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What Causes Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes?

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  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Sharon in Illinois is on the line who’s dealing with a lot of leaky copper pipes. Tell us what’s going on.

    SHARON: We have a concrete slab for our home, with copper pipe in it. And we’ve been having some leaks – some bad leaks – and I have paid a plumber a lot of money. And he mentioned that there was a year that there were some defective copper pipes. And I’m trying to find out what year.

    TOM: Are you suffering from pinhole leaks? Is that what he said?

    SHARON: I believe so, yes.

    TOM: Pinhole leaks is a condition in copper plumbing that’s caused by the acidity in the water. And the problem is that there’s not a lot that you can do about it, short of replacing your pipes.

    SHARON: OK.

    TOM: It’s something that develops slowly and the strategies for dealing with this are to either repair the leaks as they develop or to simply plan and budget for a major upgrade of all of the parts of the plumbing that you can actually get to. Because over time, they’re only going to get worse.

    SHARON: Yeah. Well, we fixed the leak on the south end of our house and now, today, we finished the leak on the north end of the house. But I just wondered if there was some – we’ve had two other structures that were built on a concrete slab that have never had one problem.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not the slab; it’s the acidity of the water. If you head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and you search “pinhole leaks in copper pipes,” you will find a detailed article that I put together on this a couple of years back, that will give you all of the different types of pitting that are associated with copper pipes.

    SHARON: Yeah. Oh.

    TOM: But it really has to do with the pH of the water.

    SHARON: In the water.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yep.

    SHARON: Well, I just thought maybe – as the plumber said, he said there was a year that there was defective copper – rolled copper – and we thought, “Well, maybe that was the year this house was built,” you know.

    TOM: I don’t think it’s necessarily a specific year of defective copper; I think it’s just the pH of the water that’s going through those pipes that’s causing it.

    SHARON: Thank you, sir.

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