In essence, you do not need to know all the ins and outs of plumbing to take care of leaks at home. Considering how there are a plethora of affordable plumbers who are simply one phone call away, there is this lingering feeling that emergencies like these are and will always be covered. However, at the end of the day, it is still nice to develop a new set of skills or proficiencies that can be quite helpful and timely in the long run.
In this article, let us look at ways on how to fix some of the most common plumbing leaks that you might see in your home. Before anything else, it is imperative that you understand the different types of joints that you usually have at home. When we say joints in the plumbing world, we are talking about connections between pipes of like, or unlike materials.
Knowing the Basic Type of Joints
Iron Pipe Size (IPS) Joint
So, the most common, or one of the most common, is what we call an iron pipe size (IPS) joint. This is most likely found in gas, which is a no-no so stay away from it. An IPS joint also translates to other pipes such as brass nipples.
When you have a leak on something like a brass pipe, as long as it is not decayed or old or banged-up or dented or otherwise destroyed, then chances are you can seal that leak by doing two things. The first is by using Teflon tape, which is a non-sticky type of a sealing tape. You want to take the first few inches of it off and get rid of it because it has been dusty, before wrapping it around the pipe three times in the direction of the joint. In other words, you should turn clockwise and count to three. A lot of amateurs and homeowners will try to mummify the threads of these things and tape, but it is just not necessary.
The second solution is to use pipe dope, or pipe thread sealant. Know that you do not need a ton of this stuff. Like the Teflon tape, three is the magic number. With a pipe thread sealant, the first three threads are more than enough. Simply go gently around and make sure that you have got a film of it on the threads.
Now if we were to take this brass pipe and screw it into a fitting in the wall, we are turning it clockwise into the fitting. Once you feel it stop, it is going to be too much for your hands to do. That is where your trusty channel locks (or wrench) come in. You would basically grab down and turn it in.
A lot of people use brute force to turn these things in. However, before you call on your inner the Incredible Hulk, you should know that there are simpler and easier ways to accomplish this. The threads are tapered, so as you turn an IPS nipple in, those threads will bury into the fitting. You will leave about four threads, which is more than enough. Just a snug fit is good, as you do not want to damage the threads in the process.
Another type of joint that you will see in a home plumbing system is a compression joint. Now, it is critical to note beforehand that it works in a very different mechanism. There is a 3/8 compression coupling, which adjoins two sections of 3/8 pipes together.
A 3/8 compression coupling works on a nut and ferrule system. This type of joint has threads that are only in the nut to hold the ferrule down to the pipe, which is kind of a neat way of working. They call it compression because when you slip the nut over the pipe, followed by the ferrule, and spread it onto the coupling, the brass ferrule inside actually crushes down to the pipe wall. It crushes down so tight that it effectively makes one piece of pipe.
Once you crush the federal down to the pipe, it is on the pipe forever. So, if you need to make a repair, you have to get rid of it, then you have to cut it in another joint and fix it that way.
The last joint—with some exceptions in the plumbing system—is the one that we covered earlier, the soldered joint. This is generally seen on any pipe from a half-inch all the way up to an eight-inch. A lot of times, you see a different type of mechanical joint with them as well. But for the purpose of doing a home repair, that is going to be completely irrelevant.
If you had or have a leak on it, then that would most probably indicate either a poorly soldered joint in the first place, or just age corrosion, in which case you would cut out the affected area and install a new 90, connecting it altogether.