What to Do When You Can’t Turn the Water Off
When you can’t turn the water off…
If you can’t turn the water off — either because of a faulty stopcock; or because there isn’t one — use a pipe freezer to stem the flow temporarily.
Professional pipe freezers can be hired, but it’s usually easier to buy a freezing kit (eg ‘Artie’) consisting of an aerosol spray and freezing muff which you tie over the pipe. These kits are perfectly capable of coping with mains pressure pipes — which is usually where they are most needed.
Using a pipe freezer
Plan things thoroughly before you start: have all your tools to hand, plus a suitable size flexible connector, or a new section of pipe and slip couplings. You also need a watch or timer to time the cooling process, which is critical to the successful formation of an ice plug that will completely block the flow of water.
Aim to complete the job as quickly as possible, but don’t panic — the ice plug will remain in place for up to half an hour.
Leaks in plastic pipe
The problem with repairing plastic supply pipes is knowing what type of plastic they are.
cPVC pipe (generally white) has solvent-welded joints. Simply cut back to the nearest joints, then join in a new piece.
Polyethylene-based pipe (blue or black) can be push-fit or compression jointed (using steel reinforcing sleeves). However, its often easier to buy a copper flexible connector and use this to replace the damaged section.
1. Select an area to freeze, at least 600mm (2′) upstream of the damaged part. Fit the tube to the muff and secure the ends tightly around the pipe.
2. Fit the can to the tube and G spray in the freezing agent. Wait the recommended amount of time for the ice plug to form, then get to work.
3. Cut out the damaged section a and fit a flexible connector or a new piece of pipe and slip couplings. Then simply wait for the ice plug to melt.