If you’re a homeowner, then you know that plumbing problems can pop up at any time. A pinhole leak in copper pipe is one of the most common issues, and it can be tricky to fix if you don’t know what you’re doing. Although it is normal for copper pipes to have a lifespan of around 20-30 years, pinhole leaks can occur sooner if the water in your area is highly corrosive or if the pipes were not installed properly. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what causes copper pinhole leaks, how to repair them, and what to do if you have one. We hope this information helps you keep your home’s plumbing system running smoothly!
What’s a copper pinhole leak?
A copper pinhole leak is a small hole or crack in a copper pipe that allows water to leak through. Although the holes in the pipe are small, they can cause serious damage to your home if left unrepaired. Pinhole leaks are most likely to occur in areas of high water pressure, such as near a water heater or in the main line that supplies water to your home.
Leaks of this nature can be tricky to pin down because they’re small and often located in hard-to-reach places. As tricky as they are to identify, they are twice as tricky to locate. So, for this reason, it is important to call a professional if you think you may have a pinhole leak in your copper pipes. We always recommend calling a professional when it comes to plumbing problems.
What causes copper pinhole leaks?
A copper pinhole leak can happen for a number of reasons. The most common reason is corrosion, but there are actually several things that can cause a copper pinhole leak.
Chemical corrosion is probably the most common cause of pinhole leaks in copper pipes. This happens when water contains chemicals that eat away at the copper, causing it to deteriorate and form holes. The most common culprit is chlorine, which is added to public water supplies to kill bacteria. While chlorine is necessary to keep our water supply safe, it can be damaging to copper pipes.
At Western Rooter & Plumbing, we offer water PH testing and evaluation to make sure that the water in your home is not too corrosive. If it is, we can recommend a water filtration system to help protect your pipes.
Galvanic corrosion occurs when two dissimilar metals are in contact with each other in an electrolyte solution (in this case, water). When this happens, an electrical current flows between the two metals, causing one of them to corrode. Galvanic corrosion is often the culprit when pinhole leaks occur in copper pipes that are connected to iron or steel pipes. If you think galvanic corrosion may be causing pinhole leaks in your copper pipes, the best thing to do is call a professional.
It’s common for water to have a small amount of sediment in it, and this is usually not a problem for copper pipes. However, if the sediment buildup is excessive, it can cause pinhole leaks. This is because the sediment can act as an abrasive, wearing away at the pipe and causing it to develop holes over time.
Manufacturing copper pipes for use in plumbing is a complex process, and there’s always the possibility that a mistake could be made. Although it’s not common, pinhole leaks can occur in copper pipes if they were not manufactured properly. If you think your pinhole leak may be due to a manufacturing defect, we recommend calling a plumber to identify the exact location of the leak.
5 Signs of a copper pinhole leak:
Now that you know what a copper pinhole leak is, and what causes pinhole leaks, you’re probably wondering how to tell if you have one. Here are 5 tell-tale signs that you may have a pinhole leak in your copper pipes:
High water bill, but low water usage.
If you notice that your water bill is higher than usual, but you haven’t been using more water, it’s possible that you have a pinhole leak. This is because even a small leak can waste a lot of water over time through passively leaking. Not only is this costing you potentially several dozen dollars extra per month on your water bill, but it is causing water waste. If you notice a sudden increase in your water bill, the best thing to do is call a plumber so they can check for leaks.
Lower than normal water pressure.
If your water pressure is suddenly lower than normal, it’s a good idea to check for pinhole leaks. This is because pinhole leaks can cause water pressure to drop, as water is escaping from the pipes rather than flowing through them. If you notice a decrease in your water pressure, we recommend checking all of your faucets and showerheads to see if they are working properly. If they are, then it’s likely that you have a pinhole leak somewhere in your home.
Phantom dripping sounds.
If you hear dripping coming from within your walls or from your ceiling, it’s possible that you have a pinhole leak. This is because of the passive leaking caused by a pinhole leak.
Water damage in strange locations.
If you’re seeing visible water damage on your ceilings, walls, or floors but can’t figure out where the water is coming from, it’s likely that you have a pinhole leak. This is because pinhole leaks can cause water to seep through cracks in your walls or ceiling, resulting in visible water damage.
Mold/mildew around your pipe areas.
Mold and mildew buildup can be a sign of a pinhole leak. This is because pinhole leaks can cause water to seep through cracks in your walls or ceiling, resulting in mold and mildew growth. If you notice mold or mildew around your pipe areas, it’s best to call a plumber so they can check for leaks.
How to fix a pinhole leak in copper pipes:
There are two schools of thought when it comes to fixing pinhole leaks in copper pipes. The first is to replace the entire section of pipe that is leaking. This is generally the most effective way to fix a pinhole leak, as it ensures that there are no other weak spots in the pipe that could potentially leak in the future. The second school of thought is to try and patch the leak.
One of these solutions is permanent, while the other is temporary. We will explore both solutions below:
If you’re looking for a temporary fix while you wait on a plumber, or if you’re trying to avoid the cost of replacing your entire copper pipe, there are a few things you can do to patch the leak. The most common way to do this is to use epoxy putty. Epoxy putty is a pliable, moldable substance that hardens when it dries. To use it, simply mold it around the leaky area and wait for it to dry. Once it’s dry, it will create a watertight seal that will temporarily fix the leak.
Permanently fixing a copper pinhole leak is a little trickier.
First, you should locate and mark the location of the leak on the copper pipe. If the copper pipe is located behind drywall, you should remove the drywall section, first.
Next, shut off water to your entire home (or at least the section of your home that is served by the copper pipe that is leaking). Once the water is shut off, you will need to cut out the section of pipe that is leaking and replace it with a new piece of pipe. Immediately after this step, we like to stuff cotton rags or towels into the section of copper pipe that was just cut to prevent residual water dripping. The dripping should be minimal, but better to be safe than sorry.
Now, measure the section of pipe that was removed, and cut a replacement section of a new sweat coupling pipe that is approximately 1 inch longer than the section you’ve just removed. It’s important that you smooth the rough edges of both the pipe connected to your plumbing system and the new replacement pipe.
Now, slip the sweat coupling replacement pipe over both ends of the remaining pipe, making sure to leave about half an inch on both sides of the pipe.
When you’re done, solder the ends shut using enough solder wire to completely fill in any gaps in the pipe.
When done, turn your water back on and test the pipe.