How to fix a water pipe leak in the ceiling

Written by emily patterson
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How to fix a water pipe leak in the ceiling
Ceiling damage from water pipe leaks can be avoided if caught early on. (leaky ceiling 1 image by askthegeek from Fotolia.com)

A water pipe leak in the ceiling can cause extensive damage to the ceiling itself, the floor, and anything else in the path of the water. With new plumbing tools available, water pipe leaks can be fixed by a homeowner without having to pay the expense of a plumber. All that is needed is a pipe cutter, a new section of pipe, and a push fitting that will securely fix the pipe.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Permanent marker
  • Pipe cutter (or PEX tubing cutter)
  • Pipe
  • Coupling push fitting (other push fittings as needed)
  • Emery cloth (metal or plastic pipes)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove the section of ceiling directly below the leak. If the ceiling is drywall, use a sharp utility knife and cut out a square or rectangle in the drywall. If the ceiling is a drop ceiling, remove the tiles below the leak.

  2. 2

    Locate the leaking section of pipe. If the pipe is not actively leaking, it may be necessary to turn on the water at a fixture near the leak.

  3. 3

    Mark the pipe on each side of the leak with a permanent marker. If the leak is located at an elbow or splice fitting, note the location of the fitting.

  4. 4

    Shut off water to the area, or to the entire house if you are not sure which shut-off valve is the correct one for the area near the leak.

  5. 5

    Place a pipe cutter over the pipe at the location of one of the marks. Tighten the pipe cutter on the pipe by turning the screw knob on the pipe cutter until it is firmly on the pipe. Rotate the pipe cutter around the pipe and re-tighten the screw on the pipe cutter until the pipe is cut all the way through. Repeat for the other side. If the pipe is PEX tubing, use PEX cutters to cut the pipe on a 90-degree angle.

  6. 6

    Take the section of pipe to a local home improvement centre and purchase a small pipe and proper size coupling push fitting (unless the leak is small enough to simply replace with the coupling fitting). If the section was an elbow or "T" fitting, purchase a corresponding push fitting. An additional coupling may be required and additional sections of pipe will be needed to extend the pipe on each side of the fitting being replaced.

  7. 7

    Clean off the edges of metal or plastic pipe with a piece of emery cloth to remove all burrs and rough areas.

  8. 8

    Position the push fitting over the end of the pipe and press firmly and quickly onto the pipe or PEX tubing. Repeat with the other side. It may be necessary to cut off more of the pipe to fit the push fitting onto both sides of the pipe.

  9. 9

    Turn on the water and monitor the area for 24 hours before repairing the ceiling or replacing the ceiling tile.

Tips and warnings

  • If the ceiling is a drywall ceiling, cut the drywall out in a square or rectangle to make patching the ceiling easier and less noticeable.
  • Wear eye protection to prevent debris from falling into eyes.

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