Metal Plumbing Repair With a Beer Can.




I found I had a rusted section of pipe in a hard to reach place. My house is over 50 years old and has a lot of metal plumbing (as opposed to PVC). I couldn't remove the pipe without removing the entire tub, so I sat down, had a beer, and voila!

You won't need many tools, so let's get started.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

The bare essentials are the following:
1. Aluminum can.
2. Something to cut thin aluminum.
3. Metal vent hose clamps.
4. Flat head screwdriver

I recommend:
1. Some sort of bathroom (silicone
etc.) caulk.

You can buy aluminum that comes rolled up with adhesive on one side, but:

1. I didn't need that much.
2. The adhesive might come unglued when wet.
3. The aluminum is much thicker, usually for auto body work or small plane repair.

Step 2: Prepare Aluminum

The very first thing to do is:

Drink the contents of your can! (This might be the first project where you drink BEFORE you start.)

Once the can is empty and clean, proceed to cut the top and bottom off. Then, cut the can down the middle.

My multi-tool was perfect: the blade handled the big cuts and the scissors handle the split very easily.

Step 3: Size the Aluminum Around the Broken Pipe

Wrap the aluminum and trim excess if necessary. I had to cut off a 1/4" on one side to get it to fit.

Step 4: Apply Caulk to Aluminum

I applied silicone caulk on the aluminum that would be on the sides of my ruptured pipe. It serves two purposes:

1. It helps hold the sheet in place while fastening.
2. Once dry, it will help keep water from leaking out the sides of the aluminum.

Step 5: Fasten Aluminum to the Pipe

Now apply the metal hose rings to each end and clamp them down tight. You're all set!

Go ahead, have another!



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    17 Discussions


    2 years ago

    After a mystery drip had us confounded, we discovered a tiny hole on the bottom side of our drain pipe. I went to Ho-Po and got the 2 hose clamps ($1.27 each) and stopped at the grocery store for an iced tea with which to make the patch (.99). I had caulk already. I put the patch in and it works great! I figure this post saved us at least $1,000 in professional plumbing assistance, possibly more because I have no idea how they would fix it without ripping apart my cabinet. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Thanks, this really made my day! Eight years later, I'm glad this is still able to make a small part of the internet a little better.

    ...of course, if I saved you money, I'll always accept a six-pack...for future repair materials, of course. ;)


    3 years ago

    I tried this on a seriously rusted kitchen drain pipe and it worked perfectly. I used an Arizona Tea can because it is longer (I suppose a tall boy would have worked), followed these instructions and voila! Great idea!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Clever use of on-hand materials.

    But did you remove the plastic coating from the inside of the can first? It may not matter, but if you didn't, the caulk is bonded to the plastic, not the metal, and the plastic may seperate from the metal over time.

    As long as it doesn't show up here in a few years, you'll probably be ok.

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    There was no plastic on the inside of this beer can. Straight aluminum. I scratched it just to make sure and I almost ripped through the can.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    All cans have an interior plastic liner. It prevents funky chemistry from happening. It is also another reason why you shouldn't make it a habit of cooking directly out of a can. In this case, I very seriously doubt it'll make a difference.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I don't believe ALL cans have linings or coatings. Most beer cans in America do not, I think Coors does tho, and we have canned dog food (high end, 2 dollar a can) that doesn't appear to be lined.
    Sometimes the only taste you get in crappy American canned beer is the can itself.

    I like your expedient repair. In the Navy, this type of patch is referred to as a 'band patch' and has the unique ability to be applied while the pipe is in use. They are lined with rubber for an excellent seal - even on high pressure pipes. For example, if the pipe that is leaking is the high pressure water main being used by firefighters in another part of the ship, you can't very well ask them to take a break while you fix the pipe. The way to apply this type of patch when water is spewing out of a hole or crack is to choose a section of pipe next to the damage, wrap the patch around the pipe, get the clamps taut, slide the patch to cover the leak, and tighten it down. Ta-da.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    In the future wander up to your local auto parts store and pick up a squeeze bottle of RTV blue. It's amazing how aggressive the stuff is.

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    High temperature RTV is orange colored. It seems heavier duty to me than the black or the blue. It is also smoother and spreads nicer too. I have used it to seal an exhaust header, it really can take some heat! Though researching it some on the internet it seems to be called red. Looks orange to me when I use it.

    This is the stuff I always buy:

    Though I just get it wherever.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    "The finished product." <<<lol is that galvanized or cast iron or what? I wouldn't recommend caulk. 2-part epoxy would be way better, nvmd, thats %100 silicone, it should be okay. but did you sand the pipe smooth? I work as a plumbers assistant, and a professional repair would have cost you over $500. good job fixing it yourself.

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I think it is cast iron. I imagine if it was galvanized, it wouldn't have rusted? I agree with your epoxy, but I didn't have any on hand. No, I didn't sand it smooth, I barely had enough room to get my hand in there.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    there are some old galvanized drain lines out there. Galvanized pipe actually rusts faster than cast iron or copper. Galvy water lines are always clogged with rust. If there were any "flakes" visible and you didn't sand it, it will leak again.