How to Fix a Leaking Pipe

Every homeowner has a responsibility to make sure their pipes and drains are kept in good working order, and that they know what to do when problems arise. Without this knowledge, a leaky pipe can quickly go from being a minor annoyance to a major problem, leading to domestic flooding, infrastructure damage and expensive repairs.

If you notice a leaking pipe in your home, it is usually advisable to call on a professional plumber or drainage expert to diagnose and repair the problem. However, it is also useful to know how to implement a temporary fix to prevent any more water from dripping out and causing damage to your property.

Here, the experts at Lanes Group will explain what to do when you find a leaky pipe in your home, and how to know when you might need to call in a professional to carry out the work.

Turn off your water supply

Leaking pipes can create a number of problems. The leaking water can cause considerable damage to the surrounding area – especially if it is a drain pipe carrying dirty wastewater. The leak could also affect your boiler pressure, hot water supply and central heating.

As such, your first priority should always be to switch off the water supply to the damaged pipe in question. This will not be necessary if the leak is coming from a drain pipe that does not carry a water supply, but in all other cases you should close off the water valve on the pipe closest to the leak, or at the stopcock that controls the mains water flow, which is usually located under the kitchen sink. In the latter case, this will stop the supply of water to all the pipes at the same time.

You will be able to turn off the water either by turning a tap or using a flat-head screwdriver to close the local valve. It may also be wise to switch off your electricity at the mains if the pipe leak is located near a socket or switch, as this may need to dry out before it can be safely switched back on.

Drain the taps

Once the water supply to the leaky pipe has been switched off, you will need to drain all of the water out of it, or else you may risk more water escaping while trying to fix the pipe. You can do this by turning on all of the taps sourced by the leaking pipe and running them until the water stops flowing.

Once you have done this, you should dry the pipe off to make sure it is not too slippery when you are trying to work on it. It is also advisable to place a towel or bucket underneath the area of the pipe leakage to protect the floor in case any more water comes out.

Examine the cause of the pipe leak

Once the leaking pipe has been drained and isolated, you will be able to examine the area more closely to find out why it is leaking. A damaged pipe will be easy to spot as you will be able to see a crack or split – or perhaps you will already know that the pipe was damaged after being accidentally struck during a DIY project, for example.

However, the pipe may not be damaged. Instead, a joint may have come loose, meaning it no longer provides a watertight seal. If this is the case, this can easily be fixed simply by using a spanner to tighten the connection. In some cases, it may be possible to tighten this by hand, although a spanner will always provide a secure connection.

Seal the leaking pipe

Pipe leaks that are caused by a crack or a split will need to be sealed before the water can be switched back on. There are various methods available to do so, all of which can be performed using materials that can be easily purchased from your local hardware store:

  • Tape – there are various tape products that can be used to seal up a pipe leak, including rubber tape, waterproof duct tape and fibreglass tape. This can be applied simply by making sure the pipe is dry, and then wrapping the tape tightly around the affected area to create a watertight connection.
  • Epoxy putty – also known as plumber’s putty, this is a cheap and affordable leak repair solution that can be applied to the affected area, where it will dry to create an effective seal. Some brands of epoxy putty need to be mixed before use, while others are ready to use; in either case, you will need to dry the pipe before applying epoxy putty to the crack. This should be done quickly before it starts to harden; once you have shaped it around the pipe, you can let it cure for around an hour before switching the water supply back on.
  • Pipe repair clamp – this simple device consists of two metal plates and a rubber patch, which are placed over the hole in the pipe and tightened in place via a bolting system in order to cover the damage. When purchasing pipe clamps, you must be careful to find a product that is sized correctly for your pipes, and for the leak in question. They also need to be applied securely enough for watertight connections, but not so tight as to damage the pipe further.
  • Slip coupling – this is a more DIY-intensive repair method as it involves using a pipe cutter or hacksaw to remove the damaged area of the pipe and replace it with a small watertight slip coupling to connect the two ends back together. You will need to measure the diameter and length of the pipe carefully, and make sure the slip coupling is sized correctly. When they are attached, you will then need to tighten the connection with a spanner, although you may also be able to use rubber pipe connectors that can simply be pushed into place.

Call in the professionals for a permanent fix

Each of these solutions will be an effective means of preventing the immediate issues caused by leaky pipes. However, with the exception of a high-quality slip coupling, each of them represents only a temporary fix, and you will still need to call in a professional plumber or drainage expert to implement a more permanent repair or replacement.

It is also worth bearing in mind that not all pipe leaks can be repaired by yourself. This is especially the case when the damage affects a larger pipe, or part of the drainage pipe network that is located underground or within the infrastructure of your property.

To find out more about our domestic drain repair and relining services, get in touch with the experts at Lanes Group. Give us a call on 0800 526 488 to learn more.