The ULTIMATE Leaky Copper Pipe Fix Guide

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Welcome back to another article/video!

TOOLS:

Pipe dope I used: https://amzn.to/2IEasNp

Deburring pen: https://amzn.to/2IEasNp

Sharkbite depth gauge & deburring tool: https://amzn.to/2IEasNp

Supplies:

Step 1: 8 Ways to Fix a Leaky Copper Pipe

What’s up guys and welcome back to another article, in this article I’ll be showing you 8 ways to repair a copper pipe in the event of a burst due to freezing in winter, an accidental perforation or a simple pinhole due to corrosion.

Repairing a copper pipe could seem intimidating, but it’s super easy to do. Some of the methods I use in this video are code and some aren’t. Most times when something like this occurs, having it repaired by a certified plumber doesn’t always happen the same day, and, we all know that going without water is easier said than done.

So if you wanna temporarily stop the leak to be able to keep using water until a permanent repair could be arranged, here are 8 easy ways to get it done yourself:

Step 2: 2 Couplings and a Piece of Pipe

1/2" soldered couplings: https://amzn.to/2EwxSzV

1/2" repair coupling: https://amzn.to/2VkLNPh

Starting off with number 1: Using 2 couplings and a piece of pipe. This is by far the most common and up to code way of repairing a leaky copper pipe but requires some soldering. This should be your first go-to method for fixing a burst, perforation or pinhole in any case. To do it, all you need is 2 couplings the same size as the pipe, and a piece of pipe. If your water isn’t already shut off, go ahead and close it before starting the fix. Cut out the damaged area using a pipe cutter and deburr the inside of the pipe before assembling everything together, you could either use a dedicated pencil reamer like this one or you could simply use a utility knife to get the pipe back to its original size. If for whatever reason the pipes don’t have any play in them like this, you’ll need what they call a repair coupling which doesn’t have a stopper in it like normal couplings would. This allows for you to slip it on the pipe as such to be able to fit the new piece of pipe in place. Once you got it in place, pull the coupling back onto the pipe, ensuring that both pipes meet in the middle of the coupling, then proceed to soldering. If you’re unfamiliar with soldering, I have an easy to follow, step by step guide on how to do so, this video helped out thousands of people learn how to solder just after watching it 1 time, so I’ll put the link right here (How to solder) for you to watch it. Once you are done, wipe the excess flux and test it to make sure it doesn’t leak.

Step 3: Fix With Compression Fittings

1/2" compression fittings: https://amzn.to/2EctzZo

Number 2: is using compression couplings. This has to be the most user-friendly way of permanently repairing a leak for a DIYer. These fittings are made out of 3 components, the fitting, a sleeve, and a retainer nut. When the retainer nut is tightened, the sleeve is squeezed between it, the fitting and the pipe, making for a very secure and leak free joint. To install them, cut out the damaged area using a pipe cutter and ream the inside of the pipe before assembling everything together, you could either use a dedicated pencil reamer like this one, or you could simply use a utility knife to get the pipe back to its original size. You’ll need 2 wrenches to tighten these but before doing that, make sure to apply some pipe dope on the sleeve, this’ll ease the tightening process and act as a sealer. One thing that makes compression fittings shine, is that they can be installed on a leaking pipe, making it the 2nd choice on the list.

Step 4: Sharkbite Slip Coupling

1/2" Sharkbite slip coupling: https://amzn.to/2tGegDg

Number 3, is using a Sharkbite slip coupling. These fittings are good if you’re unfamiliar with soldering and prefer not taking any chances. They’re super easy to use and don’t require as many skills or tools to install them such as a soldering kit or crimpers. To install one, shut the water off like usual, use the fitting itself to mark where the cuts need to be made and cut using a pipe cutter. Deburr the inside and outside of the pipe. If you don’t have these dedicated tools, you could use a sharp utility knife for the inside, and a file for the outside. After, identify the Slip-end of the fitting and insert it onto the pipe until it clears the other end and use an adjustable wrench to push it in till both marks are visible and the repair is done. What’s nice about these Sharkbite fittings is that they also work on PEX and CPVC and don’t require and glue or soldering skills. This method is code approved if installed correctly.

Step 5: The KIBOSH Emergency Pipe Repair Clamp

1/2" Kibosh emergency pipe repair: https://amzn.to/2IEynwd

Number 4: is using a Kibosh Emergency Pipe Repair Clamp. I’ve already done a review of this tool on my channel and here’s the link for those who are interested in watching it. The Kibosh is an elegant device that’ll temporarily repair a leaking pipe in under 5 seconds with no skills required. It’s also made from non-toxic materials so it could be left on a leaking pipe for days without contaminating your potable water. Giving you a longer time frame to arrange for a proper repair. To install it on a leaking pipe, you need to first identify what size pipe you are dealing with and choose the appropriate clamp, and clamp it on, it’s literally that simple. It also works on steel, CPVC, PEX and Polybutelyne pipes which covers most residential and commercial systems around the world. The clamp could be reused as many times as needed, making it the most cost-effective pipe repair you can get. Since this is a temporary fix, they aren’t considered code as they must be removed for the pipe to be fixed the proper way.

Step 6: Patch It Up With Solder

Small roll of lead-free solder: https://amzn.to/2ExrAA2

Number 6: Soldering the hole shut. If there’s a small pinhole that appeared on your waterline, you might just be able to solder it shut to keep using your water. The first thing you need to do is shut main water valve, and make sure there’s no more water in the pipe by draining it from the lowest point in the house. Then, clean the pipe using an abrasive pad, add some flux and slowly heat the pipe, you’ll see the flux start to change color, go ahead and add some solder onto the hole, it should block it off and allow you to use your water until a plumber can fix it. This fix isn’t code approved.

Step 7: Copper Wire for Big Bursts

Number 7, is using a copper wire: If you have a bigger burst such as this, just adding some solder won’t do the job seeing the gap is too big to fill up. Get yourself some electric wire and clean it just like this. Like the previous trick, clean the damaged area with an abrasive such as a scotch pad or emery cloth. Then, tightly wrap it around the pipe like you see here and use some pliers to secure it in place. You could then solder it just like the first trick and it should seal the pipe temporarily. Although this method could get you outta trouble for a day or two, it is NOT code approved and should be fixed the correct way as soon as possible.

Step 8: Alfa Tape

Pipe repair tape: https://amzn.to/2H07YX8

Number 8: is using Alfa Tape. This tape is made from an advanced polymer that fuses itself when wrapped together tightly and can withstand over 100psi of pressure. It’s made with non-toxic materials and could be left on a potable water line for a quick repair if needed, although it’s not recommended. The only down side to using this tape is clearance, meaning, if you are trying seal a leak on a pipe that’s close to a wall, you won’t be able to use it due to the lack of space, which leads me to the next product which to me is the..

Step 9: Freeze Fix Epoxy Repair Kit

Epoxy Freeze fix kit: https://amzn.to/2Vobq1M

Number 9: is an epoxy putty called FREEZE FIX. This kit uses an epoxy saturated cloth that when applied, will seal a leak or burst on a pipe or on a fitting. To use it, first kneed the epoxy putty so that both part A and part B are properly mixed together. Then apply it on the burst as such while making sure to taper both extremities. Then, soak the cloth in water for about a minute and apply it around the putty while keeping tension on it at all times up until there’s none left and wait for everything to harden before opening the water. This kit is great for doing its job but is made with harsh chemicals such as the epoxy used to bond everything together and will come in contact with the water in the pipe. Unlike other pipe repair kits, this one won’t work if any water is leaking from the pipe so you’ll need to shut off the water and it could sometimes take a while to find. Something else I dislike is it could get messy and if left untouched could harden and be really hard to remove. This temporary fix is not code and should be removed promptly for a proper fix. In my personal experience, there are much better solutions on the market for getting a leak sealed or repaired, let’s move on.

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    14 Discussions

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    pgs070947

    3 months ago

    A couple of points.
    Compression joints are great provided everything, especially the pipe, is in good condition, no deep scratches, dents, out of round etc.
    If a potable water supply is leaking, and pipe sealant needs to be for potable use (applies to solders as well).
    I often use the thicker gas grade PTFE tape wound tightly in the same direction as the nut tightening direction to cover the olive/ferrule. Remember there are several points of contact between pipe, ferrule and fitting that need to be leak-free. The nice thing is that the tape is inert and clean.
    An experienced plumber friend of mine warned about sealant holding up a joint while cold, but failing when something like hot central heating water went through.
    What can help with compression fittings is pre-swaging. This is where you get the ferrule bedded down on the pipe before you add the sealant. One of the top makes of fittings called Swagelok, have a two part ferrule, use no sealant and use a gauge between nut and fitting body to ensure the correct torque. No sealant joints are important for high (300-bar) pressure gas e.g. oxygen, pipework.
    In an emergency, a pair of Mole grips can come in handy, especially with plastic pipe.
    I once put a fork through a shallow buried yellow PE gas pipe. The utility guys turned up, dug out a pair of large Moles with two round bars where the jaws are and simply squashed the pipe flat - garages use the same technique to seal off flexible hoses like brake or fuel lines.
    With all joints and repairs, don't forget the blue Kimwipes tissue to test for leaks - blue shows better than white and distiguishes between water and oily sealant.

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    NickCole1953

    3 months ago on Step 2

    One suggestion: mark the target position on pipe with a Sharpie before final assembly. It's easy to get lost once it’s assembled prior to soldering.

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    plumbermike

    3 months ago

    I like using a piece of rubber and hose clamps. Fairly cheep and and works great!
    wrap rubber around pipe tighten hose clamps. For a temporary repair only not recommended for permanent repairs.. permanent repairs silver solder the hole ..

    1 reply
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    sconnors

    3 months ago

    I managed to get a hole in a heat pipe while putting sheetrock on a ceiling. I inserted a copper tack in the hole and soldered it in. Also note that if a pipe to be soldered has a water drip, you can stop it by forcing a wad of bread in the pipe. Just be careful where the bread will go when you turn on the water. Into the water heater is bad! (It ferments)

    1 reply
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    Audiodad

    4 months ago

    Great guide! I was in plumbing for 6 years doing mainly condos and I got one you can add to the list. A piece of Red rubber and a gear clamp to go around the pipe and pinhole. Be careful to not over tighten especially if the pipe is very corroded you could make it worse.

    Cheers.

    3 replies
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    JulioC150Audiodad

    Reply 4 months ago

    True, I forgot that one. Thanks, i'll try to make another vid and include it in there;)

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    AudiodadJulioC150

    Reply 4 months ago

    No worries. I've even seen some questionable ones in my everyday work routine and have wondered, how is that even holding water. But hey if it works it works.

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    msawicki2

    4 months ago on Step 1

    Thank you for putting this instructable together! We just recently moved to a new home with all copper piping and I've never had the opportunity to work with it before. Ill definitely be referring to your instructable if a problem were to occur.

    On a side note, did you make the countertop from I believe photo #4 or 5?

    1 reply
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    JulioC150msawicki2

    Reply 4 months ago

    That's awesome, congrats on your move, buying a house is the best thing. If ever you want more videos that talk about plumbing, check out my channel there's full of stuff to watch.

    As for the countertop, I got that done by a shop but I took all the measurements and stuff and turned out awesome, thanks buddy!