Today you’ll learn how to fix a copper pipe.
Here’s the Story:
Last Sunday I got a frantic text from my wife…
…water was leaking from the kitchen ceiling!!!!!!!
What would you do in this situation?
If you don’t have an immediate answer you’re in luck.
Seriously, EVERY homeowner should know how to fix leaky copper pies.
Let’s dive in.
Why Learn to Fix Leaky Copper Pipes
How much does a plumber cost on Sunday?
You don’t want to find out…trust me.
So it’s good to know how to repair copper pipe leaks.
After today you’ll have the confidence to do this yourself.
Here are the supplies you need
- SharkBite Couplings
- SharkBite Depth Tool
- AutoCut Copper Pipe Cutter
- Ridgid No. 10 or 15 Tubing Cutter
- Milwaukee PEX Tubing Cutter
- Emery Cloth
- Drywall Saw
- Utility Knife
- PEX (optional)
- Copper Pipe (Type L)
- Sharpie Marker
- These Amazon Links help support Home Repair Tutor, many thanks for using them
You don’t need all these tools.
But they’re nice to know about.
What’s the first step when assessing a water leak?
How to Start a Copper Pipe Repair
Unless there’s water gushing from the ceiling, leave the water on.
That way you can identify the location of the leaking pipe.
I know this sounds NUTS, but it helps spot the leak.
Feel the ceiling or wall for sponginess.
Saw a small square or rectangle in your drywall ceiling.
Yah, this is scary but you have to do it — PLUS your drywall is ruined, so who cares, lol.
Do your best Magnum PI impression and inspect for the leaking pipe.
Mustache is NOT optional.
Here’s what I found:
…a copper pipe pinhole leak, FUN TIMES
Once you locate the pipe leak, shut the water off to the house.
Drain the water lines, I did this at our laundry tub.
Please excuse it’s grime. I wasn’t expecting to do this tutorial on a Sunday night!!
Whew, dealing with a water leak can be stressful.
What’s the easiest way to repair a pipe leak?
Can You Fix a Copper Pipe Leak Without Soldering?
Fortunately I had some spare 1/2 inch SharkBite couplings in my tool box
These slide onto copper, PVC, or PEX pipes.
AND anyone can use them.
Start the repair by cutting out the leaky piece of pipe.
This is surprisingly cathartic (in the video I show you my favorite tool for doing this)
It’s not a bad idea to hold a container under the pipe.
When you cut it, any extra water will drain – prior experience and harsh words from my wife have trained me to do this!
If you use copper choose Type L because it’s thicker than Type M and will last longer.
Debur your copper pipe with a pipe cutting tool or utility knife.
This is ULTRA important for SharkBites (or soldering if you choose to go that route).
Then smooth down the first 1 inch of copper pipe with emery cloth.
Why I Love SharkBites
SharkBite fittings are great because you simply push them onto pipes.
Seriously, I’m pretty sure my 11 year old daughter can use them.
You need to make sure they fit on the end of the pipe by 1 inch.
Use the SharkBite depth tool or a measuring tape to make your mark.
Push the SharkBite onto the pipe and make sure it’s flush with the mark.
Since we’ve had issues with copper I chose to use PEX as my replacement pipe.
Cut the end of the PEX square with a PEX tubing cutter, Milwaukee makes a good one.
(NOTE: PEX tube cutters make great cigar cutters, too)
In the ceiling, I cut the copper 2 inches shy of the T fitting.
I had to debur and emery cloth this pipe as well.
Then I made my 1 inch mark for the SharkBite fitting.
How to Install SharkBites on Copper Pipes
There was slack in my copper line, so I decided to use two 1/2″ SharkBite couplings.
If you don’t have slack in your copper line you can use a SharkBite Slip Fitting.
The Slip Fitting can slide on the pipe and allow you to attach your replacement pipe without trouble.
Measure the distance between your two SharkBite couplings and add 2 inches onto your dimension.
I’m not good with measurements but this is easy.
This is the dimension for your new piece of pipe.
Once it’s cut square, debured, and emery clothed you simply push it into the two SharkBite couplings.
The video tutorial has a few extra tips…
…PLUS a cool SURPRISE giveaway.
I explain the giveaway in the video
SharkBites and PEX fittings are great options if you want to avoid soldering.
Our PEX Pipe tutorial is a great if you’ve never used it.
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.