Most homeowners can handle minor plumbing jobs such as clogged sinks and the occasional leaky pipe. Understandably, the majority of homeowners shy away from repairs bigger than a leak or a clog. Copper pipes in particular require special handling. They come in a variety of designs such as split pipes; use joints to direct water through the pipe at angles; and control the flow of water through major lines. Homeowners who end up biting off more than they can chew could end up turning a leak into a torrent that floods their home, ruining property, and racking up thousands in damages.
Fortunately, several basic repair techniques for copper pipes exist. Learning them increases the homeowner's knowledge of home repairs and saves them the cost of hiring professionals.
Homeowners must take a number of steps to ready their home's plumbing before diving into repairs.
Water does not stop flowing through the veins of a house unless the homeowner flips the right switch. Shut off water at the well-pump pressure tank or meter. Even with the flow switched off, water stays plugged up in certain bends and corners. Drain the system by turning all faucets to the lowest level and waiting until they run dry.
Although homeowners can repair copper pipe without a propane torch, experts advise picking one up and learning how to use it. The plumbing in most homes utilize copper pipes. During construction, professionals solder pipes together with a gas torch. The torch fuses fittings together cleanly, preventing pipes from springing leaks until time and freak accidents wear away at the fittings.
Make sure to pick up a lead-free torch. Lead can permeate the water supply, so avoid it.
Pipe repair clamps and fitting need to match the diameter of the damaged section of pipe in need of replacement. Measure the old pipe with a tape measurer before browsing eBay or the local home repair store for a replacement.
Different fittings, angles, and types of copper pipe require different approaches to repair.
Use a tube cutter to cut the copper tubing. Next, use a clamp to set the pipe between the guide wheel and cutting wheel, and score the pipe all the way around. Tighten the cutter knob and bring the tubing around again to score deeper. Continue turning the cutter until the pipe pops off. Remove the burrs by inserting the ream attachment, available on specialwrenches, into the pipe. Wipe the pipe with an emery cloth to remove dirt and crud, and then clean the fittings with a fitting brush.
Assemble the copper pipe by joining its length with joints. Turn on the propane torch. Starting at one joint, hold a solder against the joint on the opposite side of the flame; the tip of the torch's flame burns hottest, so run the tip up and down along the fitting to heat it evenly. When the copper fitting's temperature reaches the solder's melting point, the solder melts and flows into the joint. Continue heating until the joint appears full on all sides, the move on to the next joint.
Homeowners can patch up split pipe using a repair coupling. Start out by removing the compression nut and ring from either end of the coupling. Center the coupling up to the damaged spot on the pipe and use a permanent marker to mark one inch in from each end of the coupling. Leaving a generous overlap allows the coupling to slip over the pipe's ends.
Brandish a hacksaw or tubing cutter and cut off the damaged section of pipe. A mini-tubing cutter works for confined spaces such as under the kitchen sink. Retrieve the compression nuts and rings removed earlier and fit them to either end of the pipe. Slide the repair coupling into place and tighten the nuts with wrenches.
Homeowners can nip any leak in the bud using a pipe repair clamp. To apply it, open the clamp and set its rubber pad over the leak. Now, let one-half of the clamp rest overtop the pad, and the other half on the opposite side of the pipe. Squeeze the clamp to close it, and place a screw in each screw. Place a nut over each screw, and tighten the screws with a screwdriver to finish repairs.
Don't turn the shower or sink on full blast after making repairs. Instead, test solutions by turning pressure on low and looking for leaks. Tighten segments where leaks occur until the water runs through the house properly.
After reading up on repair techniques, homeowners can turn to eBay's Top Sellers to find the tools they need to repair copper pipe. The search begins at any eBay web page: locate the search bar and enter a search term that describes a product, such as "propane torch" or, in the event homeowners want to replace pipes completely, "copper pipe." Look for ways to save money, such as buying a used product over a new one, and meeting up with local sellers to pick up products, which saves both parties the cost and hassle of shipping.
More than a propane torch, tape, and spare joints, homeowners must wield patience to repair copper pipes. Homeowners should learn multiple techniques so they do not become reliant on particular tools.