All water leaks demand the immediate attention of a homeowner, and stopping the flow of water is an immediate concern. That's why you should be prepared by keeping a few emergency repair materials handy. Below are a few items that can be easily stored in a small space, out of the way, until needed. Here is what you need to perform emergency leak repairs that are secure and will keep your water supply active until a plumber can address the problem with a permanent solution. Whatever material you use, remember to turn off the water supply before attempting a repair, and wipe the pipe to remove any water or dirt.

Hose clamp and gasket material

Hose clamps consist of a metallic band, usually stainless or galvanised steel, that is tightened or loosened with a screw. Hose clamps are easy-to-find at home improvement and hardware stores, and an assortment of sizes can be purchased inexpensively. Gasket material is sold by automotive parts stores, and it is designed for use in making custom-fit gaskets for small vehicle applications. However, it also makes an excellent material for use in home plumbing repairs, and it should also be a part of your emergency kit.

Here is how to stop a leak with hose clamps and gasket material:

1. Cut a piece of gasket material so that it is about an inch larger on all sides than the leak itself.

2. Wipe the area surrounding the leak with a clean rag to remove water, grease or other contaminants that might hinder the formation of a good seal with the gasket material.

3. Position the piece of gasket material on top of the leak, and hold it in place.

4. Place two hose clamps around the pipe, and position them so they divide the gasket material into thirds. Tighten the hose clamps with a screwdriver; you want to achieve a firm, non-slipping grip on the gasket material.

5. Restore the water supply, and carefully examine the repair for continued leaking. If necessary, add another hose clamp to reinforce the repair.

Water-activated fibreglass tape

Another item to have in an emergency kit is water-activated fibreglass tape. This special tape consists of fibres impregnated with fibreglass resin. The tape will remain inactive until it is mixed with water. At that point, the tape can be shaped or wrapped, and it will harden within half an hour.

To repair a leak with water-activated fibreglass tape, simply:

1. Activate the fibreglass tape according to the manufacturer's directions. This step usually involves immersion in water or pouring water on top of the tape.

2. Begin by tightly wrapping the tape around the leaking pipe or joint. Don't pull too hard, but keep the tape taut as you wrap.

3. Continue wrapping the area over the leak and make several overlapping wraps around each side of the leak.

4. After finishing, allow the fibreglass to cure for at least two hours before restoring the water supply. Check for leaks at the site, and apply additional tape if necessary.

Epoxy putty

Ordinary epoxy consists of two liquids that must be mixed together to form a self-curing adhesive and filler material. Epoxy putty is similar, but it uses two pliable, clay-like materials that are kneaded together to create the necessary curing reaction. Once mixed, epoxy putty can be worked for several minutes before it begins to harden. After curing, epoxy putty forms a rock-solid mass that is strong, yet flexible.

With its flexibility, epoxy putty is excellent for use in emergency plumbing repairs and should also be placed in your repair kit. Here is how to use it:

1. Dry and clean the area where the epoxy putty is to be used; apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the site to remove traces of oil or other residues that might prevent good adherence. Allow the alcohol to evaporate.

2. Cut off a small amount of epoxy putty and knead the separately-colored pieces together with your fingers. Continue kneading until the colors are well-blended.

3. Push the mixed epoxy putty into the leak and form a small boundary of putty around the leak. Be sure the putty grips the pipe or joint tightly so it will completely seal the leak and won't come loose when water pressure is present.

4. Allow the putty to harden for the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, and then turn on the water supply. Inspect the repair for leaks or drips.

For more information, visit a specialist's website, such as http://www.centralplumbingspec.com.

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