How to Repair a Leaking Buried Pipe

“I have an outdoor leaking water pipe underground. How do I repair it?” -Larry

Assuming that you’ve located the site of the leak, and it’s not a water main but a pipe on the meter side of your house, the DIY option would be to dig a trench around the leak, repair the pipe, refill the hole, and patch the damage to your landscape. While fairly straightforward, it certainly won’t be easy (or clean) work.

If you don’t want to disturb your landscape, can’t find the source of the leak, or if the leak is in an inaccessible spot such as under a driveway, you may want to consider calling for reinforcements. Some plumbing contractors offer “trenchless” underground pipe repair involving resins and patches that can be inserted on the pipe from one end then moved into place.

If you decide to repair the leak yourself, keep these tips in mind:

  • Plan ahead: If this is the main supply line to your house, you’ll have to keep your water turned off while repairs are underway.
  • Building codes: Find out the current building codes regarding underground plumbing and get advice about the type of repair materials that work best and resist corrosion in your soil.
  • Buried utility lines: Call 811 and have the utility companies come out and mark the location of any underground gas lines, electrical wires, and other buried cables before you start digging!
  • Prepare for the worst: The pipe may be deteriorated and have to be replaced entirely. While you may not want to tackle that big a job, the time spent diagnosing the situation will save you time and money in the long run.
  • Digging: Make the trench large enough to access at least a foot of pipe on each side of the leak and a foot underneath it. You need room to work, and you need to be able to inspect the area to find out what may have caused the leak. Work carefully and slowly, making sure you don’t make the problem worse by hitting the pipe with a shovel.
  • Repairing Pipe: Once you’ve uncovered the pipe, measure the outside diameter and determine the type (PVC, copper, steel, etc.). You may even want to take a photo of it with you. Ask your local plumbing supply for help choosing the correct repair fittings. A knowledgeable sales associate can help you walk away with exactly what you need, including instructions.

Careful preparation and the proper tools, can make the difference between a plumbing repair and a plumbing nightmare, but even the best planned jobs can hit snags, so give yourself plenty of time.

Good luck!


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Backed by his 40-year remodeling career, Danny served as the home improvement expert for CBS’s The Early Show and The Weather Channel for more than a decade. His extensive hands-on experience and understanding of the industry make him the go-to source for all things having to do with the home – from advice on simple repairs, to complete remodels, to helping homeowners prepare their homes for extreme weather and seasons.


  1. Great tips! Outdoor plumbing can be very intimidating, but I found taking your time, planning, and consulting with an expert at my local harware store I was easily able to do this project my self, and save $400 that a plumber would have charged me.

  2. Thank you for your advice, at first I was skeptical about fixing a frozen and broken pipe but reading your instructions made it a lot simpler than being intimidated by the job at hand. Thank you and God blessyou.

  3. We have a central boiler system that developed a leak in the underground line. Is there anything that can be put into the line, like a liquid, that would seal the leak? We have repaired it 2 times already with new hose, as directed by the dealer, but it is leaking again. Yhe furnace is about 10 yrs old. We need help soon.

  4. Leak is under the concrete floor in child’s bedroom. Can a hose or “stent” be put into the pipe, to bypass the leak, thus avoiding the need to break up the concrete floor?

  5. The huge pipe underground is under our land and we live in a subdivision paying every year to HOA, no one ever claims to have anything to do with this. Even tearing down our next door neighbor’s ground also. The whole is now like 8 feet deep with water and our backyard is declining also. This is in the Indian Forest subdivision in Willis, Tx. Our fence is gone and also part of our neighbors. We were told we could get into trouble trying to fix this as well. The City, County, and State have no issues on this when I called them. I also had someone from the government take pictures of this on my land. I was told this was HOA responsibility. They decline this and even said they don’t have anything to do with our subdivision anymore, then I received my bill for the year again from them and they get higher as well!

  6. If your leak is under concrete? Cut a 3 foot x 3 foot sqare with concrete saw, ( fan out dust and tape tarpes to keep dust from spreading through house.) get a 3lb sledge hammer and have fun. easy when you find pipe and use a smaller hammer. Fix water pipe, Test, look for anymore leaks. all good order or mix your concrete and pour in. your all good now. NEVER CALL PLUMBER

  7. I have developed a mainline water leak in backyard. Sump pump is keeping up for now but I’m worried. Is there stint or something I can do from inside to emergency repair till spring? On rural water, can shut off at property line.
    Distressed homeowner!!
    Thanks Rick


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