Have a leaky pipe? Don’t put off getting it repaired — leaks get worse far more often than they get better. Think you might have a water leak but can’t find it? Then calling in a professional plumbing service is even more important. It’s not just wasting water — dampness is encouraging mold to grow and may even lead to major (and expensive to repair) structural damage.
Leaky Pipe Problems
Freezing pipes are a rarity in the San Marcos area, but simply getting old can cause fittings and pipes to leak. Especially if they’re made of galvanized iron (commonly used before the 1970s) which corrodes and eventually fail. Excessive pressure and water hammer (pipes “banging” due to sudden changes in pressure) also lead to problems.
An unseen water leak can be revealed by reduced pressure at taps, damp spots, mold odors, or just a higher water bill. Here time definitely isn’t on your side. A small leak can remain hidden for weeks or months, causing expensive water damage all the while. And any dampness that does reveal itself can be far from the actual problem.
Do-It-Yourself Leak Repairs
Stopping a leaking pipe is more involved than fixing a leaky faucet. So much so that any effort to fix leaking pipes yourself should be considered at best a temporary fix. But as a short-term emergency measure you could try the following.
- Shut off the water supply, then open faucets to relieve the pressure.
- Assess the wetness of surrounding areas for drying needs and possibly even the need for professional water damage restoration services.
- Thoroughly dry the pipe around the leak.
- Use one of the following as a stop-gap measure on the outside of the pipe.
- Purchase and use a rubber patch kit with clamps, plates, and/or sleeves.
- Use “plumber’s” epoxy putty (for cast iron pipes only)
- Use a self-tapping plug.
- Kludge together a rubber gasket using a section of garden hose and hose clamps to cover the bad section.
- Wrap several layers of duct tape. This actually works for small leaks … for a little while.
With these methods the fix isn’t likely to hold for the long run. And if there’s been one leak more are likely to follow.
For permanent repairs galvanized iron, copper, PVC, and PEX pipes each need to be treated differently.
The first step of professional leak repair services is to accurately locate the problem. This often requires special training and electronic instruments to avoid making unnecessary holes. What happens next depends on the issue.
- Sometimes a repair simply involves tightening a joint wherever there’s threaded iron pipes or flex connectors.
- More commonly it’s necessary to cut out a very short damaged section and fill the gap with a slip coupling.
- Or it may be necessary to remove longer damaged and weak sections and install new pipe.
- If the existing plumbing is old, in poor condition, or made of a no-longer approved material it can be best in the long run to re-pipe part of the building or the entire plumbing system.