No one expects their plumbing to fail and a water leak to spring up in their home. It’s an unfortunate surprise to discover what can look like flooding in a bathroom or kitchen stemming from a leaking pipe.
Fortunately, any leaking pipe can be quickly fixed while waiting for a plumber to arrive. You can stop the water supply. You can physically plug it in various ways. If you let it pump out more, it could potentially damage the property and materials around it.
Regardless of whether a significant leak or not, it’s important to call a plumber. Have a professional assess the leak and provide insight into what permanent repair is needed. The instructions provided in this article are for the hours that it takes before the plumber can arrive. These steps will help you during the in-between and managing a leaking pipe while a repair’s being set up.
Here is a guide on how to stop a leaking pipe:
1. Turn off your water valve
The first thing to stop a leaking pipe is to turn off the main water valve. This will shut off all water throughout your home, which can be inconvenient, but it will avoid any damage from a large leak. This is why it’s important to know where the water valve is and how to turn it off.
Most homes have their water valve in the basement, but it may not be there. After the water is turned off, whatever water is left in the line will be released, and then you can get to work.
2. Clean up any water mess
Before working on a leaking pipe, address the mess it’s made. A lot of water on the floor can be problematic. It can rot the floor. It can seep through and create the ideal place where mould can grow. Using a water vacuum or towels, get the water off the ground.
Remove as much of it as you can and get everything bone-dry. If it’s a small leak, this shouldn’t take long. For larger leaks, you want to jump on it immediately.
3. Tighten coupling nuts
Look for where the pipe is leaking. If it’s at the nut, that’s excellent news. That means you probably don’t need to replace the pipe. All you have to do is tighten the coupling nut. A crack or break can occur here.
Coupling nuts connect drain pipes and the P-trap, the U-shaped pipe underneath a sink that prevents sewer gases from entering your home. A wrench will be needed to tighten the nut, and once done, test it to see if the leak’s resolved.
4. Cover the pipe with wrap
If your pipe is leaking elsewhere, you can use a pipe wrap. It’s not a permanent fix, but it’ll do temporarily. Pipe wrap can be bought from most hardware stores. It’s good for pipes at joints, middle of the pipe, and almost anywhere.
The wrap is fibreglass and is designed to wrap tightly around the pipe. Naturally, it shrinks and hardens to the pipe when it gets wet. This helps to immediately stop the leak. Most pipe wraps will last from a few days to a few weeks.
5. Apply plumbing tape to fix a leak
Plumbing tape can fix certain pipe leaks, but not just any tape will work. Plumbing tape is made from silicone. If the joint of two pipes is leaking, you can wrap several layers of plumbing tape around it. If it’s joint, you’ll need to tackle it from both sides to cover the entire area.
This will only work on small leaks, and the plumbing tape should only be expected to last a few days. You will still need to schedule a plumber’s visit at your earliest.
6. Plumbing tape over the coupling nut
If the coupling nut’s threads have been worn down, the watertight seal you need may not be there anymore. Plumbing tape can act as that seal. Unscrew the coupling nut from the P-trap. Wrap plumbing tape around the threads of the pipe.
Move the P-trap back into position, reconnecting the pipes with the coupling nut. Tighten everything. Run the water again to check if the seal is holding. This may be all you need to do, in some instances, to fix a leaking pipe.
7. Use epoxy on a leaking pipe
Plumber’s epoxy is a great resource to have on hand. It’s essentially a very strong glue capable of plugging a leak. You will need to turn off your water first and wipe the area around the leak clean and dry.
Mix the epoxy ingredients, as they usually come separate, and apply the mixture to the area. If you have plumbing tape, you can also wrap it after. Epoxy will require 24 hours to fully cure, however. You will need to keep the water off for the entirety.