How To Repair Pipes

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

The three most common types of pipes found in most homes are water supply lines, plumbing drains and gas lines. Your home will only have gas lines if you use natural gas or propane for appliances, such as a heating system, stove range or water heater.

If you suspect your gas lines need a pipe repair, shut the gas off at the main cut-off valve and immediately call a plumbing contractor. Attempting a DIY repair on a gas line can be extremely dangerous and should always be left to the professionals.

How to repair old pipes

Depending on the age of your home, the water supply lines and plumbing drains could be made from many different types of material. If you determine that one of these lines is leaking, it's usually a good idea to have a plumbing contractor do an inspection. The best way to do a pipe repair on some older lines is to replace a section with more modern materials and if the leak is age-related, the plumbing contractor may suggest upgrading the entire system.

DIY-friendly pipe repair

Regardless of how old your home's plumbing system is, these common pipe repairs are DIY friendly:

  1. Leaking faucets: Dripping faucets are irritating and waste a lot of water. Modern faucets are usually washerless, but older models use rubber washers that can easily be replaced by removing the faucet handles.
  2. Stopped-up drains: Commercial drain cleaning solutions often do a good job unclogging drain lines, but if you have a stubborn blockage, try a handheld plumbing auger. Big jobs might require using a power auger from your local tool rental shop.
  3. No hot water: Replacing hot water heater elements can be very DIY friendly. Shut off the power to the heater at your panel box, turn off the water supply to the tank and drain the heater prior to installing new elements. Never turn the power back on until the tank has been completely refilled.

Always keep in mind that an improperly done pipe repair can result in water damage to your home. If you think the job might be beyond your capabilities, call a professional plumber. Doing the job right the first time will save you money in the long run.