If you find that a pipe is leaking in your house, there are a few quick fixes you can make until a plumbing professional is able to come out and assess the extent of the issue. But your first step should always be to turn off the water supply valve. If the leak is in a water supply pipe beneath a sink, turn off the water supply valves under the sink. Otherwise, turn off your home’s main water supply valve to limit the amount of water that can cause damage.
If your pipe is hemorrhaging water and you don't have enough time to make it to a store to get the necessary supplies, try to use items that you have on hand. If the hole is small, stick a pencil point into it. Wrap the pipe with an electrician's tape and use putty if you have it to ensure it doesn't leak. This should buy you enough time to call a professional or make permanent repairs. Try wrapping a piece of rubber around the pipe, then using a C-clamp and blocks of wood to hold it in place. Don’t clamp down too hard or you’ll bend or damage the pipe. These items can potentially minimize damage and allow you to keep the main water valve on to supply the rest of the house. Your next step should be to call a plumber or get materials to fully fix the problem.
Patching up a pipe will be much more effective than using items within reach. Epoxy compounds and pipe wraps can be applied anywhere on the pipe for all types of leaks and cracks. This ensures that the pipe will hold until it can be replaced or fully repaired. Depending on the damage, it may be more cost-effective to put in a new pipe section, but this quick fix can give you the time to make necessary repairs on your own schedule.
Finding the Main Water Shutoff Valve
The main valve is the one to stop most plumbing catastrophes, such as a burst pipe. Make sure that everyone in the household knows where this valve is located and knows how to turn it off. Turning the handle clockwise closes the valve. You need to turn the handle several turns to fully close a gate valve.
The main shutoff valve in your house probably has one of two designs:
- Gate valve: Gate valves are very reliable and last for years, but they become difficult to turn after not being turned for years. If you haven’t closed the main shutoff valve since you moved into your house, do it now. Better to find out that you can’t turn it with your bare hands now than to wait until you’re standing in 6 inches of water.
- Ball valve: Houses with plastic or copper main water pipes leading into the house may have a full-flow ball valve. This valve is open when the handle is aligned with the pipe. To close it, turn the handle clockwise 1/4 turn so that it’s at a right After you’ve closed and opened the valve, it may start to leak a bit around the valve stem. The stem of the valve is held in place with a packing nut. Tighten this nut just enough to stop the leak. Don’t overtighten it or the valve is difficult to turn again. (If you need a cheat sheet to remember which way to turn the control, use a label or tag with the simple reminder: “Right off” with an arrow pointing right, for example.)
After you’ve closed and opened the valve, it may start to leak a bit around the valve stem. The stem of the valve is held in place with a packing nut. Tighten this nut just enough to stop the leak. Don’t overtighten it or the valve is difficult to turn again. (If you need a cheat sheet to remember which way to turn the control, use a label or tag with the simple reminder: “Right off” with an arrow pointing right, for example.)
Any time you shut off the water and allow the pipes to drain, unscrew the aerators (small screens) on the ends of all faucets before you turn the water back on. Doing so keeps the small particles of scale that may shake loose from inside the pipes from clogging the small holes in these units.
Call a Professional
Although this fix might not be as fast as the other two, a plumbing expert can easily and quickly address an assortment of leak issues and will have the tools on hand to get the job right the first time. This will get your plumbing system a permanent, reliable fix and provide you peace of mind knowing that your pipes were repaired correctly. JCN Plumbing experts are licensed, experienced, and fully capable of repairing any leaking water pipe. Plumbers can also fully replace a damaged section of pipe if needed or will provide you with options to patch the hole.
Fixing a leaking pipe can be difficult if tackled on your own. With these quick tips, you'll be able to lessen or hold the leak until you can call a professional or gather the materials to make permanent fixes. Call JCN Plumbing today to help with your leaking pipes.