The number one cause of frustration when installing or repairing water pipes is a leak in the plumbing joints. It takes time to put pipes, elbows, and couplings together, and few things are as maddening as getting everything assembled only to discover that there is a leak. You will then have no recourse but to go back and retighten the fittings to find out where the problem is. There is no guarantee that this will remedy things, however. You may turn on the water once again only to discover that the leak has not stopped.
If this keeps happening, it may not be your fault. Perhaps the fittings are low quality or defective. If this is the case, you will need to toss the fittings and get new ones.
Here are a few other causes of leaky plumbing joints:
- Threaded fittings – Fittings on metal or plastic pipes could be damaged by a misthreading of the male fitting. When unnecessary force is applied while tightening a fitting with a misthread, either the male or the female fitting could be damaged beyond use. Pipes must be threaded carefully and lightly before force is applied to tighten the fitting. It is also important to use Teflon tape or pipe compound to ensure that there is a watertight seal. Fittings that use washers may seem properly tight, but the washer may allow water to leak out.
- Soldered joints – Soldered copper joints can leak for a number of reasons. To ensure that the joints are watertight, ensure that pipes and fittings are thoroughly cleaned before soldering. A dirty surface will prevent proper sealing. At times, plumbers forget to apply flux to the pipe and fittings to be soldered. The acid flux creates the best condition for the solder to flow into the joint, sealing it tightly. Another reason for a leak in soldered joints is the failure to evenly heat the pipes before applying the solder. This may cause the solder to flow unevenly, resulting in gaps that will let water through. Use caution in heating the pipes. Overheating can result in the distortion or deformation of the fittings, making it impossible to have a sealed joint.
- Plastic pipes – Plastic pipes are joined together by softening the plastic with solvents, then fusing the pipes together. Cracks in the fitting, improper preparation, and the use of the wrong type of glue may result in poorly sealed joints. Before they are joined, plastic pipes must be cut with square ends. Clean the pipes with solvent before applying the glue. Then quickly insert the pipe into the fitting while making a quarter turn. This will ensure a watertight joint.
The use of proper procedures and the right materials in joining pipes will help prevent leaks.