Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Repair a Leaking Buried Pipe

By:

“I have an outdoor leaking water pipe underground. How do I repair it?” -Larry

Assuming that you’ve located the site of the leak, and it’s not a water main but a pipe on the meter side of your house, the DIY option would be to dig a trench around the leak, repair the pipe, refill the hole, and patch the damage to your landscape. While fairly straightforward, it certainly won’t be easy (or clean) work.

If you don’t want to disturb your landscape, can’t find the source of the leak, or if the leak is in an inaccessible spot such as under a driveway, you may want to consider calling for reinforcements. Some plumbing contractors offer “trenchless” underground pipe repair involving resins and patches that can be inserted on the pipe from one end then moved into place.

If you decide to repair the leak yourself, keep these tips in mind:

  • Plan ahead: If this is the main supply line to your house, you’ll have to keep your water turned off while repairs are underway.
  • Building codes: Find out the current building codes regarding underground plumbing and get advice about the type of repair materials that work best and resist corrosion in your soil.
  • Buried utility lines: Call 811 and have the utility companies come out and mark the location of any underground gas lines, electrical wires, and other buried cables before you start digging!
  • Prepare for the worst: The pipe may be deteriorated and have to be replaced entirely. While you may not want to tackle that big a job, the time spent diagnosing the situation will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Digging: Make the trench large enough to access at least a foot of pipe on each side of the leak and a foot underneath it. You need room to work, and you need to be able to inspect the area to find out what may have caused the leak. Work carefully and slowly, making sure you don’t make the problem worse by hitting the pipe with a shovel.
  • Repairing Pipe: Once you’ve uncovered the pipe, measure the outside diameter and determine the type (PVC, copper, steel, etc.). You may even want to take a photo of it with you. Ask your local plumbing supply for help choosing the correct repair fittings. A knowledgeable sales associate can help you walk away with exactly what you need, including instructions.

Careful preparation and the proper tools, can make the difference between a plumbing repair and a plumbing nightmare, but even the best planned jobs can hit snags, so give yourself plenty of time.

Good luck!

Julie



Please Leave a Comment

2 Comments on “How to Repair a Leaking Buried Pipe”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  1. Toronto plumbing Says:
    March 24th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Nice tips, but if you need help you can also call a plumber. Sometimes doing business with professionals can save you a lot of time!!

  2. Jon Says:
    December 4th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Great tips! Outdoor plumbing can be very intimidating, but I found taking your time, planning, and consulting with an expert at my local harware store I was easily able to do this project my self, and save $400 that a plumber would have charged me.

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.