Many leaks require plumbing professionals to properly prepare, but for simple tasks or temporary repairs I find it simpler, and more cost effective to use an emergency leak repair kit. The trick is to collect the items for your kit ahead of time so that you have them available immediately the next time your sink decides to gush water.
First, let’s discuss what you shouldn’t rely on in your repair kit. Infomercials are full of miracle products that will stop your plumbing problems with a simple strip of tape or a dollop of a clay-like substance at a fraction of the cost of calling in a plumbing professional. The problem is, they also work a fraction of the time, steer clear of these too-good-to-be-true products. If they really worked, wouldn’t plumbing professionals use them to?
First Step: Shut Off the Water Valve
The first step to any plumbing fix is to stop the flow of water and get the pipe dry. This will make the problem much easier to take care of. You should learn where the plumbing fixture’s cutoff valve is. All plumbing fixtures have one, and modern plumbing with plastic tubing tend to have cutoff valves that appear to be levers, while copper piping often have knobs that are tuned to shut off the flow. Before you attempt any repair, you should make sure that these valves are closed.
Second Step: Have the Necessary Items
Your emergency repair kit for plastic plumbing should consist of several items:
- A few short lengths of pipe
- Couplings to join straight lengths together
- Something to cut the piping with.
I also like to have a nice, waterproof tape available for extra security, but this is optional.
Third Step: Remove and Replace the Old Pipe
To repair your plumbing, remove the old and damaged plumbing. For plastic, use a hacksaw to cut the piping and sand down rough cuts. Insert the repairs into new couplings or tees as a dry fit to make sure they fit and trim as needed. Once you’ve got the appropriate fit, apply the cleaner-primer and some solvent cement and put the whole thing together again.
Repairing copper will require lengths of copper tubing, a wheel-type cutter, elbows, tees, connectors, rough sandpaper, flux and solder and a propane torch.
Copper will require a bit more work as you will need to cut it with a wheel-type cutter. Once you’ve cut the piping, you will need to put the pieces together to make sure they fit. Next, sand the connecting parts, both inside and out, until they are bright. Coat the surfaces with flux.
Fourth Step: Add the Solder
Next, light your propane torch, making sure to protect anything flammable nearby like your walls or wood, and heat the seams of the joint evenly. The flux will begin to bubble and discolor and at this point you will want to remove the flame and add the solder. The solder should fill the seam and will float just a bit above the flux, but be warned that you will likely experience a few drips so make sure that you protect not only the surfaces around you, but yourself as well.
- License: Creative Commons image source