Lesson 7- 2217

Residential Plumbing How To Secrets

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Part 7 of 7

Dealing With Leaks

Of all the problems that can occur in your plumbing system, none have the potential to be as costly as a good, old fashioned leak.   Big or little, fast or slow, leaks cause millions of dollars in damage every year.

Plumbing leaks come in two varieties, water supply leaks and drain leaks.   Although a leaking drain can cause a lot of damage if it goes uncorrected, a water supply leak has the potential to absolutely ruin your house.   Just look at the Grand Canyon to see what water can do.

If you see a waterspot on your ceiling, check directly above for a leak.   If you find nothing there check under all the fixtures and in every vanity.   Often water will run across a ceiling and show up in a seam or low spot.

A commom cause of water damage is leaks from individual fixtures.   These vary from refrigerator water filter leaks to leaking kitchen faucets.   Most of the time there are individual fixture stops, or valves, which turn the water off to that fixture only.   If so, this allows you to stop the water leak and still have water to the rest of the house.

When you are checking under your cabinets pay careful attention to the stops and to the supply lines going to your faucets.   These are prime places for leaks.   Use your hands to feel for water on these since it is often hard to see a very small leak.

leaking kitchen faucet repair stop
Typical Fixture Stop

The most urgent kind of leak is a leak on the main water supply piping in your home.   In our very first lesson we talked about the importance of knowing how to turn your water off.   If you have a supply pipe leak, getting the water turned off quickly can prevent thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Once the water is off you can begin to try to determine what the problem is.   If you have an older house you may have galvanized pipe leaks.   These are especially tricky because when you fix one you may cause another by disturbing the old pipe.

While leaks in galvanized or even copper pipes require special skills and tools, plastic piping is fairly easily repaired.   You need to be sure what kind of pipe you have because different types of pipe use different glues and cements.   Pay close attention to the curing times for the cement so your fresh repair doesn’t blow apart when you turn the water back on.

Some plastic pipe, like PEX, can’t be glued and must be joined using special fittings.  The pros usually use barbed fittings with crimp rings and special crimpimg tools but there is a fairly new product that you can use called a shark bite fitting.   Unlike its namesake, a plumbing shark bite type fitting is a good thing.

plumbing shark bite fittings
Shark Bite Fitting

These plumbing shark bite fittings just push on to the pipe.   No tools or special skills required!   The only time you need a tool is to remove them.   What’s so really good about these plumbing shark bite fittings is that they actually work very well and are used by many professional plumbers every day.

So…we’ve learned that all plumbing leaks are not a reason for alarm.   Many are simple to fix with easily learned skills.   The most important factor is making sure you get the water turned off as soon as you detect a leak.

If you enjoyed this mini course and would like to learn more about all sorts of DIY skills, especially plumbing, keep you eyes open for emails from me with more great tips and recommendations..

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Until next time,

Bryan Stevens


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