The average life expectancy of a copper plumbing system is up to a century. That’s long enough that you probably won’t ever have to worry about replacing your home’s plumbing.
However, the longevity of copper pipes does not mean that they are invincible. There are still a few unique and serious problems that can affect copper plumbing systems, and you should be aware of how they work. Let’s take a look at one of the most serious problems that can afflict copper pipes: pinhole leaks.
What Causes Pinhole Leaks?
Pinhole leaks are the result of a special kind of corrosion known as “pitted corrosion.” Pitted corrosion is odd in a few different ways. For one thing, it almost exclusively affects copper pipes in plumbing systems. For another, it is always focused on a very small area of the pipe, and progresses from the outside inward. This allows the corrosion to eat through the pipe faster. Finally, despite years of research studies, no one has yet been able to determine why pitted corrosion occurs so often in copper pipes. When the corrosion finally does open a hole in the pipe, it is often very small. This is why these leaks are called “pinhole” leaks.
The Dangers of Pinhole Leaks
So, why are pinhole leaks so dangerous? The main reason is because they are extremely difficult to detect. Pinhole leaks are so small that they don’t cause any of the usual symptoms that warns homeowners of a plumbing problem. There’s no loss in water pressure, or discoloration from rust in the water. Instead, the pinhole leak just releases one or two drops at a time, too little to be noticed.
The problem with being so difficult to notice is that pinhole leaks have time to deal a lot of water damage to the surrounding area. Most plumbing pipes are located in the walls, surrounded by studs and insulation. If the pinhole leak goes unnoticed for a long enough period of time, it can rot away the insulation and even weaken the studs. By the time you notice the damage to the wall, there’s not much to be done but replace the whole section.
The best way to stop pinhole leaks from causing so much damage is to have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing at least once a year. If you haven’t had your home’s plumbing examined in a while, call Design Comfort. We provide plumbing services throughout West Valley.