A Less Expensive Way to Fix a Leaking Water Pipe

We recently were performing an alteration to a customer’s house in DeKalb County, GA. This was an old house built in 1946. The original water pipes were run in galvanized pipe. Over the years the pipes had deteriorated and had become very brittle. When we began to apply a section of wall board to the unfinished wall, we inadvertently moved one of the pipes. The movement of the pipe caused a leak at a rusted joint in the pipe.

The first thing we did was turn the water off. There is usually a “shut off valve”, at the outside wall of the house. If there is, it most likely will be located on a line feeding one of the hose bibs. Next we used an acetylene torch to dry the pipe. You might use a hand held heater gun. You should be able to buy one at your local hardware store for less than forty dollars.

If in your case, the leak is behind the wall you need to locate the leak with a leak detector. A leak detector can be purchased for about thirty dollars. If you can’t get one locally go to the link called “contractor supplies”. You will be able to purchase both or all the items you need there.

In our case the leak was exposed to view, so after turning the water off at the meter (this house did not have a shut off valve). We dried the pipe, wire brushed the leak location, then with a pair of scissors, neatly cut a strip of tin foil about ten inches long. The leak was in a one inch pipe so the tin foil was folded in half. To the tin foil, a film of PERFECTLY mixed two part epoxy was applied then wrapped around the pipe at the spot of the leak and about a half inch in both directions away from the location of the leak.

The tin foil served as a type of form or dam to hold the epoxy in place allowing it to cure without displacement, similar to wood forms used to contain wet concrete until it has had the time required to setup. The next day we turned the water back on. You should open a few faucets in the house before turning the water on.

Leak fixed, and no expensive plumbing contractor costs. This will work on copper or PVC pipe. With PVC pipe you may need to roughen the pipe with a file, wire brush, small grinder or a similar tool. With both copper and PVC you should use the appropriate pipe cleaner readily available at any hardware store. I recommend wearing rubber gloves to make a repair to any pipe with the procedures and materials as described here.

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