Temporary fix for a leaking water pipe
Help and advice
A leaky pipe in your home should be dealt with as swiftly as possible to avoid any further problems developing and to minimise water damage.
In the following article, we’ll explain how to temporarily fix a leaking pipe until it can be permanently repaired or replaced by a professional.
We’ll also look at some of the common reasons for leaky pipes and how you can reduce the risk of having to deal with them again in the future.
How to detect a water leak
A quick and simple method for checking for a water leak is to take a reading from your water meter and compare it to another reading two hours later.
During this time, make sure that you don’t use any water inside or outside your home. If the reading has changed since starting the leak detection test, then you probably have a water leak somewhere.
Start by isolating your water supply
Before starting any work on your home plumbing, make sure you've closed off the water supply to your home. This is easy to do using your stopcock (water isolation valve), which can usually be found in your kitchen.
Once you’ve isolated the water supply, you should run your taps to drain the system of any excess water. Carrying out both of these steps will make sure a little trickle doesn’t turn into an emergency water leak.
How to fix a water leak using epoxy putty
Epoxy putty is a two-part mixture that, when mixed together, turns into a hard material that can bond to metals. You can buy it from your local DIY or hardware shop. Make sure you also get some sandpaper (if you don’t have any) to prepare the pipe for bonding with the putty.
1. Start by using a cloth to remove any moisture around the area of the pipe that’s damaged.
2. Carefully use the sandpaper to buff the same area of the pipe to create the ideal surface texture for the epoxy putty.
3. When you’re ready, mix the two parts of the epoxy putty together (following the instructions provided in the packet) and place the putty over the damaged area of the pipe.
4. Use a smoothing knife or wallpaper scraper at this point to smooth out the surface of the putty.
5. Leave the epoxy putty to harden. This should only take a few minutes, but specific times for your brand of adhesive will be listed in the instructions it came with.
When you’re ready, turn the water supply to your house back on and check the pipe to see if the putty has provided an adequate seal. If the leak persists, then you may need to repeat the process with more putty and test again.
Be aware that epoxy putty is just a quick fix for leaking pipe. It’s not a longterm solution and the leak is likely to return within a few days. Hopefully, this will be enough time for you to hire a professional plumber to fix the problem for you.
How to fix a leak using jubilee clips
For this to work, you’ll need three jubilee clips and a section of rubber tubing. This tubing will need to have enough length to be able to wrap around the leaky section of the pipe completely.
A section of hosepipe is ideal. Using a pair of scissors or garden clippers, cut the pipe lengthways and then follow the steps below:
1. Wrap the section of tubing around the damaged pipe and clip in place using the jubilee clips.
2. Ideally, you should have one clip either end of the rubber tubing and one directly over the hole in the pipe. Tighten each of the clips until you feel you’ve created a seal.
3. Reopen the water supply to see if the leak still persists.
If you find the pipe is still leaking, you can try repeating the same process. This time wrap the damaged area in duct tape before applying the rubber tubing.
Remember, this is only a temporary (and crude) fix. You should still contact a professional plumber straight away for a more permanent solution.
What causes pipes to leak?
Here are some common reasons for leaky pipes, including recommendations on how to avoid it.
Pipes can often freeze during winter months resulting in rapid expansion of the frozen water. If the water cannot then expand down the pipe it will increase outwards instead, resulting in the cracking of the pipe.
To stop this from happening, wrap pipes with lagging (insulation) in areas where the pipes will most likely be exposed to cold temperatures. This includes places such as your garage or utility cupboards.
You can buy lagging from your local DIY or hardware store in a variety of thicknesses. Here are the recommended sizes for specific pipe diameters:
- 15mm pipe: 25mm
- 22-28 mm pipe: 19mm
- 35mm and over pipe: 9mm.
Nailing holes through pipes
You should never hammer a nail into a wall without checking for cables and pipes first. You can do this using a cable/wire detector - they're relatively cheap and available from most DIY or hardware shops.
What are the dangers of an emergency water leak?
If left long enough, a leak can result in flooding, potentially causing thousands of pounds of damage to your home. Flooding also poses other potential risks too, such as electrified water, or contamination with sewage water from your drains.