One of the most common repairs that our customers require is for a simple leaky plumbing connection. Older threaded copper fixtures attached to sinks, drains, and faucets, especially if they have been worked on numerous times, can develop breaches at the places that pipes or hoses connect. A simple fix for this requires only that you have some Teflon tape, a few tools, and the wherewithal to try to do the job yourself. Following a few simple steps can take you from a faulty supply valve or plumbing nut to proper operation in a few minutes.
- Identify the Leak – You should first verify that the leak is actually occurring at the fixture’s supply connection. Wiping the excess water off and watching where it runs from is generally the easiest way to do detect a leak.
- Turn off Water Main – Now that you know where your problem is, it is time to terminate flow to the fixture. This is done by turning off the main valve, which is generally found either under a grate near the street or inside a utility room.
- Gather Tools – You should now get together all the tools you will need for the job. This generally only requires a pair of any combination of channel locks, crescent wrenches, or pliers, as well as a wire brush and plumber’s tape.
- Place Catchment – Before you do any work, you should place something underneath the connector you will be working on. A bucket is generally a good idea but in more confined areas, you may consider a smaller container or just a towel.
- Remove Connector Now that you have something in place to catch the excess water, you should begin backing the plumbing nut or valve off by turning it counter-clockwise with your channel locks.
- Clean Threads – Now that you have the connector apart, you will need to clean both the male and female threads with the wire brush, taking care to remove green oxidation from copper surfaces. You should ensure that any oxidation or buildup is gone from the furrows between the threads.
- Wrap Male Threads – The male end of the connector should now be wrapped with your plumber’s tape. This will help fill in any gaps that have developed in the connector over time due to wear.
- Re-install Connector – Now that the threads are clean and covered in Teflon, it is time to put them back together. You should use the same pair of tools you used in step five to tighten the plumbing component by turning it clockwise.
- Turn Water Main Back on – Now that you have everything assembled as it was before, it is time to turn the water back on. This is done by reversing what you did in step two at the main valve.
- Verify the Leak is Gone – With the water back on, you should check to make sure that your leak is fixed by touching it and checking to ensure it is not wet. If the problem persists, you may need to further tighten the nut, being careful not to deform or strip the soft copper.
With the simple application of some Teflon tape, it is possible to get additional months or years out of your plumbing supply lines. The wear of these types of components is something that is unavoidable, so knowing how to deal with them cheaply and quickly can simplify some of the most troubling issues.
Good luck and thank you for reading!