No homeowner wants to discover that their pipes have sprung a leak, and even the most minor leaks can quickly grow into major ones. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to handle the situation. These quick fixes will buy you some time to troubleshoot the cause of the leak, and prevent water damage, while you wait for a plumber to arrive and fix it.
Shutting off the water supply is a crucial first step before attempting any sort of plumbing job, no matter how minor. If the leak is localized to one fixture or appliance, it’s easiest to turn the water off to that specific area rather than turning the water off to the entire home. To do so, you’ll need to find the water shutoff valve. The location of these valves can vary depending on design, but you can use the guidelines below to get a general idea:
These shutoff valves are located below the sink, close to the water supply tubes that run to the faucet. A faucet that supplies both hot and cold water will have one shutoff valve for each. This allows you to narrow down if the leak is coming from the hot or cold tap, or both.
The shutoff valve for a toilet is located near the floor, below the water supply valve on the bottom of the tank. This valve may be stiff or hard to turn due to minimal use. Carefully attempt to turn the valve clockwise and avoid using excessive force, as this can lead to leaks or breakages.
Your shower or tub may have an access panel located on the other side of the bathroom wall. If not, then some drywall will need to be removed in order to access the shutoff valve. Alternately, you could locate your home’s main shut off valve to turn off the water that way.
If you aren’t sure where a leak is coming from, or are dealing with leaks in multiple areas, turning off the water to your entire home is a solution. To do this, you’ll need to find your home’s main shut off valve. Depending on your home, this can either be located in the basement, in the garage, on an exterior wall, or buried underground near the street with a metal cover over it.
To turn off the main shut-off valve, you will likely need a tool such as a meter key. Or, you may be able to twist and open the valve with an adjustable wrench.
If you’re looking for a super quick fix for a leak and don’t want to make a trip to the hardware store, fear not. You can fashion a DIY fix using items that are likely already in your home. These fixes are temporary, and at best will buy you a day or two while you either contact a plumber or fix the leak yourself. However, in a pinch they can save you from potentially costly water damage.
For the smallest leaks, duct tape or electrical tape can be used as a temporary solution. Simply wrap the tape around the source of the leak a few times to create a tight hold. Depending on the leak, and the condition of the pipe, this fix may hold for a day or two—however, you should still contact a plumber as soon as possible to have the pipe repaired.
Instead of gathering dust in your garage, an old garden hose can be used to stop a pesky leak. Cut a section of the hose large enough to cover the hole that’s sprung a leak, with a few extra inches on each side. Then, cut the hose lengthwise and wrap it tightly around the leak. Secure the hose with plumber’s tape, or duct tape if that’s all you have available. This trick can also be used with an old bicycle inner tube or anything else made from thick rubber.
If the hole that’s causing the leak is small enough, you can temporarily plug it by putting a pencil into the hole and then breaking it, so that the pencil does not protrude too much from the hole. Then, wrap the pipe with plumber’s tape or duct tape. The pencil will block the source of the leak and the tape will reinforce the seal.
You don’t need to be an expert to use these easy plumbing tools. In fact, you’ll be able to find them at your local hardware store. While these fixes are a little more reliable than the DIY ones above, you should still plan to contact a plumber as soon as you can. After all, getting the input of a professional is always best.
Epoxy is a type of putty that hardens against whatever surface it’s stuck to. This malleable putty can be used to temporarily seal leaks. In order for the putty to adhere to the leak securely, the area around it needs to be free of any dirt or dust that could cause friction. Before applying the putty, clean the area around the leak thoroughly with a mild soap, and a lint-free cloth. Then, cut a small section of the putty and rub it between your hands until your body heat makes the putty soft enough to manipulate.
Next, apply the epoxy putty by spreading it around the leaking area of the pipe or fixture. It’s important to apply the putty as soon as its soft enough to be used, because it will harden quickly. Additionally, make sure and avoid stretching the putty too thin, as this will render it ineffective.
Pipe wraps are especially versatile, and can be used anywhere on a pipe for all sorts of leaks and cracks. To apply a pipe wrap, first clean and degrease the area of the pipe you’ll be wrapping. Then, soak the wrap in water before wrapping it around the pipe, similar to how you’d wrap a bandage around a wound. When the wrap dries, it will harden and effectively block the leak.
Repair clamps are ideal for small leaks. These metal sleeves clamp down on the pipe in the area that’s leaking. To install a repair clamp, simply place it on the pipe centered over the leak. Then, close the clamp over the pad and tighten the screws and bolts to ensure a firm hold.
While the fixes in this article might provide you a temporary reprieve from worrying about a leak, you shouldn’t rely on them long term. Even the smallest leak won’t stay small for long, and could result in major damage as it grows. Instead of taking that chance, contact the plumbing experts at Chas Roberts to fix the leak at its source and help prevent it from happening again. In the 75 years we’ve been serving the Valley, we’ve fixed leaks ranging from minor annoyances to major catastrophes in the making, and there’s no job our experts can’t handle.