Easy fixes for leaky pipe joints

Don't let a leaking pipe joint flood your home or office. Use these simple tips to get things back on track.

Easy fixes for leaky pipe joints

Tighten up and seal a compression joint

Plumbers often join two pipes together using a brass compression fitting. This consists of a brass body with a nut at either end. The nuts are tapered, and when tightened will compress a ring of copper, or "olive," against the outside of the pipe to form a watertight seal.

  • Try tightening the nuts slightly. Hold the body of the joint with a clamp and turn the nuts clockwise using an adjustable wrench. Take care not to overtighten.
  • If this doesn't work and the joint still leaks, you'll need to shut off the water supply using a service valve or by turning off the main stopcock. Undo the nuts to reveal the olives, which will be pressed against the exposed ends of the two pipes.
  • Wipe their surfaces clean and wrap the olives with one or two layers of PTFE tape to seal any small gaps. PTFE tape, also called plumber's tape, is a low-friction tape that can be bought for very little from a plumbing supply or DIY store. Replace the nuts and restore the water supply.

Fix a leaky soldered joint

  • Soldered joints are harder to fix permanently, but you can make a temporary repair by wrapping the joint with self-amalgamating tape.
  • This is a black tape that has no glued side, but which bonds to itself when stretched and overlapped. This fix may not be strong enough to stop the flow from pipes under pressure from the water main.

Water is leaking from a split pipe

Stop the flow with a temporary patch:

Freezing conditions can cause pipes to split open, giving you a problem when temperatures rise and the ice melts. You can make a temporary repair with a homemade clamp — it'll keep you dry until the plumber arrives.

Time needed  to patch a pipe: 10 minutes.

You will need: a sharp knife, two garden hose clips, a length of hosepipe or inner tube, steel wool and a screwdriver

  1. Turn off the water supply using a service valve or by turning off the main stopcock. Empty the pipe of any remaining water by opening the tap or appliance that it feeds.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut a length of inner tube, garden hose or old washing machine hose — the more flexible the better. It must be long enough to cover the split plus at least another 2.5 centimetres (one inch) at each end.
  3. Clean the pipe with steel wool to get the surface as smooth as possible.
  4. Split the hose or tube lengthwise and trim it so that it can wrap at least three-quarters of the way around the pipe.
  5. Secure the patch over the split with two hose clips, one on either side of the damaged area. Tighten the clips with a screwdriver and turn the water back on to test.
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