Classic Landscape and Horticulture

How to Repair a Broken Water Line or Pipe

When a landscaping pipe breaks, you’ve got a problem that needs prompt attention! Today, Mike from Classic Landscape shows us how to repair a broken water line in under 10 minutes. Take care of the issue quickly – your landscaping and wallet will thank you!


Special thanks to Isaac, my son, for giving us this opportunity to demonstrate how to repair a broken pipe.  The type of repair we’re going to demonstrate today I refer to as a telephone style of repair, because it looks like an old-style telephone receiver when you are done.

The first thing you do is you cut about a foot of pipe – give yourself enough room to make the repair and also to add the fittings on both sides.   The splice we’re making today is about 8 inches, just because I didn’t want to dig a hole any deeper.  Normally this type of break, because it’s so shallow, you’d repair with a traditional straight repair.  But for the sake of demonstration today we’re gonna use the short-cut repair.  This type of repair is good if you have a deep pipe, or if the pipe is too large to get any flex in it.  It also works well on angles if you have an elbow that you need to swap out you can just cut across the corner with this type of repair.

The first thing you wanna do is clean the pipe really well.  I like to use plumber’s cloth on the pipe that’s been in the ground.  Just get off any dirt and grime that’s been embedded on the pipe from sitting in the ground for too long.  I also like to use primer on all of my fittings and all of my pipe ends.  It’s not always necessary – some types of glue don’t require it, but I like to use primer all the time and I prefer to use 7-11 style glue – usually sets up in a couple of hours and you can have it at full strength in maybe 4 hours.  For this style of repair you’re gonna need 4 elbows and you’re gonna need a couple feet of pipe.  We’re repairing 1 inch pipe today.  Make sure you put primer on all your fittings and all your pipe ends.

Normally with this style of this repair you’ll go to the side but for the sake of demonstration today we’ll go straight up.  You’ll wanna glue the whole depth of the socket and you’ll want to glue the pipe to at least the depth of the socket.  As you push the pipe on, give it a quarter turn, and then hold the fitting in place until about the count of ten.  If you don’t do that, the pipe will slip off of the socket and you’ll have a gap.  Make sure that your fittings on each side are parallel to one another.  If you don’t put your first two fittings at the same angle it will be difficult to get them to fit later.  The gap between the old pipes is 8 inches on this repair.  Taking into consideration the inch and a half on each of the fittings, the new gap will be five inches.  So you cut your top piece for 5 inches, and you take about 1/8 inch off to compensate for the two fittings on each size.

The next thing you’re going to do is you’re gonna make your risers.  Those can be any length, but need to be at least double the depth of the sockets.  You’re gonna use two of them, and make sure that they are exactly the same length…and you can just eyeball it.  The right tool for the job is always important.  I like to have a pair of pipe cutters, but you can also use a hacksaw, or even a piece of string or wire to cut through pipe.   The problem with a hacksaw, or string or wire, is that it leaves burrs inside the pipe.  You’ll want to make sure you clean those out with either sandpaper or a straight-edge of some kind.  If you don’t, when you put pressure through the valve again, you’ll end up with the burrs in your sprinkler heads and it will clog the filters.  Again, make sure you prime and glue both your pipe ends and your sockets.  And don’t forget, when you push your pipe in, to give it a quarter turn to make sure the glue is evenly distributed, and don’t forget to hold it on for a count of ten.  Double-check and make sure your pipe is the correct length.  Then get all your fittings and pipe ends glued or primed and glued.  Don’t put anything together yet.

One advantage of this type of repair is that it saves a lot of time.  You don’t have to dig as much.  You don’t have to get the pipe to flex in order to get couplings on.  This type of repair you can do in about 5 minutes.  You can glue the first fitting onto the pipe, but don’t glue any more on until you are ready to assemble the whole thing.  And don’t forget to glue any of the parts – the sockets or the pipe ends.  If you forget one, you’ll have a leak and you’ll have to replace it.  Never be afraid to use too much glue.  No one is ever going to comment on how bad your glue joints look because they’ve got too much glue.  Make sure you hold it on for a little while, until they are seated, and then you’re done.