If you have even a small pinhole leak in a supply pipe, you will experience a constant drip or spray of water. Supply pipes are unlike drain pipes, which will leak only when waste water passes through them.
Supply lines are pressurized to force water from your faucets when you open them. Pressurized water will flow continuously through any opening in the line, so it's extremely important to repair any breaches, however small, in a supply pipe.
Preparing for a supply pipe repair
The most important step in repairing a supply pipe is to shut off the flow of water to the pipe until you can perform the repair. You can do this by turning off the nearest shutoff valve. If the supply line in question doesn't have a dedicated shutoff valve, you may need to shut off the main valve for the entire home. Once this is done, the entire house will be without water, so you will need to perform your repair in a timely manner.
After the water supply to the pipe is shut off, you will need to drain the pipe of any remaining water. You can do this by opening any faucets that are supplied by the pipe. Once this is done, you must clean and dry the area of the pipe that surrounds the leak. You can then choose from various pipe repair options.
What are the options for quick pipe repair?
Pipe repair clamp
This option consists of two semicircular metal pieces that are bolted together around a rubber gasket to seal a pipe leak. The gasket is wrapped around the pipe at the leak, then the two halves of the clamp are tightened around it using supplied nuts and bolts.
The main advantage of this repair option is that it provides a strong seal, which is the object of the task. However, if the leak has developed through corrosion of old galvanized steel pipe, you must be cautious when tightening the clamp to avoid crushing the compromised pipe.
This is probably the most simple option, but its effectiveness will depend upon the integrity of the pipe surface, to which it must adhere. This epoxy requires the mixing of two different materials to form a chemical reaction that makes the cured putty as hard as steel.
Plumbing epoxy is often sold in a cylindrical tube with openings at both ends. You must take an equal amount of material from each end and knead the two together until they are thoroughly blended and consistent in color. You must then press the putty against the leak and smooth out its edges. This must be done as soon as it is mixed, for it will harden within a few minutes.
Ease of use is its strongest asset, while limitations on its effectiveness based on the condition of the pipe surface is its weakest point.
Pipe repair wrap
This is simply a long length of a synthetic material that adheres to itself to form a strong seal. It will not stick to the pipe surface, and it must be stretched continuously as it is applied for maximum adherence and bonding.
You must begin by holding one end of the roll against the pipe surface near the leak, then wrap it around the pipe, stretching it as much as possible as you overlap many layers back and forth across the area of the leak. When you reach the end of the roll, give it one final stretch and press it against the surface of the overlapping wrap, not the pipe.
Pipe repair tape forms a tight seal if applied correctly, and it can be removed and reapplied with relative ease if the seal fails through the improper application.
This is a simple and effective option for repairing a pipe leak, but you must apply the wrap correctly. It must be consistently stretched as it is applied. If not, the seal will not be adequately formed and the leak contained. This is not so easy with a supply pipe that is very close to a wall or ceiling. This is the major disadvantage of this option.
If one choice fails to seal the leak, you can always try one of the other options. They are all inexpensive and readily available at a local home improvement store. Water under pressure against a homeowner under pressure: only one will be overpowered and tamed, so try every option before calling in a professional.
Contact a company like Sparrow & Sons Plumbing and Heating for more information and assistance.