Nothing is sure to ruin a winter morning more than waking up and going to turn on the water, only to realize nothing is coming out. The dropping winter temperatures wreak havoc on plumbing and a burst pipe is one of the worst consequences. It may seem like a daunting task, but there are ways to keep the water flowing without having to solder or cut any pipe. While these should only be used temporarily, it will provide relief and, more importantly, water usage until a complete fix of the pipe is possible. It also prevents overspending on an emergency plumber, allowing time to research and compare costs.
If there is a trickle of water available when the faucet is opened, there is still a chance that the pipes are still frozen and have not burst yet. In this case, leave the faucet open and it would be a good idea to purchase pipe warmers at a hardware store if it happens often. If nothing happens when the faucet is opened, chances are the pipe has already frozen solid and burst. Be sure to locate the burst pipe, which is often times in an unheated area, like an outside wall or a crawlspace under the floor. Once located, turn off the main water valve. Pipes are pretty difficult to fix with water spewing everywhere.
How to Fix a Leak
Depending on the severity of the leak, there are a few remedies you can take. If it's small enough, the almighty duct tape can actually provide enough pressure to be a temporary fix. However, this method is usually extremely temporary and should be used in more of an emergency situation. For more intense leaks, sleeve clamps are the way to go.
A sleeve clamp is a fixture made of a rubber gasket and two pieces of metal that are clamped together over the pipe. When applying the sleeve clamp, be sure to place the rubber gasket directly over the area of the leak or burst in the pipe. From there, they are pretty simple to fold over and tighten. This is a cheap, quick, and most importantly, a temporary fix for a burst pipe. Remember the water flowing through the pipes is doing so with varying pressure, leaving the pipe vulnerable to bursting again. It's always vital to hire a plumber to fix the issue before it gets out of hand and turns into a monster.
Fixing a burst pipe is something almost anyone can do, regardless of their familiarity with plumbing or construction. Finding the confidence and having the right tools will go a long way to insuring you not only are able to help yourself, but also save a ton of money by not having to call an emergency plumber at 6 pm on a Friday night. After this, all it will take is a trip to the local hardware store and some elbow grease.
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