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Plumbing Emergencies: What to Do When There's a Leak

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Water squirting from the plumbing fixtures can cause damage throughout the home. If the water leakage is not resolved as soon as possible, water that is pooling on the floor and the walls can easily cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Even small leaks that are hard to detect from the plumbing can cause water to pool overtime and have damaging effects. Studies have shown that water leakages account for 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of water loss each and every year, which can equates to a huge water bill for you. Do you have a water leak in your home? Here's what to do.

Shut Off Water Supply at Main Stopcock

All plumbing systems have a stopcock, which is a valve that can restrict or even completely stop the flow of water through the entire plumbing system in a home. There is at least one stopcock installed in your plumbing system although most of the time there are several installed responsible for restricting the water flow to different areas of the home.

A main stopcock should be found outside of the home. Turn the stopcock in a clockwise direction to shut off the entire water supply that is directed to your home. 

If the main stopcock is leaking, you can patch it up using either plumbing paste or polytetrafluoroethylene, otherwise known as PTFE. To patch up a leak, most experts recommend winding the PTFE at least 12 times around the thread in order to create a new seal for the stop valve.

Patch the Leakage

This procedure can be rather tricky; however, there are many different ways that a water leak can be resolved. The three most common options include: water pipe tape, water pipe epoxy and pipe patch kit. These options are typically used if the leakage is found on the piping. If the joint is leaking, you can try tightening the joints with an adjustable wrench or by hand until it is tight. Wipe of the leaking area of the piping before you proceed to repair it.

If you are using a water pipe tape, you should follow the directions and place it under water for the directed time, so that the epoxy compound in the tape is activated. Wrap the entire roll of the tape to the leaking area to create a 1/2 inch thick layer  Press the ends and smooth it onto the piping.

If you are using the water pipe epoxy, simply kneed the epoxy, press it down on the leaking area and wait for it to cure. Make sure that you are precise and accurate with the amount of epoxy that is needed.

Pipe patch kits vary from one another; however, the concept is essentially the same. You want to first smooth the surface of the pipe so that the rubber patch will adhere to the surface. You want to apply the patch onto the leaking area, and hold it in place with set-screws.

Check the Meter for Evidence of Water Loss

To confirm that the problem is solved, check for evidence of water loss by taking a look at the water meter. You can only use the water meter when all automatic water equipment, like irrigation systems and dishwashers, are turned off. You want to first record the water meter reading, and wait for at least 15 minutes before taking a look at the water meter again. If the reading has increased and the water meter indicates that there was water usage, then chances are that there is a larger leak that is unaccounted for.

Checking the meter won't necessarily help you determine whether there are small leaks, and where the leaks are, especially if you only wait for 15 minutes. To detect whether there are smaller leakages, look for water loss between a larger interval of time. Most of the time this can be difficult, especially if the property is occupied. 

Water leakages need to be addressed immediately; otherwise, you will be spending a fortune on the water bill, and the water that has pooled will cause damage to your home. With the many options that are available, fixing a water leak is quite easy; however, if you need more help, find more as you consult with an emergency plumber immediately. Don't wait. If you do, the problem could easily worsen within a few hours, if not less.


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