4 Ways to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe

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 with solvent cement. The bad news is that if you get a leak in a PVC joint or pipe, you can't separate the joints to replace the leaky parts. A permanent repair usually requires cutting back the pipe and installing new couplings and replacement parts, or re-plumbing an entire section of piping. 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.

The same repair methods will also work for ABS pipes, which are also unpressurized drain pipes. While PVC pipes are generally white or cream-colored, ABS is a black plastic. However plastic water supply pipes are made CPVC plastic are pressurized, and thus are not suitable for the same methods of making temporary repairs. CPVC pipes are also white or cream-colored, but they are generally small diameter-pipes, 1/2- or 3/4-inch in diameter. And it will be quite obvious if these are pressurized water-supply pipes, as leaks in the pipes or fittings will cause water to spray out.

  • 01 of 04

    Rubber or Silicone Repair Tape

    Plumber working under a kitchen sink

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    Rubber and silicone repair tape is a thick, heavy-duty tape that sticks to itself rather than the part you are fixing. It is stretchy and a little gummy so it can be stretched and stuck to itself to increase the compression of the tape wraps.

    Wrap the tape very tightly around the leaky PVC joint or pipe, extending the wraps well beyond the repair area. 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.

  • 02 of 04

    Repair Epoxy

    Repair epoxies designed to bond to PVC and other plastics commonly come in putty and liquid (syringe) forms. Both can be used to repair PVC joint and pipe leaks.

    Dry the area and apply the epoxy as directed by the manufacturer. Most types set in about 25 minutes but may take an hour or more to reach full strength. 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. 

  • 03 of 04

    Fiberglass Wrap

    Fiberglass wrap is a fiberglass cloth coated with water-activated resin. To use it, wet the cloth in water and wrap it around the leaky PVC pipe or joint, and allow the resin to hardens for 10 or 15 minutes. Follow the manufacturer's application tips for the best results, and try to extend the wrap at least 2 inches on each side of the leaking area. 

  • 04 of 04

    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.

    Open the hose clamps all the way so you can separate them and get them around the pipe. Wrap the rubber around the leaking part, then tighten a hose clamp at both ends of the rubber, compressing the rubber piece around the leak. This will usually stop or at least greatly slow down the leak and buy you some time for a permanent repair. 

    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 pipe.