Dear James: I noticed a small drip coming from one of the steel pipes under my kitchen sink. I have called a professional to fix small leaks and they have replaced the entire pipe. Is it feasible to just repair the leak instead of installing a whole new pipe? — Jack N.
Dear Jack: Don’t let that pipe leak any longer. Although it seems like a very small problem now, it can quickly build up and cause a lot of damage to whatever is in the area. Patching the hole saves you the hassle of having your entire system taken apart and it also saves you money, but eventually the pipe will need replacing.
If the hole is very tiny, as yours appears to be, wrap the pipe with tape for a temporary fix while you go to the hardware store for a semi-permanent solution. Dry the pipe and wrap waterproof tape around it about six inches on either side of the whole. Now your mind can be at ease while you get a pipe clamp or plumbers epoxy, which is most effective if the leak is coming from a fitting.
To apply the plumber’s epoxy first turn the water off and drain the pipe. Dry the area and then clean off any grime, dirt or grease that has probably built up throughout the years. Take some sandpaper and rough up the surface of the pipe. This produces more effective surface area, which allows the epoxy material to adhere better to the leaky spot.
Basic plumbers epoxy can be easily applied using a putty knife. It usually comes in two components, and you need an equal amount of each. Thoroughly mix the two components together until the color is uniform.
Pack the mixed epoxy material into the damaged area with the knife. It may be easier to use your thumb — with a protective glove — if the leak is in a hard to reach spot. Remember not to let any liquid run through it until the epoxy has dried.
Another solution is to use a pipe clamp to stop the leak. These are hinged units that are sized to fit the pipe and seal small gashes, cracks and tiny leaks. They work well on cracks or holes along the pipe away from fittings.
Simply place the rubber pad on top of the leak and wrap the clamp around it. Tighten the clamp’s screws, making sure the rubber pad doesn’t move as you are working. Don’t over tighten the clamp or it may tear through the rubber pad.
If you would like to try replacing the pipe yourself, you have a few options. The easiest method is to use a slip coupling with compression joints. The slip coupling is a length of pipe with nuts at each end. When these are tightened they form a waterproof seal. You can measure and cut out the damaged pipe section with a hacksaw.
Place a bucket underneath the area to catch any water left in the pipe. Smooth out the exposed edges with a file and slide the slip coupling into place. To make the waterproof seal, tighten the nuts with a spanner wrench..
Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.