How To Fix a Burst Pipe
When you have a pipe burst in your home, either because the weather turned cold or there was a failure in the craftsmanship of the pipe itself or its joints, then here's some good news: you don't need some serious plumbing skills to fix the problem. You'll just need a few tools, some solder that is lead free, and some replacement pipe and fittings. The first step is to make sure that you've turned off your water supply. Look for the main valve for your water in a heated area of your home. Many times the water shut-off is located near the water heater, furnace, or primary electrical box. Open up the lowest fixture you have to make sure your plumbing system completely drains.
1. Allow your pipes to thaw out.
If you have frozen pipes that have caused the burst, then you'll need to make sure they're completely thawed out before you begin the repair. Wrap the pipe with insulation if necessary to make sure the ice begins to melt.
2. Cut out the damaged section of pipe.
When you've located where the pipe has burst, you'll need to cut out that damaged section. The easiest way is to use a pipe cutter. Rotate the the cutter around the pipe and keep tightening it a little bit with every rotation until it cuts all the way through it. You'll likely have burrs on the cut. You can clean these up with some steel wool. Avoid using the kitchen steel wool pads, however, because the detergents can make the job more difficult.
3. Cut a new section of pipe to install.
You'll need new pipe to replace the burst pipe. Cut the new pipe to the appropriate size. Because you'll be connecting the new pipe to the undamaged plumbing, you'll need to cut it a little shorter to accommodate the fittings that you'll need for a water-tight seal. Make sure you've got the same diameter of plumbing pipe as well. Most homes have ½ inch pipes, but this isn't always the case.
4. Clean the ends of the pipe.
You'll need to take that steel wool and make sure all of your pipe and fittings are cleaned up on the edges so that they'll be able to form an adequate seal. Take your time during this part because clean fittings and pipe ends are essential for a good connection.
5. Begin the soldering process.
You'll need to spread some soldering flux on the outside of the pipe end where you'll be connecting it to your existing plumbing. Then slide the valve fitting onto the end of the pipe and heat the valve fitting where it connects. You can hold the flame right up to the pipe, but make sure you're wearing safety glasses. As the connection heats up, you'll want to push some solder into the joint where the valve connects. The solder melts from the heat and will seep into the connection, sealing it off.
6. Continue until repaired, then turn on the water to check for leaks.
Make sure that the solder has cooled and sealed every joint that needs to be repaired and then turn your water back on to check for leaks. If you have leaks, you will need to start over from the beginning. It takes some practice to get soldering down, so take a few minutes to practice your technique before attempting the repair. In doing so, you'll be able to solve your own plumbing problems and know how to fix a burst pipe.
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