How to Repair a Copper Pipe With a Pinhole Leak

Written by shane grey
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How to Repair a Copper Pipe With a Pinhole Leak
A plumber prepares to apply solder to a heated fitting. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Repair clamps effectively seal pinhole leaks and, although they're intended as a temporary fix, they often last several years. Repair clamps consist of a sheet of rubber surrounded by a tubular clamp; the clamp compresses the rubber against the copper pipe and stops the flow of the leak. On the other hand, repair couplings are a permanent solution to pinhole leaks in copper. Repair couplings are copper slip-fittings that connect to the leaking pipe with solder and a torch. Learn both methods and choose between a quick fix and a permanent solution.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Repair clamp
  • Screwdrivers
  • Bucket
  • Pipe cutter
  • Rag
  • Emery cloth
  • Repair coupling
  • Flux and flux brush
  • Plumbing torch
  • Solder

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    Repair Clamp

  1. 1

    Insert a screwdriver into one of the repair clamp's clamping screws. Turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to loosen and remove the screw. Remove the opposite clamping screw from the repair clamp.

  2. 2

    Open the repair clamp and position the clamp's interior, rubber pad over the pinhole leak. Close the clamp over the pinhole leak.

  3. 3

    Insert one of the clamp's clamping screws into its hole. Insert a screwdriver into the screw's slot and turn clockwise to tighten the screw; do not fully tighten the screw. Insert the opposite screw into its hole and use the screwdriver to tighten the screw; do not fully tighten the screw. Return to the first screw and use the screwdriver to fully tighten. Fully tighten the second screw. Tightening the screws in increments evenly seats the clamp across the pipe's surface.

    Repair Coupling

  1. 1

    Turn off the water supply to the leaking pipe. Open a faucet near the leaking pipe to drain water from the supply system. Open a pipe cutter's jaw by twisting its handle counterclockwise. Position the cutter directly over the leak and tighten the cutter's jaw onto the pipe. Place a bucket beneath the pipe cutter. Rotate the pipe cutter around the pipe. Tighten the cutter's grip every few turns to force the cutter's blade farther into the pipe's wall.

  2. 2

    Rotate the cutter until its blade severs the pipe. Allow water to drain into the bucket. Remove the pipe cutter from the pipe and dry the pipe with a rag. Position the cutter over the pipe for a second cut that will remove a small portion of pipe from the supply line; the size of the chunk should be approximately 1 inch shorter than the length of your repair coupling or sized according to your coupling manufacturer's guidelines. Rotate the cutter around the pipe to remove the chunk.

  3. 3

    Rub emery cloth around the open ends of the supply pipes and the interior of each open end of the repair coupling. Abrade the pipes and coupling to remove grease and impurities from the copper's surface; the copper shines when clean.

  4. 4

    Apply a generous layer of flux to the cleaned ends or the supply pipes and repair coupling. Flux helps solder flow between the pipe joint, do not skimp on flux application. Slightly pull one supply line away from the other supply line, slide the coupling fully over the pipe and allow the pipe to return to its original position. Slide the coupling toward the adjacent pipe so that the coupling rests evenly over both supply lines.

  5. 5

    Direct a plumbing torch's flame against one of the joints between the pipe and repair coupling. Dab the solder against the heated joint. If solder melts, remove the torch and press the solder into the joint until it fills and seeps from the joint's rim. Apply the torch to the opposite side of the coupling, heat the joint and apply solder. Wipe excess, molten solder from the joint with a wet rag. Turn on the water supply and check for leaks.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a repair clamp according to the diameter of your copper pipe; residential pipes are typically 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • Protect wooden framing from the torch's open flame with a flame-retardant cloth.

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