Nail Through Pipe Problems & Procedures Includes Screws
How many times do fellow emergency plumbers listen to those saying I’ve put a screw or a nail through pipe. For an emergency plumber it seems to be like a fashionable thing to do, but for us occupants and our DIY situations, it’s the worst thing we can do, causing plenty of more damage on the way.
Martin Smith, an experience 24 hour plumber gets all types of calls and one of the most common water leaks with water coming through the ceiling is due to a screw or a nail that has gone through the pipe.
To the right of you in the picture is a typical nail, that has gone through a copper pipe. The picture at the bottom is corrosion from a copper pipe, due to a nail that has been left for a long time, eventually turning out to be an emergency plumbing issue.
10 Common Questions by Occupants placing a nail through pipe
- How do I avoid putting a nail through a pipe?
- How do I know if I’m putting a nail through a copper pipe?
- I’ve put a nail through my water pipe, what should I do?
- What sought of damage should I expect as I’ve put a nail through my pipe?
- Is it best to leave a pipe with the nail in it if I’ve gone through it until it is fixed?
- Is there any temporary way of stoping a leak if I put a nail through my pipe?
- What is the correct way to fix a pipe that has had a nail through it?
- If I put a nail through my pipe, do I need to drain down the central heating system?
- Am I covered by the insurance company if I put a nail through my pipe?
- Should I put the floor boards back have the pipe has been fixed due to a nail going through it?
How do I avoid putting a nail through a pipe
Martin Smith an experience emergency plumber explains “It doesn’t matter how many times you explain to someone about there water pipes under the floorboards, 50% of people will still put a nail through there water pipe. If putting one nail through the water pipe isn’t bad enough, 1 in 3 people would stick about 2 nails in the pipe or more. You tell them where the pipe is and they go and put a nail through it. It’s like placing a nail over the pipe, telling the occupant that if the knock the nail here, you will go through a copper pipe, so they go and knock the nail through the pipe“. Martin has also been called out to a plumbing emergency where the customer had put a nail or 2 in the pipe. Fixed the leak and to be on his way home, the phone rings from the previous customer, half an hour later, to be told that she/he has but another nail through the pipe. A couple of times, Martin has had to return to the customer 3 times. However the third time Martin took it upon himself to screw the floor boards down himself and tell the customer to not do any more DIY.
To avoid putting a nail through a water pipe, it is very important, not to place the nail close to the middle and keep it between 10 to 20mm from the edge of the floor boards. If you still manage to place a nail in the pipe, then the cutting of the joists has been incorrectly cut, leaving you nowhere to place your screws or nails. Another way of avoiding to put a screw or a nail in your pipes would be to use a pipe detector, however, this is not a good way if you have plastic pipes. If in doubt, take the floor board up and use a tape measure, to measure the distance of the water pipes.
How do I know if I’m putting a nail through a copper pipe
To acknowledge if your putting a nail through the pipe, you have to listen out carefully, once the nail hits a hard area, then this is most likely going to be a nail. Most people would hit a hard area and annoyingly hit the nail even harder, to force it’s way through. The only other way to know whether or not your going through a copper pipe with a screw or a nail, is the costly way, where you have water coming through your ceiling or a damp patch appearing where the nail enters the floor board. Other than this, it can take a few months for a water stain to appear.
I’ve put a nail through my water pipe, what should I do
If you put a screw or a nail through your water pipe, then the best thing to do is call an emergency, however, if you feel you can do the work yourself and a bit of DIY emergency plumbing, then the first thing you will need to do is to turn the mains water stopcock off. You can either turn the mains water stopcock off in the house or turn the external stop valve off. Depending on which pipe is leaking, you may be able to turn the gate valve off or isolate it in any way. Another little trick can be, tying up the float operating valve, so that when the water drains out of the cold or hot water storage tank or the central heating tank, there is no way of filling the tanks up. Failure to do either of the above, then you will have no choice but to call an emergency plumber. If your able to turn the water off, the next stage would be to drain down the cold & hot water and drain down the central heating system.
What sought of damage should I expect as I’ve put a nail through my pipe
Depending on how long the water leak has been for, if the leaking water is immediate and the water is stopped quite promptly, if your very lucky, then there will be no damage, however, most water leaks of this sought of water stains need to be painted, due to the water stain left by the water passing through the ceiling. Some nails work themselves loose over time, causing the surrounding pipe to corrode, ceiling to weaken and a damp patches appearing, some with a sudden gush of water causing major water damage. An extremely slow leak over a long period of time, can cause the floor joists to rot, which is not very common, however, it has been known to happen in the past. When putting a nail through the pipe, always expect the worse and hope for the best.
Is it best to leave a pipe with the nail in it, if I’ve gone through the pipe until it is fixed
If you have put a nail through the water pipe and your in need of an emergency plumber, always leave the nail in the pipe, as this will be used to plug the hole, until help is at your doorstep.
Is there any temporary way of stoping a leak if I put a nail through my pipe
Yes, there are temporary ways of stopping a leak, as long as you’ve not gone completely through the water pipe, however, you do require a screw and PTFE. It has been known that some plumbers when doing a temporary nail through pipe job, they have place a small screw with PTFE directly into the pipe, until the water stops from leaking. Once the screw has been completely fitted, then by applying a putty that goes rock hard, can solve the issue for may years and most likely permanently stopping the water leak, however this is not the correct way, as it has it’s minor disadvantages, but other than that, it saves plenty of money from completely draining down the central heating system.
What is the correct way to fix a pipe that has had a nail through it
The correct way to fix a water pipe, that has had a nail through pipe, is to completely drain the central heating system, cut out the hole in the pipe and either fit a new piece of pipe or just join up the pipes together. Some times by putting in a big coupler, this may stop the floorboards from being put back down, always try to avoid this disaster and to use the smallest join possible such as an end feed fitting.
If I put a nail through my pipe, do I need to drain down the central heating system
Unless the emergency plumber is very quick and knows what he/she is doing, in some cases, the water can be cut live and a couple fitting placed in, but this is only left to those who are very well skilled and prepared to take a chance. It doesn’t matter how good you are, by doing a quick job can become very disastrous. The correct way and what should be the only way, is to completely drain down the central heating system depending where the nail is, then fixing the water leak. Once the central heating system has been drained down, it is very important to open up the radiators on the highest floor until drained, once the top floor has been drained, then to open the radiator air vents below the top floor and so on. The only radiator that may not need completely draining down, are the radiators that are on the ground floor, as long as the pipe work goes from the lowest point to the above floor when joining the central heating circuit.
Am I covered by the insurance company if I put a nail through my pipe
It wouldn’t be correct to say that you are covered on your insurance, as there are so many without insurance. As long as you have cover for accidental damage and insurance for the damage it causes, then you will covered for the repair, however, some insurance companies require you to call them first if your in an emergency to stop the damage due to a nail through pipe.
Should I put the floor boards back once the water pipe has been repaired due to a nail going through it
Once the repair has been done due to a nail through pipe, it is important to assess what water damage there is and how damp the situation is. Before putting any floor boards back, it is very important to make sure the the area is fully dry, so that rot doesn’t set in and a smell occurring. You may need a dehumidifier to dry out the damp air and damp areas to speed the process of making sure the floor boards are good for putting back.