How to Temporarily Fix a Broken Pipe

Plumbing leaks are a common problem and can happen for a number of reasons including corrosion, clogs, high water pressure, or broken joints. Many pipes and plumbing connections are hidden inside walls and you may not notice a leak right away. Even a minor leak can turn into a disaster before you know it, so as soon as you notice any signs of a water leak, it’s important to act fast to minimize the damage. 

Steps to Take While Waiting for the Plumber

Leakage Of Water From plastic Pipe under sink in laundry room

Having a few tools and supplies readily available is always a good idea. A plunger, drain snake, and adjustable wrench are essential plumbing tools for any homeowner. A few inexpensive supplies including duct tape, plumber’s putty, or epoxy can help you deal with minor plumbing leaks while waiting for professional help to arrive. 

How to handle a broken pipe depends on the type of leak and its location. Here are a few suggestions for how to make temporary pipe repairs.

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Before you can patch a leaky pipe, you have to stop the water from flowing through it. Knowing where the shut-off valves in your home are located and how to operate them is critical. Individual shut-off valves for toilets, sinks, and other fixtures should be regularly inspected and replaced if they aren’t working properly. Having an easy-to-access and operate main water shut-off valve installed is a good investment.

2. Drain the Traps 

After the water supply is turned off, completely drain all of the water from the leaking pipe. Turn on the faucets sourced by the pipe. When the water stops flowing from the taps and the pipe, you’re ready to dry the pipe off. No patch will stick to a wet surface, so take a clean rag and thoroughly dry the pipe. Clean up any standing water and clear the area to make it easier to work safely.

3. Tighten Loose Joints

Different types of leaks have different fixes. If the leak is located at a threaded joint, use an adjustable wrench to tighten the joint. Be careful not to overtighten - damaged or old pipes can break under added pressure. If tightening doesn’t completely stop the leak, it may at least slow the leak down. If the pipe doesn’t have threads or if you see signs of welding, don’t attempt to tighten it. A professional plumber will need to handle the problem.

4. Patch Small Holes with Tape

For very small holes (“pinholes”), wrap electrical or duct tape around the pipe several times to create a tight hold. Make sure the pipe is completely dry before you apply tape. This is a quick and temporary fix - depending on the size of the hole and the condition of the pipe, this repair may last for several hours or even a few days.

5. Try Epoxy Putty

You can use epoxy putty to fill small holes or cracks. Follow the directions on the package. Generally, you break a small piece of epoxy off and mold it in your hands to activate it. Then press the putty down over the hole or crack. It will set and harden, preventing water from leaking out. Make sure you use enough epoxy to thoroughly patch the hole and create a tight seal.

6. Use a Clamp Kit

Leaks can also be temporarily repaired using a pipe repair clamp kit which is sold in hardware and plumbing supply stores. Make sure to purchase the right size for your particular pipe. The clamp’s rubber sleeve should be centered over the damaged area. It should extend at least one inch past the leak on each side. Mount the pipe clamp over the sleeve and carefully tighten the clamp screws.

Is it an Emergency Plumbing Issue?

Maintenance plumber service home bathroom in repair of plastic polypropylene water pipes in hole wall

The size and severity of a broken pipe will determine whether a temporary repair is possible. For larger leaks or worse, a burst pipe, turn off the main water supply and call an emergency plumber immediately. A burst pipe needs immediate repair by an experienced plumber who will have the training and tools to handle the problem properly.

Don’t rely on temporary fixes. While it may be tempting to ignore small leaks, it will cost time, energy, and more money in the long run if you don’t have a damaged pipe professionally repaired. Even the smallest leak has the potential to cause significant damage to ceilings, walls, and flooring. Water leaks can lead to mold and mildew growth and also become a breeding ground for termites, carpenter ants, and other pests. 

Your home’s plumbing system isn’t something you want to take a chance on. The professionals at Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter have the training and experience to handle all of your plumbing needs. Call us at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

Our technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience. We understand that plumbing emergencies can happen at any time, that’s why we offer emergency plumbing services at no extra cost. 

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