Oops. Fixing a drill hole in PEX (plastic) plumbing.
Posted by peeterjoot on November 3, 2012
I was putting up a laundry room (really closet) shelf. I had some trouble finding the stud, but thought I had it in the end. Guess what? I didn’t Drilling a pilot hole for the screw, the drill punched through so fast that I was into the space beyond. Guess what else? There was some plastic (PEX) piping behind that and it offered negligible resistance, so before I knew it I wasn’t just punching through air, but the hot water pipe that supplies the washing machine. Damn.
That tiny little hole produced a lot of water very fast. I got the water main shut off fast and got the still producing pinhole sealed temporarily, first with my finger, then with some electrical tape, then was off to Home Depot for a something to patch with. Here my temporary patch job, right as I was preparing for a more permanent fix
With a bucket in hand, I drained the pipe of the remaining water
It doesn’t look like it’s coming out steadily, due to the fast capture of the camera, but it was still producing nicely. Next was cutting the pipe. I used a plain old copper cutter, since I figured it would do a tiny job, and this worked out nicely
I’d tried to cut right at the position of the hole, but ended up missing by about a 1/4 inch, so took off one more little bit
You can actually see that I almost managed to go through the back end of the pipe. It really was like going through air. Through drywall, then bam, water going everywhere! After being advised initially to get a special tape to “fix” this, I opted to get a mechanical coupler instead. I’d measured the pipe before I left and had trouble finding something. It turns out that the 5/8” that I measured is what they call 1/2” pipe, so was able to use a 1/2 coupler
This turns out to be about the easiest thing you could imagine to install, just basically requiring pushing the two ends in firmly
I’ve got a little $2 decoupler, should I need to remove the coupler for any reason (was advised to buy this just in case). Hopefully, I’ll never need it for anything.