Water Pipe Leaks

Problem: Water drips, leaks, or squids from the side of a pipe or at pipe joints.

Background: A leaking pipe can occur at any time, especially in older homes. Whenever a leak is detected in a pipe, first turn off the water supply to that area at the nearest valve. Or, if necessary, turn off the water at the main supply valve. (All members of the household should know where the main supply valve is located in case this type of emergency occurs.)

What to do: After the water is turned off, decide whether to call a plumber or to try to fix the problem yourself. For smaller leaks in pipes, hardware stores and home centers carry a variety of clamp- in-place devices, which can be used to seal leaks on pipes at least 1½ inches in diameter. (Applying chewing gum or wrap ping with tape with not work because neither gum nor tape can withstand the water pressure in pipes.)
You may, however, be able to stop leaking at pipe joints by applying epoxy—at least on a temporary basis. Turn off the water, clean the metal well, and apply the epoxy in a thick layer all around the leaking joint. If the joint still leaks, the only option may be to replace the fitting. Joint leaks in galvanized, threaded pipe can sometimes be stopped by tightening the threads. But, since this opens up the next set of threads, you have to work back to what is known as a union. Copper, galvanized, or plastic pipe can be repaired by sawing out bad sections and replacing them using special transition fit tings.

Special advice: When working with old galvanized steel pipe systems, it’s best to always use 2 pipe wrenches. Avoid banging or applying excessive pressure on the pipes because you may cause more joint leaks in the system by doing so. Whenever a pipe leak develops, also inspect the rest of the water supply piping. It may be possible that entire sections should be replaced, especially if water pressure is low see
Water Pressure Is Low a plumber can offer advice if this is the case.

Helpful hint: If local codes allow, sections of metal pipe may be re paired with plastic pipe and fittings, which are easier to work with than metal. Special transition fittings are used between the old metal and new plastic pipe. Check with home centers or other suppliers of plastic pipe and fittings for supplies.




The Home Repair Guide

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