How to fix a leaking pipe
Finding a leaking pipe can be a real nightmare. Aside from potentially causing water damage in your home, it’s likely to also affect your boiler pressure, central heating and hot water supply.
Most people tend to call a plumber when they have a pipe leak. If you have home emergency insurance with Hometree, the cost of repairs to your pipes will be covered by your policy. We’ll get a qualified plumber out to you ASAP (within 24 hours) and offer both evening and weekend appointments for your convenience.
But you don’t necessarily need to wait for a professional plumber to repair your pipe leak. If it’s a minor leak with an easy fix, you may be able to do it yourself. At the very least you may be able to temporarily stop it, until it can be properly repaired.
Here we’ll provide a quick guide to fixing a leaking pipe. As always, only carry out DIY repairs if you are confident in doing so and have the correct tools. It’s worth bearing in mind that you may void some insurance policies if you cause additional damage to your pipework when attempting a repair.
Turn off the water supply
Before attempting to fix leaking pipe work in your home, you should always turn the water supply off. This can either be done at the water valve on the pipe, closest to the leak, or at the stopcock, which is probably located under your kitchen sink. Usually, you can turn the water supply off by hand but you may need a flat-head screwdriver to tackle a water valve.
Drain the taps
Our next piece of advice is to completely drain all of the water from the leaking pipe, so you aren’t hit with more water unexpectedly. Turn on the taps sourced by the pipe. When the water stops flowing from the taps and the pipe, you know it’s all gone.
We then suggest drying off the pipe with a towel and covering your floor to protect it.
Identifying the cause of the leak
Different types of leaks have different fixes. Take a look at the pipe and see if you can work out why it is leaking. Here we’ve shared a few tips on how to stop a leaking pipe with relatively easy fixes.
Loose joint - If it’s just a cause of having a loose pipe joint, you’ll simply need to tighten it up. Some joints in pipework can be tightened by hand but it’s worth having a spanner handy, just in case.
Crack or split pipe – If the pipe has cracked or split, it’s likely to be as a result of corrosion. However, pipes can also split if accidentally hit during DIY work.
The severity of the damage will decide whether the pipe can be repaired or whether it needs replacing. You may be able to do a temporary ‘stop-gap’ repair using one of the methods below.
How to seal a leaky pipe
Tape - If you need a quick, temporary fix for a leaky pipe in an emergency, we suggest grabbing some waterproof duct tape. Make sure the pipe is bone-dry and apply the tape. Keep wrapping it tightly around the pipe until it is completely sealed.
Epoxy paste – You could also try covering the crack with epoxy paste and rubber. Wait for it to set and it should temporarily stop the leak.
Self-tapping plugs – Most DIY and hardware stores sell pipe patch kits and self-tapping plugs. These are plugs you can insert into the hole in your pipe and they will expand to fit them.
Whichever temporary fix you go for don’t be too quick to turn your water back on. Leave it at least an hour or two to give the repair time to set.
How to fix a copper pipe leak at the joint
Threaded pipes and copper fittings are prone to leaks. To prevent future problems or repair a current leak, we recommend that you seal them with either Teflon tape i.e. plumber’s tape or a spray sealant for water leaks.
Believe it or not, there’s a right and a wrong way to use Teflon tape. It needs to be wrapped around the pipe in the opposite direction of how the pipe turns into the fitting. Follow the steps below on how to use plumbers tape correctly:
- Clean the pipe with a clean rag
- Place the end of the pipe leak tape on the second thread from the end of the pipe and hold it in place
- Wrap the tape around the pipe in the opposite direction to the way the pipe turns into the fitting
- Make sure the pipe leak tape is wrapped tightly and overlap it as you go
- Wrap it around 4-6 times
- Break the tape off and smooth down over your pipe
- Leave for an hour or two before turning the water back on
If you like, you can use a spray sealant for water leaks in addition to the plumber’s tape to make the pipework even more resilient. You can pick up a spray sealant from your local hardware store or online.
Don’t leave a pipe temporarily fixed for too long
Temporary fixes can last years but that doesn’t mean they should. Even if you manage to temporarily fix your pipe, if there is an on-going problem like corrosion, it’s only a matter of time before it starts leaking again or another pipe bursts elsewhere.
Get your pipes looked at by a qualified plumber, who will be able to assess their current state. They’ll let you know if any of the pipework needs replacing and how much it’s going to cost. It’s better to prevent a pipe leak than have to deal with the inconvenience and cost of water damage caused by a burst pipe.
The best way to save money on leaking pipe repairs is to take out emergency home care. For a small monthly or annual charge, you’ll be protected for plumbing work and other home emergencies like failed central heating and faulty electrics.
To find out more information about our home care policy, which includes all of the above and more, get in touch today on 0800 368 9881.