Sneaky Leaks: How to Find and Fix a Broken Pipe

Posted on: Oct 21, 2021   | LEAKS, PLUMBING

Fix a Broken Pipe

Are you a resident or business owner in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, thinking that you might have a water leak on your hands?

You might have tried tracking it down with no success. Perhaps you’ve found a water patch, and you’re not sure whether it’s just condensation. Have you considered a leaky, broken pipe?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a staggering 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted in household leaks annually nationwide. That’s equal to the water use in 11 million or more homes. The EPA also estimates that the average household leak is close to 10,000 gallons. Also that 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 or more gallons per day.

Do you want to avoid costly repair bills, prevent property damage from water, and ward off a future mold problem? You can’t afford to let a leak go unnoticed.

We’re going to explain how to find leaks, fix them, and prevent them from happening in the first place. Read on!

Finding Leaks

If you can see a patch of water, then the leak has announced itself to you. However, it makes sense to inspect your plumbing regularly regardless. If you have an older house, this is especially important since many of your pipes may have started corroding.

To verify if you have a broken pipe, turn off all your household faucets (and don’t run the washer/dishwasher). Then make a note of the numbers on your water meter. After an hour or two, if these numbers haven’t changed, then you don’t have a broken pipe in your house water system itself.

Any water that you see might have another source, such as a window leak or a leak in a pipe that supplies your house. Sometimes a greener patch of grass or a pool of water on your lawn can tip you off that a buried external pipe has burst.

If the water meter numbers changed during your test, first look inside all kitchen, bathroom, and laundry cabinets or sinks. Also, look at the base of your toilet, bath/shower, water tank, washer, and dishwasher. If you see water pooling, turn off the supply valve and have it inspected by a leak detection and repair service.

Temporary Fix

Once you’re sure there’s a leak, you’ll want to stop the leaky pipe as fast as possible to limit the damage. Turn off the water valve and turn on any faucets that are connected to the pipe, to drain the excess water. Use a towel to remove any remaining water until the area is completely dry.

A trick that some plumbers use is to insert a sharpened pencil in the hole that is causing the leak and snap it off.

The next step is to cover the pencil lead that’s plugging the hole with epoxy. A putty knife is useful for spreading it over the area. You could also omit the pencil lead trick and instead, just use the epoxy.

Next, it’s advisable to cover the epoxy with a piece of rubber, garden hose, or inner-tube. Make sure it extends a few inches beyond the leaking area of the pipe when you cut it. When it’s wrapped around the area, tighten it in place with metal hose clamps.

After an hour, wrap a few layers of waterproof tape around the rubber/pipe and turn the water back on to make sure the leak has been temporarily fixed. A quick fix like this might buy you some time, but a pipe repair should be carried out by a qualified plumber as soon as possible.

Permanent Fix

If you believe you are competent enough to carry out a permanent fix, we’ll run through the steps involved below.

After working out how much of the pipe needs replacing, you will need to purchase this length of pipe from a plumbing/hardware store, along with any of the other items mentioned that you don’t have already.

Drain water from the pipe by turning on connected faucets, as above. Next, a pipe cutter/hacksaw is used to take out the length of the broken pipe.

Use emery cloth and a fitting brush to polish both the inner and outer surfaces of the pipes. Both the existing and new pipes need preparing in this way. Soldering flux should be applied to both sides of the pipe, and then they are soldered together.

When the pipe has cooled, turn the water back on and verify that the permanent fix was successful.

Preventing Leaks

One of our best tips for preventing leaks is to keep an eye on your water bill. You may use more water in summer, but for the rest of the year, your usage should be fairly consistent. When comparing months over time, if you notice a sudden ramping up of usage, this could be a solid clue to a leak.

Even if you spot a suspicious increase in usage on your bill, you may not see a leak if the pipe is hidden underground. Getting a plumber to inspect your pipes annually is a good idea so that corroded pipes are replaced before they can spring a leak.

You should perform a regular check on all exposed pipes, looking for drips and listening for the sound of water dripping in a place that isn’t exposed. If a pipe within a wall is leaking, you might notice yellow/brown discoloration to the wall or ceiling in front of it. Because they aren’t easy to spot, this sort of leak can lead to major damage over time.

Lastly, you can purchase leak detectors and put them in high-risk zones, such as under a sink or water tank. At the first sign of water, an alarm will alert you before the problem escalates.

Replacing Broken Pipe

We’ve given you some tips on preventing and finding leaks, as well as advice on dealing with a broken pipe. Don’t test the limits of your temporary fix—a leaking pipe usually needs repairing or replacing by a professional.

If you’re in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow area of Oklahoma and need a leak located and fixed, we can help you. We are an affordable plumbing service, offering 24-hour same-day work that is fully licensed, insured, and guaranteed.

Contact us today to schedule a service.

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