A soil pipe system performs a fundamental function in every home and while they are extremely durable by design, soil or waste pipe leaking can occur due to a number of causes such as a loose connector, damaged joint or broken rubber seal. Fortunately, a leaking soil pipe isn’t too difficult to repair or replace, providing there is adequate access. It’s important to be fixed as soon as it is identified however, as when any type of soil or waste pipe has been leaking for some time it can eventually cause significant water damage. That means it’s important that everyone knows how to spot soil pipe leaks, and how they can be repaired so we will not go over some of the common issues in this blog post.
What is a Soil Pipe?
Within houses and commercial buildings there are various amenities that create waste water and this water is transported away from properties into the main sewer system via either soil pipes (which remove soiled water from toilets, bidets and urinals) or waste pipes (which remove waste water from washing machines, bathroom and kitchen sinks, showers, baths, and dishwashers). In older properties these two systems run separately with the different types of waste (sometimes referred to as blackwater and greywater) only combining shortly before it reaches the underground sewer. However in a modern house or property both the soil pipes and waste pipes connect to an internal soil stack which carries all waste out to the drain. Soil stacks also have roof vents to enable potentially harmful gases to be released outside as well as preventing a vacuum within the system which would stop the flow of drainage.
Identifying a Leak
As the wastewater that is travelling through a soil pipe isn’t under pressure, leaks can be tricky to find as they don’t tend to create noticeable noises or sprays of water. However if water is draining slowly out of a toilet or there is an unpleasant smell, it can be a tell-tale sign that there is an issue. You may sometimes also find mould in the surrounding area.
Once you’re aware there is a problem, the next step is to carry out an investigation around the soil pipe area and look for a crack or hole in the pipework or a drip or water patches on the ground near the drain pipes – the junctions between soil pipes can sometimes cause leakage if the connections are loose. The fittings usually have a rubber gasket that creates a watertight seal so it’s also possible a seal could be damaged so it is often worth checking those first. If you are inexperienced when it comes to dealing with plumbing leaks, or you are struggling to find the leak area, you may wish to appoint a professional plumber as locating the exact point of soil pipe leaking can be very difficult as it tends to be fairly subtle.
Fixing Leaking Pipes
There are a number of ways to repair drain leaks, however unless you are confident with handling waste plumbing leaks, it is recommended that you leave it to the experts to carry out a soil pipe repair. Failure to do the job properly could create a sizeable mess, and lead to further damage as well as significant expense.
Pipe Repair Tape
Waterproof repair tape can create a very quick, very strong seal which is why it is by far the most popular way to fix a leaking pipe and the most widely recommended solution. Although there are a wide range of tape types available, the optimum choice is manufactured with a self-fusing silicone that can help to create an airtight, watertight seal over cracks and small holes in just a few moments. It is also normally advised that you can increase the strength of this solution by stretching the tape before using it for drain pipe repair, however as with any of the options mentioned in this blog post, you should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance.
If the source of a leak is in a location that is difficult to tackle with repair tape due to space constraints, plastic repair epoxy putties can provide a viable alternative as it can often be easier to apply in places that are tricky to access, while still providing a lasting solution. It is usually recommended that you use a specialist epoxy putty stick rather than a two-part epoxy solution, as with a stick you simply need to break off the amount you need and knead it until it is malleable. Once the putty becomes a single colour, this means that the chemical reaction that is required to harden it has been triggered, so you can then apply it to the leaking area and wait for it to cure.
Water-Activated Resin Bandages
Pipe repair bandage is coated in a water-activated polyurethane resin and can be ready for use in just a matter of seconds. It also cures in a very short time period (normally around ten minutes) which makes bandages ideal for quick repairs. Technically bandages can be used in place of tape or putty for soil drain repair, however it is usually advised that you seal a leak first using either tape or putty and then apply bandages over the top – this isn’t a compulsory step as tape or putty are both durable enough, however some plumbing professionals find that the pipe repair bandages create additional reinforcement.
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to successfully repair drain pipes when problems occur as the result of damage or a blockage, so if the above methods aren’t able to contain a leak you may need to replace an entire pipework section or fitting to resolve any issues.
At EasyMerchant we stock self-fusing pipe repair tape, and if you’re looking to replace a section of your soil piping system as part of a plumbing repair, we also offer one of the most extensive range of soil pipe fittings available on the market. Our unrivalled selection of plumbing pipes and accessories includes mushroom vent cowls, soil pipe reducers, joiners, and soil pipe branches, or even underground pipe fittings – all of our products are exclusively sourced from leading manufacturers and fully kitemarked to British standards which means you can be assured of their high quality.
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