I've got a pin hole leak in a copper pipe on my hot water heat sytem.
Murphy is my partner. So, of course, the leak is right where the pipe
goes through the floor and you can't get at it. A proper repair is
going to mean removing the radiator above, cutting out a whole section
of pipe and replacing.
To avoid this job, does anyone suggest some sort of goo to just apply
to the surface of the pipe? Other easy fix?
I've repaired pinhole leaks with a piece of inner tube and a band clamp
but that's not going to work in your situation. If it were me I'd bite
the bullet and call a plumber. You'll be out a hundred bucks, it'll make
him happy, and you can get on with your life without the stress.
Sucks to be you. Unless there is evidence of mechanical damage, that
means the pipe is rotted from the inside and will probably start leaking
somewhere else pretty soon and maybe even burst. Also it is probably
about as fragile as eggshells so getting a good proper repair even if
you take the floor up is problematic.
In similar circumstances, I've just drained down, cleaned the pipe
gently with wire wool and soft soldered a piece of copper foil over the
hole. There are also various epoxy pipe bandage products, but for those
you will need access right round the pipe.
With luck, it *MAY* get you through the winter so you can do some major
pipe replacement work in the spring, but I'd make sure all valuables
that are vulnerable to water damage are moved out of your ground floor,
or stored well off the floor and wrapped in heavy plastic.
Might wanna be more descriptive. You didn't say joint, so one may
conclude that it's in a section of pipe.
You didn't mention damage, so one might think nobody
nicked, poked, drilled into it.
So, why is it leaking? If it's corrosion, there may be a
weak spot much bigger than the CURRENT leak.
Weigh the cost of water damage against the hassle of fixing it
Cutting out a section of pipe and replacing it *is* the easy way to do
it. Once you have some experience soldering plumbing you'll realize this
and just cut and replace the offending section rather that spending 3X
the time trying to band-aid it.
You need to at least partially drain the loop so there is no water in
the area you are working on. Get one of the little fiberglass heat
shield cloth squares to use to back the work area and avoid torching the
wall, floor, etc. Have a damp rag available to wipe excess solder from
hot joints for neatness. A pair of channel-lock type pliers is essential
if you try to un-solder any existing connections.
They make couplers that do not have the center dimples / grove and allow
you to slide them fully onto a piece of pipe before aligning with
another pipe and sliding over the joint. Make a mark on the pipe so you
will know when the coupler is centered. A good lead-free paste flux and
some abrasive cloth are essential in getting a good joint, especially on
existing pipe. Use lead-free solder as well, likely all you'll find
these days anyway.
Don't skimp on pipe cutters, get something decent like Rigid and in both
full-size and the mini ones which you can use in close quarters. One of
the mini-hacksaw handles is also helpful for areas too tight for even
the mini tubing cutters. Don't bother trying to use a propane torch,
only use MAPP or MAPP equivalent and use a good trigger-start torch like
a Bernz-o-Matic TS4000. Don't be tempted to use oxy-acetylene, it's too
hot for soldering (good for brazing), plumbers sometimes use
air-acetylene, but not O/A generally.
Use only type L pipe, not the thinner type M. If you have a pinhole leak
and it's not from mechanical rubbing damage, you may well have a lot
more places ready to go unless you are lucky and it's a manufacturing
defect in one spot. BTW, it's a "hydronic" heating system.
$100 plumber job? Where the heck do you live? Here, $100 is what we pay
for them to show up and ask questions.
I'd estimate total costs for that fix here to be $300-450.
Joe Agro, Jr.
Automatic / Pneumatic Drills:
Ain't no easy fix if the thing is leaking where it goes through the
floor, IMHO. Be sure to protect the new pipe from abrasion in the
floor-hole. Given that you'd need to pull the pipe to get anything on
it, no point in not just replacing it - paint won't do, and if you try
to slop enough epoxy on there to hope it will stick, it won't - the area
around the hole will be dirty and the epoxy will stick everywhere else,
making the eventual removal of the pipe more difficult when it still
leaks. For an accessible leak you can clean and shut off the water for,
epoxy can work.
Radiator stop-leak (the automotive product) might just work, and might
just cause other side effects you'd rather not have in your heating
system. There may be a version intended for heating systems with less
side effects, but it's a kludge in any case, not a repair.
If accessible, a tight wrap of waterproof electrical tape can hold up
far longer than you might expect (on a well-cleaned pipe), but it's not
So, cut the pipe below, lift out the radiator and the bad section,
work on it at sawhorse height, then lower the new work into the
hole and make the final join below. Hoisting the radiator is the
only hard part. If quarters underneath are cramped, it might pay to
use those push-on coupler gizmos (sharkbite, I think).
What is the floor material? The reason I ask is that you may not have
the situation others have referred to where the pipe is rotting from
the inside. I had a pipe in my house develop pinholes where it passed
through a tile/cement wall. The pipe was eaten from the outside.
can JB Weld do this fix? I've never tried it.
"boiler sealer" used to be a common product used for that kind of
repair. "irontitie" was a common brand and is still available -. Just
checked my bottle - it says "Irontite products of Canada Ltd, 295
Norfinch Drive, Downsview Ontario."
I found a pipe repair epoxy tape in McMaster Carr. I'll try that,
when, not if, it fails I'll call in a pro. This is the worst possible
spot. There's fifty feet of baseboard radiator all around the north
end of the house. The bad spot is right at floor level going up to
where the radiator starts. I can see no way to move the radiator
without tearing out a bunch of sheet rock walls.
my excitement only lasted a second. Here's what google found:
(I have baseboard raditors and a water lubricated pump)
A leak or crack in your boiler can be fixed with a simple sealer
solution. These boiler seals are designed to be used in steam or hot
water boilers. It creates a chemical seal that is tough, expands with
heat and resists pressure. Very similar to products you can purchase
for your car, the seal works by mixing with the water in the boiler
and creates a gummy seal in any cracks or small holes. The liquid
seals are not to be used in systems with water lubricated pumps, or
base board radiators. It should also not be used on excessive leaks,
as it won?t work on very large cracks or holes.
I have drained the water, tinned the outside of the leaking pipe
around the hole. Then I split a scrap of the same size pipe. Tin the
inside of that piece of copper, then sweat them together with a large
soldering iron. If I need room to work safely I will drill a couple
holes to remove a little of the floor or wall, then fill the gap with
Shut off the water and drain as much as you can beforehand, hoping to put it
on a dry surface with no pressure behind it. If you can get to it, sand the
outside of the tubing. Let it stand for 12 hours before pressurizing.
Irontite can be used in pump circulated systems as it is also sold for
use in automotive engines (and radiators) It also searves as a water
pump lubricant according to the label on the bottle.
Oh - you want the Irontite AllWeather seal, NOT the Ceramic.
My bottle is old. It's now a Kwik-Way product.