Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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A leaking soil pipe (also known as a waste line) can be a real snag in an otherwise good day. Not only do you have a leak in your home, but it's gnarly water. It isn't that nice, clear stuff you're used to - no, it's dark, muddy, and overall unpleasant water. Depending on where the leak is, it can be a relatively easy or difficult fix. Now don't get me wrong, it won't be "done in 5 minutes" easy. I mean easy compared to ripping up your flooring to get to the pipe in question.
Short of replacing the leaking soil pipe, you have a few options: pipe repair bandages, plastic repair epoxy putty, and waterproof pipe repair tape. None of them will solve the problem - the only way to do that is to replace the pipe, but it can reduce the damage and give you time.
Now onto the fix, with haste!
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First things first - you need to locate the leak. Generally, your soil pipe goes beneath the house or in the crawlspace and connect to the main sewer line. It could be backed with ABS plastic or fitted with white PVC plastic, depending on your local building codes.
The best way to locate the leak is with your eyes. Yeah, I know - "no duh!" But seriously, your best bet is to physically follow the pipe (or its path) and look for dark patches, drips, or puddles. If this leak went unnoticed for a while, it's very likely that you'll have a rather clearly water damaged spot to find.
Likely points for leaks are the joints and junctions of your plumbing, as well as the point at which the waste pipe connects to the main sewer line.
Now, a warning. Unless you're very comfortable with plumbing, you should hire a professional to do this. They will do it better, faster, and more safely.
This should be your first stop when trying to patch the hole. Waterproof repair tape comes in a number of forms, but what you're looking for are those made with self-fusing silicone. This will provide a much better waterproof barrier than other forms of waterproofing repair tape.
Wrap the tape around the damaged area liberally. It will bond to the pipe itself and form a "rubber band" around the leak. It's a high-pressure repair, luckily, meaning it can handle up to 30 bar of pressure. That means that, theoretically, it should fix the issue for a much longer time than the other options below.
But again, you should absolutely replace the waste pipe after doing this. It just gives you room and time to breathe and prepare.
If you found small sections that the tape couldn't reach, or there were small cracks or holes, this should be your next step. Epoxy putty is a great first stop for waste pipes with minor visible damage beyond a few pinholes or hairline cracks. If, however, you're working with a toilet PVC waste pipe, using a plastic repair epoxy putty stick may be better.
Unlike 2-part epoxies, putty stick some premixed and formatted, taking out mixing from the equation. This reduces the chance that you can improperly mix the putty and makes it overall much easier to patch things up. Just break off what you need and knead it by hand into place.
Kneading the putty causes a chemical reaction. It will turn from a soft substance to one that's solid as a rock and will change colour. Your goal is to knead it enough to turn one uniform colour, and then get it into place before it fully hardens. It can bond to pretty much anything, but ensuring you have a plastic repair putty will provide the best seal. A nice bonus is that it'll blend into the white piping.
This should be your last stop. Not as in, "use all three in this order," but more of a "this is my last chance," emergency type of way. There are two reasons for this - first, both repair tape and putty will do the job better and last longer. It's also (at times) a bit more expensive, though that's a secondary concern compared to the quality of the repair.
Pipe repair bandages use a water-activated resin that cures as it comes into contact with water. When it's wrapped around the pipe, it hardens, forming a shell. This makes it go from a "temporary fix" to a permanent part of your plumbing .
I highly recommend reinforcing your pipe repair bandage with waterproof repair tape, plastic putty, or both. This will prevent any further stress from forming around the bandaged area, and ensure a solid, impact-resistant seal.
A leaking soil pipe is no fun. If you think you have one, your first step should be to locate the leak. Once that's done, you'll need to move on to repairing the leak. Depending on where the leak is , you may have a very easy or very hard time accessing it. It could be anywhere from your crawlspace/main sewer line, all the way to your bathroom. While you can repair the leak temporarily , most of the measures we suggest won't last forever.
Both plastic repair epoxy putty and waterproof pipe repair tape offer a long-term solution to leaks in most pipes, though they each have their place. Tape should be used to cover the large leaks, while epoxy putty can be applied to joints, hairline cracks, and pinholes. You can also use a pipe repair bandage, but these turn into a permanent part of your plumbing and don't work quite as well as the other options. One way or another, I highly recommend hiring a plumber to come take a look and fix the issue. They may decide that the damage is too severe to patch, which isn't something you're expected to be able to decide alone. In short, hire and trust a plumber unless you're dead set on doing this yourself.
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