What you Should Know About Pinhole Leaks in Copper Piping

Copper piping boasts durability and lightness, often lauded as a hassle-free choice for indoor water distribution. While corrosion-resistant, copper can deteriorate over time, especially in regions with mineral-rich water. Distinctive to copper piping is the potential for “pinhole leaks”, which are tiny corrosion-caused holes that signal potential plumbing problems. Here we will delve into the causes of pinhole leaks, strategies for prevention, and guidance on when replacing copper piping might be warranted.

What you Should Know About Pinhole Leaks in Copper Piping

What Leads to Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes?

Pinhole leaks develop gradually as corrosive agents within the water erode the metal, resulting in leaks. The primary culprit is the composition of the water itself. Hard water, characterized by high levels of dissolved calcium and magnesium, as well as water with low or high pH, can contribute to copper corrosion. The pressure of mineral-laden water can wear out pipe linings, especially at bends and fittings. However, minerals and water speed aren’t the sole triggers. Sand, sediment, or grit present in the water can also accelerate copper pipe deterioration.

Detecting and Addressing Copper Pipe Leaks

Pinhole leaks are slow and can seep moisture discreetly into your home’s insulation and walls. Over time, these leaks enlarge, increasing water flow. Detecting them becomes more apparent and urgent. Due to their initial inconspicuous nature, it’s wise to have a plumber conduct annual checks for pinhole leaks in your copper pipes.

Lifespan of Copper Pipes

Residential copper pipes usually endure 20-50 years, dependent on their type. Certain variations of copper piping are more prone to corrosion. A professional plumber can assess whether thinner pipes, which degrade faster, are installed in your home. If your home dates back to the 1980s or earlier and pinhole leaks have surfaced, systemic issues are likely. As copper ages, its inner lining weakens, heightening susceptibility to pinhole leaks. In such cases, re-plumbing your home might be the most cost-effective resolution.

Addressing or Preventing Pinhole Leaks

For pipes under 20 years old, preventive measures can help. First, reducing water velocity curbs mineral erosion. Secondly, an expert plumbing assessment can determine if pipe size is optimal. Smaller pipes might increase friction, leading to issues. Larger-diameter pipes can mitigate velocity.

Installing a Home Water Softener

In areas with hard water or well water, a whole-home water softener is beneficial. These systems eliminate minerals that could react negatively with copper pipes.

Start with a comprehensive water analysis to assess pH, hardness, alkalinity, and total dissolved solids. The data from these tests will inform any adjustments to your home’s water composition for optimal copper pipe preservation.

Trust the Plumbing Experts

A professional plumber from Reichelt Plumbing can inspect your copper pipes for pinhole leaks and offer guidance if issues arise. Ensure your peace of mind and contact Reichelt Plumbing by calling (219) 322-4906 to schedule an appointment for expert assessment of your piping to check for pinhole leaks.


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