How to repair a copper pipe is one of the most frequently asked questions that we receive here at PipeRepair.co.uk.
That’s not really a surprise. Along with PVC, copper pipe is the most frequently used type of pipe in domestic settings. Plenty of homeowners will need to know how to fix a copper pipe at some point in their life.
Corrosion, freezing temperatures, even home DIY can all lead to problems with pipes. If we had a pound for every time we’d heard of somebody accidentally drilling through a copper pipe while carrying out their own home improvements, then… we’d still be writing this pipe repair blog, but we’d be a whole lot richer.
When plumbing does go wrong, most people think that they are in for an expensive repair that needs to be carried out by a qualified plumber. When money is tight or you simply don’t have the time to wait around for a professional to visit, this can lead to panic and worry.
The good news is that you don’t always need a plumber to carry out a repair. There are various products on the market and available to the general public which can allow for repairs to be made to domestic copper pipes quickly and easily without the need for formal training.
Some of these repairs will give temporary respite, others can provide solutions which last for many months and years. Here are four easy ways to fix a leaking pipe made of copper.
Pipe Repair Clamps
Pipe repair clamps have provided a popular solution for fixing copper pipe in the home for many years now. Repair clamps are metal sleeves lined inside with rubber. To use a pipe repair clamp, you place the clamp on the area of pipework requiring repair so that the rubber is directly over the hole.
You then tighten the screws on the clamp and it will slowly seal itself around the pipe, compressing the rubber into the leaking hole. When applying the clamp, you must be careful not to overtighten it. Otherwise, you may end up bending the copper pipe out of shape and causing more damage than you started with.
Pipe repair clamps are popular because they are both easy to apply and reusable. Once the damaged area of pipework has been replaced or been treated to a more permanent solution, then you can keep the clamp in question and use it again for any future leaks.
Epoxy putties are made up of two components. When mixed, they form a material which can be used as an adhesive or to plug holes before it sets into a hardened material. That makes epoxy putty perfect for sealing leaks or filling cracks in copper pipe.
The ease with which epoxy putties can be used and the speed with which they work is their most attractive feature when it comes to fixing a copper pipe. With a fast-working putty, you can hand knead Part A and Part B together within minutes.
You then push the epoxy putty into the pipe, plugging the hole or crack. It will set hard within 10 minutes and water flow through the pipe can be turned back on within an hour.
One important factor to consider when it comes to using epoxy putty to repair a copper pipe is that some putties can contain harsh chemicals.
If the pipe you are fixing is one that supplies water that could be consumed, you should always check to ensure that the epoxy putty product you are using is WRAS approved, meaning it has been certified for use with drinking water.
Pipe Leak Tape
There are many different variations of pipe repair tape on the market, all with different levels of effectiveness. Plumber’s tape will often be the cheapest and can provide a temporary repair until a plumber can look at the issue.
Plumber’s tape is water-resistant, hence the name. To apply, you simply wrap it around the area of pipework requiring repair and it will help to seal the leak. It won’t withstand much pressure however, which is why it is only suitable as a short-term solution.
If you’re after a more permanent solution, then there are more advanced self-fusing pipe repair tapes on the market. These are made from materials such as silicone and other advanced polymers, which will fuse into a solid rubber band over the leak when wrapped around the pipe.
Such self-fusing pipe leak tapes can often withstand large amounts of pressure, far more than you’d find in the average domestic copper pipe. This means that they can provide a longer-lasting repair.
The one negative when it comes to Pipe Leak Tape is that it does require a large working area with enough clearance around the pipe for wrapping to take place.
If you’re trying to repair a copper pipe in a confined space or up against a wall, then you won’t be able to wrap effectively around the problem area – especially when using self-fusing tapes which require maximum stretch to exert maximum pressure over the leak. If that’s the case, then another repair method is required
We find that many people are put off using soldering as a technique for repairing holes in copper pipe because they don’t have the confidence to attempt it. There’s also something about the word soldering which makes it sound much more complicated than it is.
To solder a copper pipe, the first thing you have to do is shut off the main water valve. You then need to drain the pipe in question from a point below where the hole is, tilting the pipe if possible so that any water sitting within is drained out.
Clean the damaged area with an abrasive pad and then add the flux for soldering copper pipe which you will be using. The flux helps facilitate the soldering process. You heat the flux with a blowtorch until it begins to change colour, then add solder into the hole which will block it off, sealing the leak.