We recently received an interesting e-mail from a customer of ours named Constance from Cardinal, Ontario. She shared with us that while she was in Florida this past January, the water line that had been installed to their house fifty years ago had sprung a leak at the street. She contacted the city to shut the water off and planned to look after repairing the line when they returned from their holidays at the end of March.
She had been advised that twenty years ago, a repair near the city’s main line had been done by a local plumber, but to her amazement, the local plumbers did not want the job of repairing just the leak. They wanted to bring in a back hoe, dig up her front yard, remove the maple tree as well as remove parts of her deck to install a brand new copper line from the city’s main line to their house, all for a minimum cost of $3500!!
In addition to the sizable cost, Constance did not want to lose her maple tree and part of her deck, so she dug up the area with a round-nosed shovel. She was able to locate two small hair-linecracks caused from frost damage at the copper joints located between the mainline and the galvanized line to her home.
In an effort to learn how to fix this problem herself, she went online and the local public works superintendent brought her a roll of LLFA Compression Tape. She used the tape and, in her words, “WOW …we actually stopped those leaks!”
This is a good example of how costly the removal and replacement of leaky pipes can be. Although there are times when you may need to contact a professional, learning how to spot and repair leaks on your own can greatly minimize your cost and frustration and over-priced contractors.
As soon as you spot a leak, deal with it immediately. This can be tricky, and may take up a good part of your day, but will prevent further costly damage being done to your home.
First, find a bucket or a bowl and put it underneath the leak to catch the dripping water. Then, turn off the water supply to that area. This is done by finding the valve on the supply pipe and turning it clockwise. If you can’t find this, turn off the water for the entire house at the main, which is located where the cold water pipe enters the building.
TIP: If the leak is in the ceiling and water is dripping through from a specific spot, make a small hole in the ceiling with a screwdriver and place a bucket underneath to catch the drips. This may prevent the water from building up and bringing the whole ceiling down.
Option 1: For a quick fix, you’ll need a pipe clamp, or a length of hose and a C-Clamp, which you can get at your local Home Depot or hardware store. Stick the pipe clamp over the leaky pipe, or if you don’t have one of these on hand, improvise with a piece of rubber clipped from a hose. Make sure it is longer than the damage in the pipe, then slice it lengthwise and wrap it against the pipe. Hold it in place with a C-clamp and two blocks of wood; this should secure the leak as a temporary measure.
Option 2: Epoxy Putty. This easily molded stuff is good for joints and fittings. Clean the pipes with a cloth first to get rid of any dirt and dust. To ensure your hands are protected, you can use rubber gloves before applying. Mix the putty as per the manufacturer’s instructions and then once it’s soft and pliable, press it around the leak, making sure there is good coverage. It will take anywhere from a couple of hours to a day to dry, depending on the product.
Option 3: Use a sealant tape, such as LLFA Compression Tape, which you can now purchase in strip packs at all Home Depot Stores across Canada, or at most plumbing supply stores throughout Ontario. This is a strong, water-tight self-fusing tape that can easily be wrapped around pipes. This will not only stop the leak, but will help you avoid the costly expense of replacing the pipes.
TIP 2: If the leak has been an on-going one and there is noticeable damage to the surrounding wood and areas near the leak, be sure to call a licensed professional. Excessive water damage can cause mould and rot, which, if left untreated, can affect the structural stability of your home.