Fixing Your Plumbing To Fix Your Life

How To Temporarily Repair Burst Pipes

Burst water pipes always seem to strike in the middle of the night or on long weekends, leaving you with no choice but to contend with the problem yourself or pay the fee for an emergency visit from your plumber. While there are times when calling for emergency plumbing services is clearly your best choice, you can often take temporary measures to correct the problem until normal business hours when you can call in the plumber. Follow these instructions to make a temporary repair to broken water pipes until the plumber arrives.

  1. Turn off your water supply. The first step in any repair you are going to make is to turn off the water supply to prevent more water from entering and flooding your home. Shut off the main water supply to your home immediately. This valve is located at the point where your water supply enters your home. If you have a basement, it may be located near the wall in the basement; otherwise look for a shutoff along an exterior wall.
  2. Catch the Water. Place buckets or bowls under the area where your pipes have burst to catch the water. Even after turning off the water supply, the water left in the pipes will drain through the break.
  3. Turn off the hot water heater and unplug nearby appliances.
  4. Drain the Pipes. To get rid of the water left in the pipes, turn on the faucets in your kitchen and bathroom and let them drain into the sink. Flush the toilet at this time to drain that line, too. If the toilet tank refills, go ahead and flush it again until the tank no longer refills when you flush the toilet.
  5. Place absorbent towels on the floor. These will soak up the spilled water and prevent it from spreading. You may need to change the towels several times, depending on how much water has flooded your home. Place the wet towels in the washer on the spin cycle to remove excess water so you can reuse them if necessary.
  6. Dry off the pipe. Use a soft cloth to dry the pipe and inspect the break. Even though they are often referred to as burst pipes, it will probably look like a crack. Measure the length of the crack to determine the size patch you will need.
  7. Cut a patch for the pipe. You can use an old inner tube or any other waterproof material for a patch. Even a piece of leather will do the trick for a temporary repair. Cut the patch large enough to wrap around the pipe (and overlap slightly) and to extend about two inches on either end of the crack in your water pipe.
  8. Wrap the patch around the pipe. The patch should cover the entire crack. Don't skimp on the patch or water will find its way around your patch.
  9. Clamp the patch. Place a hose clamp at each end of the patch and one in the middle directly over the break. Tighten the clamps with a flat head screwdriver or ratchet wrench to secure the patch in place. If you do not have hose clamps on hand, use locking pliers to hold the patch. Place them over the patch and tighten the pliers to secure it in place.
  10. Turn on the water. At this point you are ready to turn the water back on and check your work. Turn on a faucet to draw water through the pipe and watch for any drips or leaks around the patch. If your patch is secure, you can now use your plumbing as usual. 

Patching a broken or cracked pipe is only a temporary solution to your plumbing issues. Call your plumber and arrange to get the pipe replaced or repaired as soon as possible to prevent further issues in the future.