How to Fix a Hole in a Water Pipe

Repairing a hole in a water pipe doesn't always require a plumber

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated July 12, 2022
Man repairing leaky sink pipes
Photo: Monkey Business / Adobe Stock
Difficulty

Intermediate

Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

2 hours

Cost

$25

These are costs related to the patching and clamping repair methods. If you need to replace a section of the pipe, budget an $0.50 to $4 per foot of new line, depending on whether you have PEX, CVC, or copper piping.

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Pipe cutter
  • Soldering tool
  • Towels
  • Clean rag

SUPPLIES

  • Water pipe patch kit
  • OR a pipe clamp kit
  • OR a new section of pipe

Whether you notice one or more of the hidden signs of a water leak or see an actual, full-fledged leak, acting right away is in your best interest. If left untreated, water seepage could lead to expensive repairs to your walls, appliances, or even your home’s foundation.

However, what’s not as clear is which strategy you should use to fix a pinhole (less than a half-inch) leak. Applying a clamp, securing a patch, or replacing your copper pipe altogether could all be warranted. This seven-step guide will teach you how to fix a hole in a water pipe depending on your situation.

  1. Turn off the Water Supply

    Before you can begin, turn off the water supply to your home. Grabbing a few towels to catch excess water when you begin your DIY repair is also a good idea.

  2. Assess the Damage

    Unless some type of trauma occurred to the pipe (i.e., something hit it), a small leak is generally a sign of long-term corrosion within. Unfortunately, this means it’s possible that other areas nearby could be wearing out, too. 

    The recommended solution depends on the location and extent of the damage:

    • A regular pinhole leak: Clamp or patch

    • A leak near or at the joint: Patch

    • A leak with obvious corrosion nearby: Cut and replace the pipe

    We explain all these options in step four below. Regardless of your repair approach, you’ll need to clean the pipe first. 

    If you have a water leak coming from an appliance, you can solve this by following some quick fixes for leaking pipes, such as replacing faucets or toilet parts. If a copper pipe has burst, though, you may need to hire a local plumbing repair specialist.

  3. Clean Off and Dry Your Copper Pipe Well

    Whether you’re applying tape, cutting and replacing a water pipe, or soldering a new pipe, moisture will make your handiwork much less effective. Whichever strategy you roll with, clean and dry off the surface of the pipe very well with a rag before starting.

  4. Clamp Your Water Pipe

    A pipe clamp repair kit ($10 at the hardware store) contains a metal sleeve with plastic tubing inside. This water leak solution is an effective temporary fix, useful for mid-winter leaks or putting off potentially extensive or expensive plumbing repair jobs. 

    Place the clamp over the affected area and screw it in tightly. Read and follow all instructions on the kit carefully.

  5. Patch your Water Pipe

    Patching your pipe is another solid temporary solution that allows you to repair damage at jointed areas of your plumbing. Sometimes, it’s the best option if you need a bit of time to save up for a local plumber to do the job, or they can’t get to you right away.

    You can purchase pipe repair patch kits at home improvement stores for around $10 to $15. This kit should include pipe repair tape, a pair of rubber gloves, and epoxy putty to help seal the leak. You’ll also need a small bucket of water to activate the tape.

    Some patch repair kits come with just putty, which is effective but more difficult to get off when you permanently replace the pipe. Keep in mind; you will need to sand this putty down later to make additional repairs. Use the whole roll of tape on the pipe section or tee or elbow joint unless otherwise instructed.

  6. Cut and Replace Your Water Pipe

    Cutting and replacing your water pipe may be the best solution if there are clear signs of corrosion and you feel savvy enough to tackle the job.

    Consider installing a stronger type of copper over the affected area. Type “M” copper is standard for households, but “L” is commercial grade. “L” costs more but is good for reinforcement.

    The key to this job is determining how much pipe to cut and replace. You want to cut away all areas of potential corrosion so you don’t have to do the same job again in six to 12 months. Rusty, white or bluish colors, as well as tiny holes or abrasions, are all signs that you should remove the area.

    Use a soldering tool (starting at $40 to $60) to secure the pipe. Ensure the area is bone dry before starting to solder, as moisture will prevent the copper from melting and sealing.

  7. Test Your Work

    Person turning on sink to test pipes
    Photo: OBprod / Adobe Stock

    Whichever strategy you choose, you’ll have to turn on the water to see if it worked. If it’s still leaking, shut the water off again and diagnose. Calling a plumbing repair specialist may be your best bet if you can’t get the leak to stop or don’t know how to proceed.

DIY Hole Repair vs. Hiring a Pro

You’ll save quite a bit of labor if you tackle minor leaks and yourself. Still, it’s important to know that most patch and clamp methods are temporary fixes, not permanent solutions. Water leaks in your plumbing are often the result of older, corroded pipes that need replacing. 

Temporary DIY solutions are pretty affordable with the proper knowledge and tools. But if you need to hire a pro, budget between $45 to $200 per hour to cover professional plumber costs. Usually, they can fix a leak for around $150 to $700, but replacing your water pipes will cost more depending on your plumbing material.

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Get quotes from top-rated pros.