How to Repair a Leaky PVC Drain Pipe

5 Methods You Can Try

4 PVC Pipe Repair Types

The Spruce

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $25

PVC pipes and joint fittings are typically glued together with PVC solvent glue. These connections are quick and permanent, as the plastic parts are chemically fused together by the glue. The bad news is that if you get a leak in a PVC joint or pipe, it's impossible to separate the joints to replace the leaky parts. The permanent repair usually requires cutting back the pipe and installing new couplings and replacement parts,

But if you have a leak in a PVC drain pipe, often you can repair it temporarily until there's time for a permanent fix. Drain pipes are not pressurized, which makes temporary repairs relatively effective.

Before You Begin

The same repair methods described here will also work for ABS pipes, which are also unpressurized drain pipes. While PVC pipes are generally white, ABS is a black plastic.

One type of plastic pipe is not suitable for this type of repair, however. Some pressurized water supply pipes are made from CPVC, which are usually cream-colored plastic pipes, 1/2 or 3/4 inch in diameter. If you have a leak in a CPVC water supply pipe, the leak will be vigorous and impossible to ignore, and you must turn to other repair methods—usually turning off the water supply and replacing the bad section of pipe.

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Watch Now: Best Ways to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Using Rubber or Silicone Repair Tape

  • Scissors or utility knife

Using Repair Epoxy

  • Plastic disposable putty knife (if needed)

Using Fiberglass Wrap

  • Scissors or utility knife

Using Rubber and Hose Clamps

  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Screwdriver

Replacing Pipes and Fittings

  • PVC tubing cutter

Materials

Using Rubber or Silicone Repair Tape

  • Clean rag
  • Rubber or silicone repair tape

Using Repair Epoxy

  • Clean rag
  • Two-part epoxy patch kit

Using Fiberglass Wrap

  • Clean rag
  • Fiberglass wrap

Using Rubber and Hose Clamps

  • Clean rag
  • Piece of sheet rubber
  • Two or more worm-gear hose clamps to fit pipe

Replacing Pipe or Fittings

  • Replacement PVC pipe and fittings, as needed
  • PVC pipe primer
  • PVC solvent glue with applicator

Instructions

How to Repair a PVC Pipe With Rubber or Silicone Repair Tape

Rubber or silicone repair tape is a thick, heavy-duty tape that sticks to itself. It is stretchy and a little gummy so it can be stretched. Repair tape works best on cracks in a pipe rather than for joints that are leaking.

  1. Clean and Dry the Pipe

    Use a clean rag to wipe down the pipe or fitting so it is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Repair tape has a better chance for success if it can form a tight bond directly against the PVC plastic.

  2. Wrap With Repair Tape

    Cut a piece of repair tape and wrap it very tightly around the leaky PVC joint or pipe, extending the wraps well beyond the repair area on both sides. One advantage of repair tape is that it can be wrapped in a spiral fashion for a considerable distance if a lengthwise split appears in a pipe. However, it can be difficult to apply in tight spaces, where you may need to cut a length of tape and carefully thread it around the pipe.

    person using silicone tape on a PVC pipe

    The Spruce

  3. Test the Repair

    Run water through the drain and watch the repair area for leaking. Repair tape should be viewed as a temporary fix; you'll want to replace the bad section of pipe or fitting as soon as possible.

How to Repair a PVC Pipe Using Repair Epoxy

Repair epoxies designed to bond to PVC and other plastics commonly come in both putty and liquid (syringe) forms. This is the best solution for leaking fittings, though it will also work on pipe cracks.

  1. Clean and Dry the Pipe

    Use a clean rag to thoroughly clean the pipe or fitting, and make sure it is completely dry. The epoxy will bond best to a pipe that is completely dry and clean.

    placing epoxy on a PVC pipe

    The Spruce

  2. Mix the Repair Epoxy

    Mix the epoxy patch material as directed by the manufacturer. Virtually all such products are two-part formulas, requiring that you mix a catalyst/hardener into an epoxy resin to create an activated patch material.

    Many products come in syringe-form that are self-mixing as you depress the plungers on tubes that are connected side-by-side. These products typically produce a liquid epoxy material that is dabbed or spread over the repair area directly from the syringe applicator. Other repair epoxies require hand-mixing to produce a putty-like repair material that can be applied with a craft stick or disposable putty knife.

    Liquid epoxy is thinner than putty and may be better for leaks in tight spaces, such as where drain pipes run through holes in studs or other framing members. 

    You will have a limited amount of time to work with the epoxy, so once it is mixed, move directly to applying it to the area that needs repair.

  3. Apply the Epoxy

    Thoroughly coat the area of the pipe where the leak is occurring. On leaky joints, it's usually best to run a bead of epoxy around the entire joint.

  4. Allow to Cure, Then Test

    Allow the epoxy to harden as directed by the manufacturer. Most types set in about 25 minutes but may take an hour or more to reach full strength. After the epoxy hardens fully, run water through the drain and watch the repair area to make sure there is no leaking.

How to Fix a PVC Pipe With Fiberglass Wrap

Fiberglass wrap is a fiberglass cloth coated with water-activated resin. It is best for patching leaks in the walls of a pipe rather than for leaky joints.

  1. Clean and Dry the Pipe

    Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe the pipe clean of residue and moisture. The patch fabric will bond best if it has a tight seal against the pipe, free of contaminants.

  2. Cut and Apply the Wrap

    Cut a piece of fiberglass wrap to fit around the repair area.

    Wet the fiberglass fabric, then wrap it tightly around the pipe over the repair area. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the best results, and try to extend the wrap at least 2 inches on each side of the leaking area. 

    using fiberglass wrap on a pipe

    The Spruce

  3. Allow the Wrap to Harden

    Allow the activated resin in the fiberglass wrap to harden fully—with most products this takes 15 to 20 minutes.

How to Repair a PVC Pipe With Rubber and Hose Clamps

A thick piece of rubber and a couple of hose clamps makes for a down-and-dirty temporary repair that you can apply without having to go to the store for supplies. If the leak is isolated to one area and not split down the length of a joint or a piece of pipe, then you can usually get a piece of rubber around it. An old bicycle inner tube makes a good source of patching rubber.

This repair works best on smooth sections of pipe, where the rubber can make full contact with the pipe surface. It does not work well on contours or on edges where fittings meet the pipe. 

  1. Clean the PIpe

    Use a clean dry rag to thoughly wipe down and dry the pipe around the repair area.

  2. Cut a Rubber Patch

    Use scissors or a utility knife to cut a patch of sheet rubber to fit around the crack in the pipe. Position the patch over the damaged area of the pipe.

  3. Attach the Hose Clamps

    Loosen a pair of worm-gear hose clamps fully, then position them over the pipe and rubber patch. The clamps should be directly over the ends of the crack in the pipe. Tighten down the hose clamps until you see the rubber being forcefully compressed. Positioned correctly, the clamps should seal the crack completely.

  4. Test the Repair

    Run water through the drain and watch the repair area for signs of leaking. Rubber patches should be regarded as a stop-gap measure; it's best to have the bad pipe or fitting replaced as soon as possible.

How to Replace PVC Pipes or Fittings

The best repair of all is to cut out the damaged area of pipe or the bad fitting and insert new pipes and fittings in their place. This is the approach that will be taken if you hire a professional plumber to make the repair, but it is well within the reach of any DIYer who has some experience working with PVC pipes.

The process involves cutting out the bad section of pipe (or the bad fitting) using a PVC tubing cutter, then assembling and installing a new section of pipe and fittings using PVC solvent glue. The connection to the existing pipes is made with solvent-glued union fittings.

There are also convenient repair couplings available, which have union fittings already attached. You simply cut out the bad section of pipe, then install the repair coupling to the severed pipe stubs with solvent glue or with push-fit (Shark-bite) connections. These repair couplings can be especially useful for repairing breaks in PVC irrigation lines.