Handy tips for fixing loud or leaky pipes

Your home's pipes are out of sight and out of mind — until they leak or groan. Luckily, there are various things you can try to fix them yourself before calling the plumber. Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Wrap a belt around a pipe and pull it tight to make a strap wrench. Hook the belt buckle on a nail driven into a 2.5 by 5 centimetre (1 by 2 inch) block of wood, then exert leverage with the wood.
  • The threads or spiral ridges on a plastic pipe may stick while the pipe is being unscrewed, causing the pipe to break off. Use a gas torch to heat the jaws of a pair of long-nose pliers. Insert the pliers into the threaded section and slowly push the handles apart until the jaws make grooves in the plastic. Remove the pliers and let the plastic harden, then insert the pliers and twist to unscrew the broken pipe.
  • "Water hammer" is the loud noise you sometimes hear throughout the house every time you turn off a tap. A quickly closing valve, loose pipework or a combination of both are common causes. Trace your pipework and secure any loose sections with pipe saddles to help reduce water hammer.
  • If water hammer is affecting pipe work concealed within walls, try turning down the water pressure slightly at your main shut off valve (usually a pipe coming up from the ground). If the problem persists, have a plumber fit a water hammer arrestor in the line closest to the problem valve.
  • If your water usage is higher than usual for no obvious reason, it could be a hidden leak. Check the water meter reading right before heading to bed and again first thing in the morning. If the reading indicates use, call in a plumber to track down the leak and fix it.
  • To stop a loose pipe inside a shower wall from moving around and banging, remove the cover from the wall and tape the offending pipe into position. Then spray aerosol foam insulation into the wall cavity. Once the foam is dry, it should be hard enough to hold the pipe firmly in position, and the banging noise should stop.

Keep these helpful tips in mind and you'll be on your way to fixing a few plumbing problems yourself.

Handy tips for fixing loud or leaky pipes
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