pipe can be a serious problem. If the pipe is dripping on electrical wires, it can be even more dangerous. It is important to fix a leak as soon as you discover it. You can waste hundreds of dollars in water costs every year from one leaky pipe, let alone the damage caused by the water.
So, locate your leaky pipe and determine whether or not you need to shut off any electrical circuits. If you are dealing with a pipe in a laundry room, it is best to trip the circuits to the washer and dryer before you get started for safety. In serious situations, you may be best served by simply turning off your main breaker. Just make sure you have a battery-powered light source if you need to do this.
Once you have your leaky pipe located, you’ll need to turn off the water supply to your house. In most cases, this should be located near the water heater. You should see a large pipe with a valve. Turn the valve in a counterclockwise direction until you cannot turn it anymore. You’ve now shut off the main water supply, but please keep in mind that you may have some water left in the pipes.
Now, you’re ready to get started. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’re going to deal with PVC pipes since they are much easier to fix. If you’ve got metal pipes, it may be easier to call a professional, especially if you do not have any experience with welding. In order to fix your pipe, you’re going to need to have the following on hand:
- Pipe solvent (used to clean the ends of the pipes)
- Pipe fittings (make sure you have the appropriate size – you should have a couple of joints and, if necessary, an end cap)
- An extra length of pipe that is the same size as your existing pipe
- PVC pipe cement
- Plumber’s putty
- A cutting device, such as a hacksaw
- A blowtorch to clean up the ends after you cut the pipe
Locate the leak and determine how much new pipe you will need to replace the old pipe. Cut this to size before you get started. Go to the existing pipe and cut out the section that has the leak. If you’ve got a bucket on hand, this will help catch any water that may be left in the pipe. Use your blowtorch to sear off any jagged edges. Coat both ends of the existing pipe in solvent to clean them. Take two joints, one for each end. Apply the solvent to the new pipe and the joints.
Take your pipe cement and coat both ends and the joints. Quickly (less than 10 seconds), put the new joints on the new pipe. They should only need 15 seconds to set. Now, coat the other ends of the joints with cement and the ends of the old pipe. Quickly place them together and allow them to dry. You’ve fixed your leak! If temperatures are above 50 degrees, you should be able to run water through the pipes within a few minutes. If they are below 50, wait a few hours to give the cement time to completely set.