joint leaksWhen it comes to fixing plumbing leaks, we always think of it as something we do when we already see one. But you should know that the most ideal time to do it is before it actually happens. To do that, you just have to make sure that you properly connect water supply and the waste line fittings. Sounds easy, right? In fact, it is; provided you know what you’re doing.

The best thing about having the internet these days is you get all sorts of advice when it comes to plumbing problems at home, including those involving your plumbing joints. Take for instance this article from The Family Handyman titled “Stop Leaks in Plumbing Joints.” It talks about several aspect of joint repairs, but I want to emphasize on certain tips I find to be the most important ones:

Use two types of Teflon on threaded joints

Connections that rely on threaded pipes and fittings are prone to leaks if they’re not sealed with either Teflon tape or Teflon pipe joint compound. Careful plumbers use both on every joint for extra security. They don’t want to come back.

Start by wrapping the male threads with Teflon tape. With the end of the threaded pipe facing you as shown, wrap the tape clockwise. Usually three layers is enough. Once in a while, you’ll run into a loose fitting that requires four or five wraps. Stretch and tear the tape to complete the wrap.

Spread a thin layer of Teflon pipe joint compound over the tape. If you’re working with plastic pipe, choose Teflon pipe joint compound that’s compatible with it. Then start the threads by hand before tightening the connection with wrenches. Wipe away the excess.

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That type of job mentioned above can be performed by you and without the plumber’s help. It is one of those very easy tasks that won’t require you any fancy tool or force you to pay money for a handyman’s services. As you will realize, the use of two different types of Teflon is a great idea to stop those threaded joints from leaking again and again.

For push fit fittings meanwhile, the job might be a little more challenging. But still, it’s doable for any homeowner who is interested in learning how to do it. If you’re not sure if you have push fit fittings at home, this is what they look like:

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So here’s a brief guide on how you should be dealing with a leak in this kind of plumbing joint, courtesy of DIYFixIt:

There are several reasons why a push-fit fitting may be leaking and you will need to do a little investigation to determine what’s wrong. If the pipe is not fully located into the connection and sitting fully against the internal stop, it may be possible to stop the leak by pushing the pipe in fully. Otherwise, you will need to drain down this section of pipe work.

Dismantle the joint – this will either be using the special key tool or by pushing the collet towards the fitting, depending on the type used. Inspect the pipe end for damage. On plastic pipe there will be a metal pipe insert which should sit cleanly and squarely inside the pipe end. If the pipe end is not square this may be the problem. Check both the securing ring and O ring seal for any signs of damage. Do not put your fingers into the fitting – they can be extremely sharp. If there is damage, use a new fitting making sure to keep it clean in the process. Dirt and debris in this type of fitting can easily cause the joint to fail.

Last but not the least, you also might need to learn how to handle leaks around compression fittings, provided you have copper pipes in your plumbing. This article by Gary Sprague for Home Guides gives you the best advice online:

1 – Turn off the water supply to the fitting. Hold the base of the compression fitting with a wrench. With the other wrench, turn the compression nut counter clockwise 1/4 turn. Loosening the nut first will break up any corrosion and allow greater tightening ease. Place a little pipe thread compound around the compression ring, also known as a ferrule, and tighten the nut clockwise a little past the original position. Turn water back on and check for leaks. If the fitting continues to leak, replace the ferrule.

2 – Turn the water supply off. Loosen the compression nut with a wrench and slide it up the pipe. Remove the pipe from the compression fitting. Cut the pipe with a copper pipe cutter to remove the ferrule. Slide a new ferrule onto the pipe. Check to make sure there are no dents or bends in the pipe, or the ring will not compress correctly.

3 – Insert the pipe into the fitting, making sure the pipe is all the way into the fitting. Slide the ring down to the compression seat and apply pipe thread compound. Slide the nut to the fitting and hand tighten clockwise. Hold the fitting with one wrench and with another wrench tighten the nut until resistance is felt, then tighten it another 1/4 turn. Turn the water back on and check for leaks. If there is a leak, turn the water back off and tighten the nut 1/4 turn at a time until all leakage stops.

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These tips are quite to easy to learn if you only put in the right effort and time. You do have to realize that of all home improvement and repair jobs, it is dealing with leaks that you as a homeowner can manage before greater or a more serious damage happens.