Some plumbing leaks are a nuisance. A dripping faucet might keep you awake at night, and it’s wasting water, but it’s not an emergency. Other leaks, though, from cracked or damaged pipe can be a potential catastrophe and demand immediate attention, even before you call a plumber. Here’s how to temporarily fix a leaking pipe.
The first thing to do is turn off your main water valve, which will be near your water meter. Then open a faucet to relieve the pressure inside the pipes. That will stop water from continuing drip out of the pipe as you fix it.
The easiest way to temporarily fix a leaking pipe is to use plumbing epoxy. It usually comes in a putty form, almost like modeling clay. Pinch off enough of the epoxy to cover the leaky spot on the pipe. You’ll probably have to knead the epoxy a bit first to loosen it up. Then, following the manufacturer’s instructions, mold the epoxy around the leak or the pipe fitting where the water is leaking.
Let the epoxy set for a few minutes to harden. Once that’s happened, turn the water back on and check your repair.
In many cases, you’ll find a little water still making it through the patch you’ve just put in. In that case, turn off the water again and add a little more epoxy to the patch–molding it, and letting it set a few minutes as before.
Using plumbing epoxy in this way is quite effective, but don’t be complacent. You may feel like you’ve solved the problem, and there’s no need for a permanent fix to the leak. The patch should be OK for at least a few days, and it could even stretch into weeks or months. But that will always be a weak spot in your plumbing, and you’re asking for trouble if you expect the epoxy to be effective long term.
Photo (cc) Lisa Clarke