Under normal conditions, the copper pipes that are commonly used to carry water in most homes are durable and long-lasting. They do, however, sometimes develop leaks that can cause severe damage to your home or business. A plumbing leak is especially common during cold weather when frozen water in the pipes can cause pipe walls to crack or poorly soldered joints to loosen.
Do-it-yourselfers can sometimes make temporary repairs to keep water pipes in service until permanent repairs can be made. Temporary pipe leak repairs allow toilets, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures to remain in use. They are also often expedient because many water emergencies happen at awkward times – on weekends or at night – when getting a plumber is more difficult or impossible. Still, they are “temporary” and should never be depended on as a long-term solution.
Here are some temporary solutions you can use to stop a leaking pipe from leaking until you can call a plumber. The important thing to remember is to have these things available, in your home, before the emergency happens, not after. Don’t be fixing the door after the horses have already come home.
Special clamp-type pipe sealers, commonly referred to by plumbers as band-aids, can be used to temporarily repair a leak and are available at some hardware stores. These generally consist of two mating plates that are screwed together around the pipe. A rubber gasket is placed over the leak and compressed against it by the clamp. These can be a useful temporary fix that’ll allow the pipe to remain in use, but do not be deceived into thinking you can rely on this permanently. As soon as possible, have a plumber perform a more permanent repair.
Ordinary hose clamps, sold at hardware stores and auto parts stores, and a piece of sheet rubber can also temporarily seal many pipe leaks.Pipe clamps can be found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store. Easy enough. The hose clamps should be the type with screw tighteners and should be a bit larger in diameter than the pipe. For example, use a clamp that opens to at least 3/4 inch to repair a 1/2-inch pipe.
Sheets of rubber can also be found in the hardware store, either next to the bathtubs and showers where they are used as liners, or in the gardening section with the ponds.
To seal a small leak, one clamp compressing rubber directly over the hole will often do the trick. For larger cracks or holes, extend the rubber well past the defect on both sides and use several clamps spaced along the rubber. When the rubber and clamps are in position, turn the clamp screws tight.
Money Saving Tip: An economical source of rubber, if it’s available to you, is an old inner tube from a bicycle tire.
Special silicone repair tape will seal small holes or leaks at pipe joints. This “melding” tape is wrapped tightly around the defect and bonds to itself and the pipe to form a solid temporary seal. This kind of repair will get you through a weekend until you can call your local plumber. It would be wise to prepare a small kit of emergency pipe repair devices and keep the kit in a place that is both easily accessible and easy to remember – near the main water valve, for example.
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