Uh-oh. You’ve heard about those tiny, destructive openings in copper pipes called pinhole leaks, and now you’d like to know what they’re all about.
It’s good that you’re curious, because pinhole leaks can cause your home’s entire plumbing system to fail—not to mention cost you a small fortune on your utility bills.
You’ve come to right place to learn more. In this article, we’ll answer these 3 questions:
Let’s look at each of these questions in more detail:
Pinhole leaks occur when corrosion inside copper pipes finally breaks through to the outside of the pipe.
Many homeowners ask us, “I thought copper was one of the most durable materials for pipes, how is it they can leak?”
It’s true: copper pipes are frequently used and preferred by plumbers because they’re generally resistant to corrosion and plumbers can easily shape them.
If that’s the case, how can copper pipes leak?
The #1 reason why copper pipes leak is due to turbulence. Turbulence enters your system in 2 ways:
Another reason why your copper pipes have leaks is what’s called pitted corrosion, an extremely localized type of corrosion that attacks small areas on the inside surface of copper pipes.
Well, there hasn’t been a conclusive study on what causes pitted corrosion, here are some possible theories:
Pitted corrosion is hard to detect without the help of a professional, but if it’s caused pinhole leaks, you’ll be able to tell with these signs...
If you notice any of the following signs, you may have pinhole leaks…
Those are signs that point to already severe pinhole leaks. A plumber can inspect your piping to confirm you have pinhole leaks. However, because early signs of pinhole leaks are difficult to detect by the naked eye, the best way to check your copper pipes is by having annual plumbing maintenance by a certified plumber.
Let’s say your plumber tells you that your copper pipes have pinhole leaks. What are your options?
Your options basically boil down to repairing the individual leaks or repiping your whole home. We’ll go into what option you should choose:
You should normally repair a single pinhole leak (instead of completely repiping your home) when…
If you do have to repair individual pinhole leaks, we recommend adding a water filtration or softening system to prevent future pinhole leaks. 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.
You’ll have to repipe your home when…
If you have to repipe your home for any (or all) of the above reasons, we recommend replacing copper pipes with PEX piping. PEX pipes resist corrosion, plus they’re cheaper and easier to install than copper pipes.
Contact George Brazil Plumbing to schedule an appointment with one of our certified plumbers. We’ll check your pipes for any pinhole leaks, and we’ll figure out the best option to fix your home’s plumbing system if there are any issues.
We’ve been serving Arizona families since 1955.