Quick Fixes for Burst Pipes

Being prepared to defend your home’s plumbing system against a sudden burst pipe can save you thousands of dollars in damage. Think of these quick, easy fixes as plumbing first aid — they slow or stop a leak in a pipe long enough to give you time to enlist the services of a qualified plumber during business hours.

To temporarily stop a pinhole leak, you need to apply pressure to the opening. The solution? Wrap duct tape around the pipe. In many instances, it supplies the necessary pressure. Unfortunately, duct tape doesn’t always give you enough pressure. In that case, you need to move to a more robust fix.

Using a C-clamp

Another way to temporarily stop a small leak involves a C-clamp, a block of wood, and a piece of rubber.

Because the block of wood is flat (and the pipe is round), it can only create pressure along a very narrow area of the pipe.

Follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve.

  2. Place a piece of rubber over the area where the pipe is leaking.

  3. Put the block of wood on top of the piece of rubber.

  4. Open the C-clamp wide enough to surround the pipe, the gasket material, and the block of wood.

  5. Place the stationary part of the opening of the C-clamp against the pipe (opposite the location of the leak) and the screw part of the C-clamp against the block of wood. Tighten the screw clamp until it’s snug.

Junkyards are filled with rubber that can be had for pennies. Old automotive radiator and heater hoses are just what the doctor ordered. If you have a friend who works on cars, he’ll probably be glad to give you all you need.

Using a sleeve clamp

A sleeve clamp stops everything from pinhole leaks to larger leaks. A sleeve clamp consists of two semicircular pieces of metal that, when put together, completely surround the pipe — hence the name sleeve. The clamp is about 3 inches long, but you have to buy one to fit your specific pipe size.

Other than the sleeve clamp, you only need a screwdriver:

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  1. Wrap the damaged section of pipe with the gasket material provided.

  2. Surround the gasket-wrapped pipe with the two semicircular clamps.

  3. Tighten the screws that connect the two halves of the sleeve clamp.

No one relishes the idea of spending money on plumbing repair items on the off chance that they may be needed. But if you think about it, things like hose clamps, C-clamps, duct tape, and rubber are pretty cheap, especially when you consider how much money they can save you if your pipes do spring a leak. These simple items are good junk to have in your workshop.

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