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How to Fix a Pinhole Leak in a Copper Pipe

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As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in Bathroom Plumbing
Fix Copper Pipes in 10 Minutes

Pipe leaks can cost thousands of dollars.

NO FUN.

We’ve owned our home for 8 years and had 4 different copper pipe leaks.

The first time I called our plumber and he soldered in a new section of pipe for $97.

Second time around I soldered the pipe myself.

You might be thinking this will never happen, but I’m here to say it will.

And unfortunately the odds are pretty good that your leak will be over the weekend, in the evening, or during a holiday.

If you’re unfamiliar with Murphy’s Law just Google it, lol.

Today’s tutorial shares how to fix a pinhole leak in a copper pipe in less than 10 minutes.

Not many people know about this little product so you’re lucky 😀

I don’t know why but our leaks tend to occur in the kitchen.

Last fall I was getting ready to leave for work and noticed the ceiling was brown.

Sure enough the copper pipe sprung the tiniest little leak.

This is what that little pinhole in the copper pipe did

Pinhole Leak Result

After some curse words and drywall removal I was able to replace the pipe.

Had it been 1:00 am I wouldn’t have been so keen on tackling this project.

If your pipes spring a leak over the weekend or a holiday you’ll be charged a premium by your plumber.

That’s where the Oatey Fix-It stick comes in.

Fix It Stick

I learned about this years ago from a plumber friend.

This is an epoxy putty that costs $5-$10 and can be found at Home Depot or a local plumbing supply warehouse.

Oatey makes great plumbing materials, just my opinion, and this is no exception.

The great part about the Fix-It Stick is that you can use small pieces of it and store the rest for another disaster.

It’s a temporary fix that buys you time to replace the copper pipe yourself or call a plumber.

Throw on some gloves, tear off a small 1 or 2 inch piece of the putty, and shape it.

Shape Fix It Stick

You want the color of the mixed piece to be gray.

Once you have that color you can shape the putty around your copper pipe leak.

I like to push the putty into the pinhole then taper the edges with my hand.

Push Putty into Hole

This will ensure a watertight seal.

It’s also a good idea to turn the water off to your house and wipe off the pipe to eliminate any moisture or dirty.

This allows the Fix-It Stick to adhere properly and seal the leak.

Check out my quick video tutorial to see this in action. It’s so easy my 10 year old could do it 😀

 

What’s Next

Like I said, this is a great temporary fix until you can replace the pipe.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Ask your questions below and we’d be happy to help.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

59 Comments
  1. Vivian says:

    I learned something today. Thank you! I will be sure to pick the fix it stick up next time I’m in Home Depot. I’ll keep one at home and one at the restaurant – certainly hope we never need it, but if we can fix a little leak without calling a plumber – that would be very, very helpful! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Awesome Vivian, it’s amazing what the simplest tip can do…in this case saving money on water leaks. Restaurants in particular have some many moving parts with water and I have to imagine the last thing you want is to shut off the water because of a leak. Super happy this was helpful for you.

  2. Nancy Adkins says:

    I really could use a Fix-it-stick. As 78 do it yourself I learn something new everyday. My 151 year old house & my fixed income doesn’t allow me to call a plumber unless its something I can’t do myself.

    1. Something like the Fix-It Stick comes in handy for any home but for a 151 year old house, even more so. Having one of these in your toolbox is a must Nancy. Especially if you don’t want to call the plumber until you have to.

  3. Brenda says:

    I would love to win some of this to have on hand in case of an emergency. Oh, and Happy 14th Anniversary to you and your wife. May you be blessed with many more!!

    1. Awe, thanks Brenda. You’re so sweet.

  4. Nick Conrad says:

    Hey Jeff. Back in the day, when I was in the Navy in the late 60s, all the submarine guys were ” heads up ” on repairing leaks like you have. We used a saddle patch that was a heavy piece of rubber placed around the leak & held in place with clamps until we could isolate the system for repair ( days or weeks later ). We had leaks of high pressure water, steam, air, etc. Some between 2000 psi & 3000 psi.
    Your patch is a great one for the normal stuff we are ” slammed ” with. Best to all DYI!

    1. Leaks on a submarine, now that’s scary stuff. My home leaks are nothing compared to that Nick!!! I’ve read about those saddle patches, cool stuff. And you know they worked if under 2000-3000 PSI.

  5. Darlene Urban says:

    I love your brilliant ideas and how someone like me can save money and this is no exception. I have never heard of this but I agree, it’s something worth having on-hand for those time when you need it.

    Happy 14th anniversary – our 35th is coming up next month and we still have so much fun…I think that’s the secret…laugh every day.

    1. 35 Years, wow Darlene. Congratulations. I agree, laughing helps more than anything else. Gotta laugh 😀

      These little tips are so neat to share. It’s fun for me and I hope they’re helpful.

  6. Jimmy Stinnett says:

    I never have noticed this product before now. Thanks. It will be nice to have this around

    1. It’s in the plumbing section of Home Depot but you can also find it at plumbing supply warehouses Jimmy. Very cool product. Reminds me of MacGyver

  7. Heather G says:

    A cup of coffee and your post is a great way to start my day. Our pipes are under ground, except for the part that comes up to connect to faucets, etc. Not sure if they leaked I’d know what to do about it…tear up the cement?? But, this brings back my days of playing with Silly Putty 🙂 Great product! — the fix it stick epoxy…well, Silly Putty also.

    1. Lol, silly putty is too fun. Cool memories with that stuff.

      So, do you have a leak right now Heather?

  8. David Good says:

    Jeff,
    First off Happy Anniversary! Secondly thanks for the tip on this awesome product. I can’t tell you how many times I could have used this in the past to save stress and SLEEP! Just yesterday i discovered a leak in a pipe leading to my hot water heater and i have a rag with a bucket under it to prevent water damage until I or more likely a plumber can fix it. wishin I had some FIX-It-Sick! Thanks for all your tips, I’m a DIY’er from waaay back and will continue to be until my knees or back prevent it.

  9. Ginger says:

    My house has 64-year-old pipes, so I frequently have plumbing problems. I know any day, my pipes could spring a real leak, so it would be good to have a remedy on hand for when that day comes. I try to do the repairs on my home myself whenever possible.

  10. Jim B says:

    Thanks for the information. Hopefully I will not need it BUT

  11. JT says:

    Jeff, that was very educational especially as a leak is never going to happen at a good or convenient time!

  12. Jackie says:

    I’m looking at a few water spots on my kitchen ceiling thinking how much I am dreading what lies above. Single mom trying to tackle many DIY projects that are very much needed. Wish me luck!

  13. Joey Robinson says:

    Good stuff Jeff, thank you. I love your videos. I’d really like to see one where you replace/solder the pipe.

  14. Lee Wells says:

    This would be another great addition to my toolbox…thanks for the tip!
    I always look forward to your emails and tip….over the last 5 months or so on your email list your tips have literally saved me hundreds of dollars in labor and repair costs just by me DIY…..
    Thanks Jeff!

  15. Brenda D says:

    Jeff, to you and yours happy anniversary!!! I now have a small leak in a copper pipe in my basement that I have a bucket under. This would be a great product that I could put to the test right away and so I will be headed out to look for this product. My mom also has a leak so this will get use twice quickly. Thank you for all your help with things we thought no one else cared about.

  16. Dave says:

    Wish I had known of this product a few months ago — had the exact problem (pinhole leak) above the kitchen ceiling, and wound up with a $1,000 bill by the time the plumber cut out and replaced the portion of affected pipe and the drywall contractor replaced and primed the new ceiling drywall. Would love to win the give-away, but if not will surely head to Home Depot to purchase the product and have on hand if needed.

  17. donna hunter says:

    that was awesome. How easy was that. I did not know that there was something like that on the market. Learn something new everyday with you. Thank you.

  18. Della says:

    I’ve used that stuff to fix the broken handle of my favorite pair of scissors 2 years ago and it is still holding strong.
    I had bought the As Seen on TV version of that stuff at a discount store some time back well before my scissors broke. It came with 3 tubes in the box I think. The day I needed to use it, the putty in all 3 tubes was hard as rock. I got a fresh tube from an auto supply store for the scissors and today it is still malleable. I will remember to use it for pipes that leak in the future.
    Incidentally, 3 years ago we had the same problem as you from the upstairs bathroom in the leaving room ceiling. Repair cost was about $400.00, re-patching included. Insurance would not pay because they concluded the leak began to happen years ago!!!!!! Yet it may have taken 1 day to show a spot in the ceiling!!!! The plumber told us that the joining of 2 pipes was done improperly back in the late 50s resulting in the leak, well 50+ years later. It is supposed to be joined correctly now. I guess, I just have to trust that it is since I’m no plumbing expert.
    I am a paranoid freak about water leaks in my home, garden or car
    and attend to them immediately when discovered.
    Rock on Jeff.

  19. John says:

    Jeff, how long can the “Oatey Fix-it Stick” hang around before it gets hard? Should you buy it ahead of time or just when you need it?

  20. Lin says:

    Happy 14th Anniversary. I love getting your emails & reading up on your tips. I just had to have a plumber out and of course the leak had stopped (again) and with the water “stains” in few places on elbows/joints, he wasn’t sure where the leak started – might not be where I told him i saw the water dripping from. This stuff would have sure come in handy – in fact it will come in handy for when it starts again, I could stop it with this stuff myself. Thank you for all your help, really like your site.

  21. Therese says:

    Wish I had this last winter when I needed it! Happy Anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Jeff!

  22. Mike Ruf says:

    I used to live in St louis and we we had a 3 bedroom 2 bath house and a unfinished basement. I was in my mid 20’s and it was my first home I owned and did almost all repairs on. My wife had to be sure we always had a guest room, my first child (daughter) was due to arrive in 8 months or so. The office became her room! I started the process of doing the floor plan of the office in the basement. When it came to hanging drywall I asked my brother who live a block or two from me if he could help. He was very helpful until we had to make a special encasement for some copper pipes. He is very savvy and is about 10 – 15 years older than me (and a Civil Engineer). We were using my other brothers nail gun and well……my brother fired a nail right into the pipes not thinking about them. Immediate leak. We had to shut off the water to the whole house. So we when out and got on of those sleeves that you sweat onto the piece you are replacing. Getting all the water out to get the pipes hot enough to get the joint to take the solder was proving difficult. We had to get more water out of the lines to get them hot enough to sweat on. It put us a day or two behind. But when you need help, beggars can’t be choosers. I may have some pictures of that project on some of the 1st Generation Digital Cameras. Thank God for Sharkbite these days, but you never know what you will hit. I have a lot of work to do on my house, one never knows!!!

  23. waykno says:

    I currently have a very, very minor leak on my new hot water tank supply line (hot side). So minor that I only have some of the new stretch tape over it and a small bucket under it and it only does about a tenth of a bucket a month:) I keep putting it off. I think I almost have half of Home Depot’s inventory but never heard of this stuff–Oatey, yes, but not the Fix-it stick. I like your site and congrats on the happy day!
    PS Also, just recently learned of a copper pipe, no solder approach for some applications–called a shark bite. The HD guy showed me and I was impressed.

  24. Char says:

    Well Jeff, I ALWAYS learn something from your posts and am ever grateful. This one important.
    Wondering if you have stopped sending as often as I have not received in a very long time?
    Happiest Anniversary to you and your wife. JOY!
    Happy Memorial Day,
    Char
    PS: Queston: I am needing to redo old old pipes under this old house and have been trying to learn best : copper or plastic? Opinion please?
    And anyone else who reads this—wouldn’t mind your opinions as well!
    Thank you

  25. Tim Wallace says:

    Congrats on your anniversary Jeff! I just celebrated 8 years this past Tuesday.

    I’ve used a similar product called Water Weld to fix a leaking cooler I was using for homebrewing beer. It worked well for what I was doing and it sounds like this is an even better product. I hope to never have to deal with a problem like this, but who am I kidding? Of course I will at some point. Keep up the posts Jeff. I look forward to learning something new each Friday! Thanks!


    Tim

  26. John Popp says:

    That’s a great idea. It definitely would buy some time. And, if I don’t win the product, I plan to get one the next time I’m at the store. Thanks.

  27. Kevin says:

    Thanks for all your handy advice Jeff. I would love to have a Fix It Stick.

  28. Michelle says:

    Thanks so much for all of your tutorials, podcasts, and FB community! I’m a first time home-owner, and very inexperienced in the world of DIY, so your tutorials have taught me a lot. And your site is the first place I go when I have questions about how to do something home related!

  29. Mike W says:

    This is like you said something everyone should in their tool box. Thanks for alerting us to this product, even though we all hope we never will need it. Great insurance for sure.

  30. Walter says:

    Unfortunately, this happened to me About two years ago. However, the copper pipe was leaking in a 90 degree angle in the piping. I didn’t realize it until a piece of cabinetry went right through a wall in the kitchen! This was one of the reasons I became a DIYer. So something good came out of it I guess… Thanks for all the great tips!

  31. Andrea says:

    WOW, Jeff. Another great tip for a 69 year old widowed homeowner. one question – how long does this temporary fix last? and what is the shelf life of the tube? Well, two questions 🙂

  32. Squafdonoboles says:

    I’m wondering if this can be used on PVC pipes.

  33. I own an aerial photography company. I could use the putty to help secure camera mounts on my drones better than they are now!

  34. AL. RAMOS says:

    Fortunately we’ve never had to deal with any leaks in our home and hope we never do but its good to be prepared. Thanks. AL.

  35. waykno says:

    Hi again–went to Home Depot yesterday. Looked all over for this and didn’t find it. I asked 3 employees in the plumbing area and none of them had heard of it. Two of them helped me look for it too. I did buy a similar item but not by that maker or name:-)

  36. David Nelson says:

    Wow, wish I had this FastFix last month! Plumber’s up $293. I’m going to get some today.

  37. Steve Holt says:

    Thanks for posting this! I woke up to find that three of my pipes have leaks in them. How about that? It’s great that there’s an easy way to repair them. Using an epoxy putty seems like it would save a lot of time and money to fix my pipes. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find an epoxy putty that will work really well on my pipes.

  38. paul holton says:

    do the job properly this grunge will last until the plumber comes and charges you the same regardless. this stuff is a gimmick, you buy it repair it then pay the plumber the same price anyway. and you’ve paid for the gimmick on top. no way this crap is a fix temporarily it will buy you a couple of minutes. good marketing though! get the job done properly. PS i am not a plumber

    1. Thanks Paul for you feedback, but SharkBites are not a gimmick and they’ve held up for years…over 5 years and counting. This is a great solution for a pinhole leak or copper pipe that’s gone bad. I firmly believe in them for any homeowner. At the very least they could be used in an emergency then the pipe could be soldered back together the next day.

  39. Rhianna says:

    Omg this stuff is crap!!!!!!!

    We had to do these steps twice cause it leaked still the first time and leaking still fater second.time. it just comes out under the taper.

    1. Sorry to hear about your struggles Rhianna, here’s a second method that will help

      http://hrtllc.wpengine.com/how-to-fix-a-copper-pipe-without-soldering/

      This method uses SharkBite fittings that push onto pipes.

      And if you have a question please feel free to post it here, I’ll assist

  40. Mone says:

    Hi i saw your video on youtube. Could you please let me know Fixed it Stick work on Frozen crack (1/5″) of copper pipe?

  41. dhaval says:

    with which temperate range this fix it putty works?

  42. Jagjit says:

    Hi Jeff
    I was looking for something to hold the shower head pipe solid in its place because its flimsy & flexing when i move the shower head, which is not good for joints inside the wall. So i will use this to fill a gap around the pipe coming out of the wall & tiles to hold it solid.
    Thanks
    Jagjit

  43. Will Nowall says:

    Well it is the weekend and I have a pinhole leak in a t-joint of my copper pipe. Is this stuff permanent?

  44. Derrick says:

    Well, thank you for this very informative topic. I was just looking on the web. And came across this webpage. And your situation, sounds about like mine. And I’m going to try this. And maybe let you know how it turned out. And by the way. Happy late anniversary.

    1. Thanks Derrick, super appreciate your kind words. Hope this fix helps you out. I’m going to send you a separate email with another link. It’s to a different tutorial that might come in handy.

      Just in case you read this first…

      http://hrtllc.wpengine.com/how-to-fix-a-copper-pipe-without-soldering/

      This one is a bit more permanent

  45. Mohammad says:

    Jeff
    A quick guestion. We have 3/4 and 1 inch copper pipes for our heating system ( hot water system)
    I have noticed white chalk like deposits on a portion of pipe in our basement . What could be be reason for that ?
    Is it serious . I have asked my plumber and he said I clean it and then apply some veg oil
    or a grease to prevent it from happening again.
    I know that the green deposits are caused by the left over flux ( over the joints)
    But what exactly causes this white dry chalk like deposits on the pipe itself- is it a slow pin hole water leak ?
    And how would I go about fixing it ? Apply some sort of metal adhesive epoxy or a metal protector liquid?
    Would greatly appreciate your valuable and kind advice
    Thanks

    1. It’s hard to say Mohammad, sounds like condensation on the pipe that has dried and left mineral deposits. If there’s no water spraying from the pipe then it’s likely not related to a leak.

  46. Mohammad says:

    Thanks so much Jeff for your kind response.
    Yes it was all due to condensation plus humidity from the washer/dryer use. I clean the white chalky deposits – No leaks !. After cleaning I installed the foam tubes for insulation. All came out OK.

    The videos you have are GREAT! Your videos are extremely helpful. Keep it up.
    I was able to replace a broken garage door extension by watching your video.
    Thanks a bunch for all your great and detailed instructions and videos!!!

  47. Mohammad Mujtaba says:

    Hi Jeff
    I have not gone through all of your great videos / tutorials yet but I am just wondering if you could address the following topics too, in your tutorials( whenever you have a chance:
    1) fixing leaking and / or ” squeaking ” ” american standard” bathroom faucets
    2) regular maintenance of heating boilers / water heaters?
    3) changing the ” anode rod” and a ” outlet valve ” of a water heater ?
    3a) replacing the expansion tank of a water heating system ?
    4) options for insulating basement wall/ceiling joist spaces ( blue denim, fiberglass etc ) ?
    4a) insulation of a wooden sectional garage door ? Winter maintenance of a garage door ?
    5) soldering the copper pipe with a ” just for copper liquid” – is it good or should we just use ” shark bite ” or ” regular soldering ” ?
    6) some more tips on regular soldering of a copper pipe . ?
    7) repairing of different kinds of leaky stems of a valves like ” ball valves” ” gate valves ” ” drain valves “.
    I will and I am sure some other DIY guys would very much appreciate your very valuable advice.
    Thanks again
    Mohammad

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