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Fixing a Leaking Black Poly Pipe

Black polyethylene, or PE, pipe comes in very long rolls and is used in many areas for the water main between the meter and the house and for sprinkler systems. Just like any other type of pipe, poly pipe does not last forever and can develop leaks with time and with the help of tree roots. As roots grow they push against the pipe and eventually break it. Poly pipe also can be damaged by rocks in the soil that may shift and apply pressure to the pipe.

Get Ready to Dig

Repairs in this type of pipe can be difficult if it is installed deep in the ground and the hole is not big enough to allow for plenty of pipe movement. Locating the source of the leak can also be difficult. Sometimes you will be able to locate the problem by digging up the wet area in your yard. However, you may not always get so lucky and the wet spot will be a long way from the actual leak if the water follows a gopher hole or other type of cavity. Either way, expect to do a fair amount of digging.

Call Before You Dig

Be sure to call 8-1-1, the national call center of the “Call Before You Dig” program. The center will notify all utility companies with service lines on your property. The companies will send someone out to mark their lines, which may take up to three days but usually is free-of-charge. You must have your lines marked before digging in your yard, to prevent accidental contact with, or damage to, utility lines, including electrical, gas, water, and cable lines.

How to Fix a Black Poly Pipe

The standard repair for a black PE pipe is to install one or more brass barbed couplings secured with hose clamps. It’s best to use couplings with a nut portion in the center to identify that the fittings are brass, which is required in many areas. If the damaged portion of pipe is large, you will need two fittings and a new section of PE pipe to make a spliced connection. Be sure to follow all local code requirements for the repair.

Learn how to repair a leak in a black polyethylene (PE) pipe—in a water supply line or a sprinkler system—using a barbed fitting and clamps.