Most of the time, it’s best to call a plumber to deal with a water leak. But small leaks from an obvious source can sometimes be fixed quickly. First, you must assess the leak. Is it gushing from a broken pipe or dripping from a loose fitting or connection? In any case, here is how to proceed quickly with water leak repair if you’re up to the task.
Turn Off the Water Supply
Know where your main water shut-off valve is. It’s usually in the basement or crawlspace. This will enable you to act quickly and turn off the water as soon as there’s a problem. To stop the flow, turn the valve clockwise. Also, turn on faucets to drain water until the pipes are empty; then shut them off before proceeding.
Assess the Problem
Once you’ve urgently shut the water supply, try to find where the leak is coming from. Is a pipe broken or cracked, or is there a hole in it? Can you find a bad seal, corrosion, or damaged pipe joint? Some leaks are accompanied by higher or lower than normal water pressure, which can indicate additional issues in your plumbing system (in which case it’s best to call a plumber).
Clean Up the Mess
Soak up spilled water with a mop, towels, or wet vacuum. Try to dry things out as quickly as you can to avoid water damage and mold. If possible, turn on fans to provide air circulation. Move rugs, furniture, and other belongings away and dry them out, and don’t use any electrical utilities or devices in affected areas.
How to Fix a Pipe
You don’t always have to replace a leaky pipe right away. Dry out the pipe first because it will be slippery and difficult to handle when wet. Wipe it down with a clean cloth and place a cloth or bucket under the leak to catch any water.
To fix a pipe on your own:
- Tighten the Coupling Nuts: The P-trap is connected to the drain pipe via coupling nuts. This U-shaped pipe prevents waste and sewer gas from backing up, but it can leak. In some cases, tightening a coupling nut with a wrench can fix the problem.
- Plumbers Tape: If the leak is coming from worn pipe thread seals, applying plumber’s tape is a quick and effective fix. To apply the tape, unscrew the coupling nuts and disconnect the P-trap from the drain pipe. Then wrap the plumber’s tape around the pipe threads and reattach the P-trap, tighten the nuts, and run the water to see if the seal works.
- Self-Fusing Silicone Tape: Stretch the tape as you wrap it around the pipe, overlapping it tightly around the area of the leak. This creates a seamless waterproof seal. It works only on low-pressure lines and is only a temporary fix.
- Epoxy Putty: Also a temporary fix, epoxy putty will seal a hole or crack in the pipe. Once the water is off, the damaged line is drained, and the area is dry, tear off a piece of putty large enough to cover the damaged pipe section. Knead the putty to make it pliable and apply it to the pipe. It will cure at room temperature.
- Patch and Clamp: Pipes with larger breaks can also be temporarily repaired. After the water is turned off and the area cleaned, smooth sharp edges with a metal file and apply a neoprene rubber patch and properly sized repair clamp. Make sure the damaged section is evenly overlapped. Tighten the clamp and turn the water on to make sure the leak is sealed.
Tips for Preventing More Leaks
Most of the methods above seal a leak temporarily, and soon you’ll need water leak repair by a professional plumber. The number one way to prevent further trouble is to schedule service ASAP. To avoid problems, you can also:
- Install Additional Shut-Off Valves: If a problem occurs at a single appliance or fixture, a quarter-turn, ball-type shut-off valve lets you turn off the water locally.
- Install a Flow Sensor: Constantly monitors flow and automatically shuts off water to an appliance or the whole house if it detects a plumbing leak.
- Remove Hoses from Outdoor Spigots: Water from hoses can freeze in pipes, so remove hoses from outdoor spigots in winter. Installing frost-free hose bibs helps as well.
- Insulate Pipes: Pipes in basements, garages, and crawlspaces can freeze in cold weather and break. Cheap and easy to install, pipe insulation tubes can prevent this and help you get hot water faster.
- Avoid Hanging Things on Exposed Pipes: Hanging laundry or clothes on pipes can weigh them down and cause damage. It can also cause joints and fasteners to loosen.
- Don’t Stuff the Sink Cabinet: Crowding items under your sink can stress the water supply and drain pipes. If objects shift, they can rupture, crush a pipe, or loosen a connection.
Contact Sky Heating & Air Conditioning
Most people aren’t trained or equipped to permanently fix a water leak. Our licensed plumbing technicians can repair pipes damaged by freezing, high water pressure, clogs, ground movement, old age, or a lack of maintenance. Fortunately, we provide high-quality piping and repiping services in Portland and specialize in permanent water leak repair. We can be reached 24/7. Call 503-673-9083 in an emergency or to schedule service.