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  1. #1
    Tim Wertz's Avatar
    Tim Wertz Guest

    Thumbs down Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Ok I have inspected plenty of homes in three years as a home inspector and keep busy with home inspections. I have run into two home in my area in the last month which are having pin hole leaks in the copper water piping over and over again.

    One home is on a well and the other is on city water. Does anyone know the cause or have an idea of the cause of these pin hole leaks. I would like to give my clients a direction to go in the purchase of these homes. The constant leaks make me think the hole copper pipe systems may need to be replaced with pex or some other plastic pipe.

    I have done research on line and there does not seem to be many answers. Some research I read is do to low PH other is just bad workmanship in the install.

    Can anyone help me with this issue.

    Thank you all in advance!

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  2. #2
    Jon mackay's Avatar
    Jon mackay Guest

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Are the leaks at the connections? Any pictures?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Knoxville, TN

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    The anode rod in the water heater may be shot causing electrolysis that can cause pin hole leaks.

  4. #4
    David Bell's Avatar
    David Bell Guest

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Also check copper type. Is it type L or M? Some shady contractors will try to skimp and use type M.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Lanham, MD

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Don't know what area you are located. But because this has been a problem in our area, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has conducted extensive research on this topic. A wealth of information can be obtained from their website.
    Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Orlando, FL

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Pin hole leaks in copper piping are a common and predictable problem here in Florida. Several University studies have linked the problem to chemicals or minerals in the water, along with Florida's high lightning strikes.

    Read more here...

    ...and here

    and here...

    The resolution is simple--repipe the house. They have that process down to a T, so to speak. Old copper lines are decommissioned, and new PEX/CPVC/Etc installed in place.

    Bottom line is that in some areas, copper is a poor choice for water distribution piping. Consult with a plumber (or two) in your area for historical data. Chances are good that copper is no longer used in your area, if pin hole leaks are a major concern.


  7. #7
    Tim Wertz's Avatar
    Tim Wertz Guest

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    I only have pictures of the repairs made on the system. The pine hole are in long runs of copper piping and dont seem to be at the connections. The water pressure is about 60 to 70 psi. These homes are in Sonora CA and we dont get a lot of lightning. The water lines around the well head change into PVC and are distributed to the home from there.

    The other home is on public water and there is a connection in the front of the house which is corroded badly. I thought this may be the issue with that home but after research I have done, I found that that is probably not the problem.

    I will look into these sites and any other information would be very much appreciated.
    Thanks Tim

  8. #8
    DANIEL SNYDER's Avatar

    Post Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    I have recently come across pinholes leaks in my research for work and a friend, on well water. The Maryland Dept. of Housing conducted a study that was finished in Dec. 2004.

    There are several possible causes and any could be the reason for the corrosion. Higher than normal levels of chlorine and aluminum in the water have the most detrimental effect on the piping. Acid-based flux inside the pipe can also lead to pinholes. As much as I like to bash China, materials have not been the determining factor. Once the corrosion starts it can accelerate and spread. Bonding usually isn't the problem, as most inspections reveal that the bonding is per NEC where pinholes are present. There is a potential for ground leakage from appliances connected to copper pipe. Recirculator pumps can lead to corrosion, but because they keep the problem water moving through the pipes. Stagnant water sitting in pipes can also cause corrosion, depending on the levels of minerals in the water. Larger homes with fewer occupants seem to have a higher than normal occurrence of corrosion. As do homes or condos that have been vacant for an extended period of time. Some research has shown that if the system is thoroughly flushed after completion, a mineral layer will begin to form on the interior wall of the pipe and protect it from any impurities in the water.

  9. #9
    Ken Bates's Avatar
    Ken Bates Guest

    Default Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    I read something about this about 7 years ago. Forgot specifics. Was called Zincing out.

    The author said that the primary cause was the leaching out of Zinc.

    Said there was a period (70's?) that some bad copper came from Brazil.

    Interesting that I still see functional Brass in old structures. I see lots of Brass (essentially copper with some Zinc) that is still in use in 80 to 100 year old structures. The only concerns are some whitish corrosion at the threaded joints. I have a few inches and a few brass joints in my 1917 house and they are fine. I have a 30 year old copper T joint that is very corroded (blue) (Copper sulfate CuSo4?) and sealed itself with dissolved minerals. It was leaking a few years ago but I just hung a 1 liter container below it whilst monitoring. Still got my eye on it.

    So, here's a question to ponder. Why are just some mid-pipe (not the joint) sections corroding and others not???? One would think that water conditions would be global and affect all lengths in a structure.

    Would Anaconda or other interested parties sponsor research that points the guilty finger toward everthing but the element/smelter/source contamination?

    Plastic is just starting to make inroads in my state (Mass.)

  10. #10
    DANIEL SNYDER's Avatar

    Post Re: Pin hole leaks in copper piping?

    Dezincafication is the problem with the recalled PEX fittings. Brass with over 10% zinc can have this zinc loss with certain water conditions.
    An article I wrote on Factoidz goes into more detail.
    Problems with PEX fittings: The Class Action Lawsuits

    In some cases changing from copper pipe to PEX/brass fittings may make sense as long as the water conditions do not cause dezincafication in the brass fittings. This would be very costly, so perhaps lining the existing copper piping with epoxy would be less destructive. Everytime we try to correct one problem, another one pops up.


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