How to Fix an Emergency Leak

Over time, copper pipes will wear down. The result? Pinhole leaks. If you’re a homeowner, a pinhole leak can be a major headache — especially if it happens at night. The good news? There are simple ways to temporarily fix the leak yourself, so you can avoid an emergency visit from your local plumber. A good patch will hold for several weeks, until a professional can visit your home and fix it permanently. So continue reading to learn how to fix an emergency leak, using two simple methods.

Method 1: Gasket kit

The first method for fixing an emergency leak? Using a gasket kit.

This method is cheap. All it requires is a gasket kit — we found one at Ace Hardware for $3.99 — and a hose clamp, which is less than $2.00. The Do-It-Yourself Gasket Kit from Ace comes with three squares of gasket — but the rubber gasket is the one you need. When buying the hose clamp, be sure that the clamp is close to the size of the pipe you’re repairing.

To make the repair, follow these steps:

  1. Cut a rectangle from the rubber gasket. The rectangle should be about the same width as the hose clamp, and long enough to wrap around half of the pipe’s circumference.
  2. Position the rubber gasket and hose clamp over the pinhole leak. Place the rubber gasket directly over the pinhole leak, being sure to wrap the gasket around the pipe’s width, not length. Next, position the hose clamp over the gasket.
  3. Tighten the hose clamp. Using a screwdriver or hex wrench, tighten the hose clamp over the gasket. You’ll want the hose clamp to be snug on the pipe, but be careful not to over tighten. A pinhole leak means that the pipe’s walls are thin — applying too much pressure could crush the pipe.

You’re done! This gasket kit method should hold for weeks if done correctly.

Method 2: Compression tape

The second method for fixing an emergency leak? Using compression tape.

This method is a bit more expensive than the gasket kit. Blue Monster Compression Seal Tape is about $27 for a 12-foot roll, or $12 for three feet. This is a silicone tape; it has no adhesive. Instead, the material is designed to bond to itself.

To make the repair, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the pipe. Before applying the tape, clean the pipe of any burs and debris using a sponge or rough rag.
  2. Apply eight inches of tape to the pipe. If you are able to shut off the water, begin wrapping the tape directly over the pinhole leak. If you can’t shut off the water, and the leak is spraying, begin wrapping the tape right next to the hole. Remember, this is compression tape: you need to wrap it tightly. Use your thumb to hold down the end of the tape, and stretch the tape as you wrap it around the pipe. When it’s all said and done, you’ll want at least two full wraps around the pinhole leak, and one wrap on each side of the leak (about half the tape’s diameter on either side). Squeeze the wrap with your hand to make sure it’s secure.
  3. Apply another six inches of tape to the pipe, as a protective strip. You should wrap this second layer of tape with very little compression — it’s only meant to protect the seal below. Once that’s done, squeeze the wrap again to keep it all in place.

You’re done!

Summary

 

It’s important to remember that these are temporary solutions. They are meant to get you through the night, or until a professional can come to your home to fix the leak permanently. That being said, these fixes will save you money — and your home.

Between the two methods explored above, we prefer the gasket method. Why? It’s not only cheaper, but it’s more reliable across various situations and contexts — hot and cold water systems, old pipes and new. While the compression tape is a solid option, it requires a clean pipe to do its job properly, and can struggle on heating systems that fluctuate in temperature.

Need a permanent leak fix? Give us a call.

Reach out to us today to schedule professional service. We’re always ready to help.

Text Us