Any plumbing emergency demands that youíll need to shut the flow of water off quickly. To fix any crisis like leaking pipes, every member of your family will need to know the location of the shutoff valves for every fixture and appliance, as well as the main shutoff valves for the house, and how they all operate.
Every homeís plumbing system has three parts that homeowners should have at least a passing familiarity with so theyíll be able to deal with leaking pipes in a controlled and reasonable manner. The supply system carries clean water to your home's fixtures like sinks, tubs, and toilets and to other appliances like the dishwasher and washing machine. The drain waste system carries used water and waste away into the sewer system. The vent system carries away sewer gases and maintains proper pressure inside the pipes. All rely on pipes to carry out their jobs, so itís no surprise that a leaking pipe has the potential to be a costly crisis.
Water dripping or forming puddles nearby are obvious indicators of leaking pipes. However, the sign of a hidden leak could also be a high water bill or the sound of running water when youíre convinced all the faucets are off. Follow the sound to its source and look for water stains on the ceiling or walls. But remember, a stain on the wall is quite often lower than the actual leak. If there are no stains that you can see, check the crawl space and basement. The best solution for a leaking pipe is to replace it, but there are also a number of ways to patch an existing pipe.
One of the more difficult predicaments are frozen pipes. Because water expands when it freezes, the leaking pipe may not be apparent right away although the pipe is damaged. A faucet that wonít run is one of the first signs of frozen pipes. Itís possible to prevent this problem by using a small lamp or heater to heat exposed pipes or wrap them with insulation or foam.
To patch a pipe after the water has been shut off at the correct valve or the main shutoff, there are generally several major techniques. Itís a good idea to keep C clamps and pieces of rubber on hand for emergencies. If you donít have any C clamps, an ordinary pencil point can stop a pinhole leak temporarily. Hose clamps and sleeve clamps are another solution. When clamps wonít work, epoxy putty will stop the leaks. Unfortunately, all these options are only temporary solutions. At some point, the pipe should be repaired or replaced professionally.