Picture this scenario: you’re living in a townhouse with your significant other. It’s an older building but you fell in love with the charm and the old lighting fixtures. It was built in 1978 and there have been three pinhole leaks in the copper pipes (in different locations) in the past three months. All three were on cold water lines. You’ve heard through the grapevine that multiple other tenants have had the same problem within the past year.
What Causes Pinhole Leaks?
No one knows the exact cause of pinhole leaks in every situation. Copper pipes, though primarily comprised of copper particles, is not homogeneous and contains multiple other metallic particles including alloying metals (for strengthening the copper) and unintentional impurities. The presence of water (an electrolyte) in a copper pipe causes electric currents to flow naturally between these dissimilar metal particles which, in turn, leads to corrosion.
Unfortunately, as copper plumbing becomes old, pinhole leaks become increasingly common. The primary cause of this is not the aging of the pipes. Unfortunately, pinhole leaks in copper pipes typically occur in places where they are not observed until there has been significant water damage and mold infection. Plumbers have varying explanations for these leaks, but several causes are widely recognized within the industry.
The three most common causes are:
- Chloramines in municipal water systems
- Particles of corrosion from aging water heaters
- HIgh water pressure inside the pipes
A long-held misconception about copper plumbing is that it is intended to be permanent. When copper water piping became the standard of the industry in the 1960s, it was actually expected to last for 25-40 years. THerefore, failure of copper pipes in the early 21st century should surprise no one.
If you live in a house and you are experiencing problems with pinhole leaks that just aren’t going away it will come as no surprise to you that insurance companies are refusing to pay for any more claims for damaged caused by leaks. The cost to repipe a house can be astronomical so let’s talk about ways to prevent this so you don’t have to worry about it.
If you already have a pinhole leaks you might be able to repair each leak individually instead of re-piping your entire home. You can do this if it’s your first pinhole leak, your copper plumbing is less than 20 years old, your leak is located on a solder joint, and if the pinhole leaks are all located in the same piece of pipe.
After you repair these pesky leaks the way to prevent this from happening in the future is to add a water filtration or softening system. Water filtration and softening reduce hard water deposits, which can cause leaks over time because they act like sandpaper against your pipe’s walls. A plumber can test your water for chlorine levels and total dissolved solids to see if a filtration system could prevent future leaks.
Now that you know what pinhole leaks are and how to prevent them it’s time to find a reputable company in your area that can handle the tasks. Specialized Pipe Technologies are here to solve your pipe problems. Their team of professionals can bring you the latest no-dig pipe restoration technology.