Paul's Plumbing Tips

Why These Quick Fixes Won't Work for Plumbing Emergencies

When your home has a plumbing emergency of any sort, you want to avoid trying to address this problem on your own. Plumbing emergencies, even those that are seemingly minor, need to be fixed appropriately in order for any type of repair to last and to avoid major plumbing disasters down the road. In some cases, your homemade fixes can even make a problem worse. Note why some common quick fixes won't work for many plumbing emergencies and why you should leave this work in the hands of a professional plumber instead.

Duct tape around connectors

When plumbing connectors come loose, you may notice slight leaks forming and water running down the outside of pipes. Duct tape is very sturdy and durable, but wrapping it around those connectors is not a good solution for this problem. The adhesion of the duct tape will eventually wear away because of being exposed to water, and the tape could then easily slide out of place or come unravelled, leading to a new water leak.

Note, too, that plumbing pipes are under pressure from running water, and they need a solid connector to hold them together. Duct tape is not strong enough to provide this security, and those pipes could easily burst at the connection, causing a flood. Have a plumber check the connectors and pipes for worn threads and then replace those pieces as needed.

Reheating a frozen pipe

If a pipe in your home has frozen, you want to avoid applying heat, trying to melt the ice inside. One reason for this is that it's very easy to apply too much heat, which could damage the pipe and cause it to crack; this is especially true for PVC or another type of plastic material.

Also, remember that water freezes as it expands. As ice forms inside the pipe, this expansion puts pressure on the pipe itself, weakening it. Heating an already weakened pipe then easily leads to cracks. Not only would this ruin the pipe, but any standing water could leak out, or even burst through the pipe, causing a flood.

Trying to reheat or melt ice in a pipe is also not as simple as it sounds; if there is ice in surrounding pipes, the water in the pipe you heat would have no place to go! If you assume the job is done and start using the water in your home again, this could cause backups and resultant floods. Have a plumber melt the ice properly or replace the pipe altogether, as needed.