How to Repair a Leaking Copper Pipe
You will find one of the most aggravating problems that can happen in your home is a plumbing leak. The small pinhole leak that goes unnoticed for a little while until water seeps through a ceiling somewhere. Most of the time you’ll find this located in the basement where all the plumbing and other utilities come up from the basement and run up into the house. This is where most of the copper pipe is located, so it stands to reason that the chances are it will happen down there. This is a plus for you, as most basements ceilings are unfinished or have a drop ceiling installed which gives easy access to the copper pipes running through the floor joists. Locate the leak and mark it with something so you will find it again. Now shut off the water and assess what you will need for the repair. If the hole is located on a straight piece of pipe the repair will be pretty straight forward. That is what we are going to assume for this instruction. Collect the right tools, shut off the water and start the copper pipe leak repair. The sooner you start the repair the quicker the water can be restored and life can go on.
Now that we have the hole marked it is time to shut the water off. You will want a five-gallon bucket to catch the water that will come pouring out when the pipe is cut. You must drain the water in the pipes. This will make the job much easier. Now for the tools, we will need them. A pipe cutter for copper pipe, Butane torch and a lighter. Emery cloth, and pipe solder. Then a coupler to put the pipe back together and a wet rag. That should probably do it. This is why you set up a plumbing toolbox for your house. It is always nice to have all the tools you would need for a plumbing repair in one toolbox. This is easy to do, and I suggest you do it because this will not be the last leak you repair.
Let’s get started. Support the pipe so when you cut it where the leak is at, you don’t wiggle and shake a coupling or elbow loose and create another leak. Cut the pipe and catch the water in the bucket. This should not take long when all the faucets upstairs are open. This will help the house to drain out. Once the water is drained it is time to clean the pipe ends. Use the Emery cloth to do this. Emery cloth is sandpaper, just a little tougher. It is cloth-backed instead of paper. Shine the copper ends until they are super clean and shiny. This is very important. The solder will not stick unless the copper is clean and dry. It has to be like this or the solder will not stick to the copper. Insert the coupler on one end of the pipe. Light the torch and adjust until the flame is blue. Heat the coupler in the middle where the pipe was inserted. After about 20-30 seconds, remove heat, and touch the solder on the outside of the connection where the pipe went into the coupler. The hot copper pipe should draw the solder into the coupler and make it watertight. Use your wet rag to cool the piece. Repeat this process for the other side. This should complete your copper pipe leak repair. Let cool for a minute or two, and turn on the water. You have successfully sweated a copper connection. This process gets easier with practice.