Fix leaking copper pipe correctly: 7 ways to repair it

In many cases, you can fix leaking copper pipe without soldering or perhaps even needing to call a plumber. There are several simple ways to do this, many of which don’t require expensive tools.

Before starting this job, the first thing to do is to turn the water off. How you do this obviously depends on where the leak is. Ideally, there will be an isolation valve somewhere on the pipe that you can operate with a blade-edge screwdriver.

How do you fix a leaking copper pipe without soldering?

Fix leaking copper pipe quickly

First of all, you’ll probably want to carry out a short-term fix that gives you a bit of time to sort out a permanent one.

The fastest temporary fix is a pipe repair clamp. This is a couple of bits of metal, lined with rubber and held together by a couple of screws.

No pipe clamp? No problem

If you don’t have one of these – and chances are you don’t – you can easily improvise one with a bit of rubber, and a jubilee clip or a couple of cable ties.

Simply press the bit of rubber over the leak, and then secure it in place with the jubilee clip or cable ties. If you’re using cable ties, you may have to use more than one.

For obvious reasons this fix is not a long-term solution. Also, due to the added water pressure, it may not provide a fully watertight seal if the leak is on a pipe fed by the mains.

Compression tape

It’s possible to buy a special kind of tape which wraps over the leak to form a watertight seal.

This tape is known as self-amalgamating or self-fusing tape because it doesn’t require an additional adhesive.

One of the advantages of compression tape is that you don’t necessarily need to turn the water off before using it, although it is generally good practice to do so.

Epoxy pipe repair putty

You can also fix pinhole leaks with epoxy repair putty. This usually consists of two components you mix together to form a putty. Form the putty over the hole in accordance with the instructions, let it harden, and the leak should be stopped.

Pipe repair putty is a great solution if the leak is in an awkward place where it would be tricky or impossible to use repair tape.

How do you fix a leaking copper pipe without soldering?

The surest way to do this is to cut through the pipe at the point where the leak is located and join the two pipes together with a male compression pipe coupler.

This is the perfect method if you don’t know how to solder, don’t want to do so, or if the leak is at a place where soldering would be inappropriate (e.g., next to a plastic water tank or on pipes that carry water for drinking, bathing or cooking).

For cutting the pipe in half, you can use a hacksaw if you don’t have pipe cutters, but pipe cutters make this job much easier.

Once you’ve cut through the pipe, simply slide a nut and an olive over each end, and tighten the fitting up with an adjustable spanner and a pair of grips.

Soldering

Of course, if you can solder and the leak is on pipework that is suitable for soldering, this is the soundest way to stop the leak.

You can either cut the pipe at the point where the leak is and join it together again per the previous solution, or you can buy a special capillary repair patch which you solder in place over the leak.

When soldering, remember that the area and the fitting must be clean and dry, and that there must not be any water in the pipe. Always use water-soluble flux, and use heat mats to protect nearby surfaces from burns.

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