How to stop a water pipe leak

Updated April 17, 2017

Water pipe leaks have the potential to cause major problems is they are not promptly dealt with. Water stains on a ceiling, pools of water and dripping noises are all symptoms of a leaking pipe. The leak may be caused by a small hole in the pipe or by loose joint fittings. The two methods that work best for stopping a leak are attaching a clamp around the leak or plugging the hole with epoxy putty. The best long-term strategy is the replace the pipe. Leaks indicate that the pipes are wearing out.

Locate the source of the leak. The leak will come from either a hole in the pipe or a loose joint connection. Once you have located the leak, shut the water valve off. Call the water department or a plumber if you are not sure where the main water valve is located.

Wrap duct tape or electrical tape around any pinhole-size leaks in the pipe. This is a quick but temporary fix.

Drain the water in the pipe. Leave the main water valve off. Turn all the faucets on and flush the toilets several times. Use an air compressor to thoroughly drain the pipes. Blow the compressed air into the pipes for several minutes.

Clean the area around the pinhole-size leak with steel wool. The steel wool cleans the surface and removes the grime and debris on the pipe. A clean surface makes it easier for the rubber gasket to fit tightly to the pipe.

Dry the area around the leak with a towel. Wrap the rubber gasket around the hole in the pipe.

Place the clamp over the rubber gasket. Tighten the clamp on the gasket with a screwdriver and wrench.

Locate the source of the leak. Turn the main water valve off and drain the pipes as described in Step 3 of the previous section.

Clean the area around the leak with steel wool. Clean the joint connections with the steel wool if they are the source of the leak. Dry the pipe with a towel.

Sand the leaky area, the hole or the joint connection, with sandpaper until the metal is shiny. If you have plastic pipes, scrub them with an abrasive pad and soap and water rather than sandpaper.

Open the tube of epoxy putty and squeeze out the putty you'll need for the repair. Knead the putty in your hands until it turns a solid colour. Wrap the putty around the hole or joint fitting. Press it firmly in place. Wait an hour before turning the water on.

Things You'll Need

  • Electrical tape or duct tape
  • Towel
  • Steel wool
  • Abrasive cleaning sponge
  • Soap
  • Air compressor
  • Rubber gasket
  • Clamps
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Sandpaper
  • Epoxy putty
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About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.