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How to Spot and Handle Pinhole Leaks in Copper Water Lines

Copper is an extremely popular material for use in plumbing pipes in homes and buildings throughout the world. This is due to its ability to stand up to corrosion as well as its resistance to permeation by gases and liquids. It also has a reputation for durability as it is known to last for decades. As good a material as it is, however, it’s not without its downsides. For homes in the Collierville, Germantown and Memphis areas of Tennessee, pinhole leaks are a common problem.

We’ll discuss pinhole leaks in copper piping as well as their causes and remedies. There are various ways to detect pinhole leaks. Whether you have more than one or two leaks will also affect how you may want to handle the problem. While the term “pinhole” may make it sound minor, the effects of even a small amount of water leakage can lead to major repair bills and headaches for any homeowner. It is, therefore, important to look for and detect any indications of such leaks.

Signs of Pinhole Leaks

  • Warm Spots in Your Floors or Walls – If a copper pipe containing hot water has developed tiny leaks, it may be spraying this water against a floor or wall. This will, naturally, make it warmer to the touch.
  • Wet Spots in Walls, Floors or Carpeting – This is a dead giveaway of some type of water leak. If it’s a relatively small area that’s wet and it seems to be spreading slowly, that’s a good indication that it’s a pinhole leak.
  • Are Your Water Bills Higher Than Usual? – The leaks may be occurring in an area of the house that you don’t spend a lot of time in, so you might not notice the above problems. On the other hand, you’ll definitely notice a sudden spike in your water bill.

What to Do About It

Pinhole leaks start on the inside of the pipe and are a result of pitting corrosion. They typically occur in older homes since they are more likely to have worn piping. This type of corrosion can be due to hard or soft water. These terms have to do with the pH level of the water. This corrosion and pitting will continue until a small leak forms. What to do about it may depend on how old the piping in your home is and how many leaks you’ve encountered.

  • Only One Leak in Many Months – If you’ve spotted signs of a pinhole leak, you should call a plumber to verify that this is the cause of the problem. For situations where it’s the only leak you’ve ever encountered and the home is not terribly old, you’ll probably only need to have that one leak fixed. A Tennessee plumbing professional would probably only have to repair or replace a small section of piping in this situation.
  • Several Leaks Occurring Over a Few Years – This scenario might indicate that the copper piping in your home is showing its age, and you may want to have all of it replaced. This may end up being cheaper than calling a plumber to come out every time another leak occurs with all the attendant water damage repairs on top of this.

Replace Your Piping With Copper or PEX?

Let’s say you’ve decided to have the copper piping in your home replaced. What should you have it replaced with? While copper was pretty much the only kid on the block as far as piping materials a few decades ago, there is another option today. There is a material known as PEX, which stands for cross-linked polyethylene. This new tubing material was only introduced for domestic plumbing pipe usage in the 1990s. Both copper and PEX have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with copper’s advantages.

  • Copper is highly resistant to corrosion.
  • It’s also resistant to bacteria and weather.
  • It has no toxic byproducts in a fire.
  • It can be recycled, so it’s the preferred material for environmentalists.
  • Unlike PEX water lines, copper can be used outdoors. UV rays cause the structure of PEX piping to become brittle and rupture.

Now, let’s take a look at the advantages of PEX for your home’s piping.

  • It requires fewer fittings than copper piping, which makes it faster to install.
  • Unlike copper pipes, which can burst during extreme temperature variations, PEX is flexible enough to handle the contraction and expansion caused by temperature extremes.
  • PEX is cheaper than copper piping, which is a major consideration for anyone on a budget.
  • PEX material is easier to cut than copper.

Don’t Take Chances With Your Home’s Plumbing

If you own a home in Tennessee and need a Memphis plumber to put new piping in your home, you want to make sure the installation job is done right. Our Tennessee plumbing company, River City Plumbing, has the training and experience to handle any job quickly and competently.

Whether you need a Germantown plumber or a Memphis plumber, we serve residents and businesses across a wide area. Few things can do more damage to a home than water. If you notice any signs of pinhole leaks or any other leaks, give us a call at your earliest convenience. One of our master plumbers will correctly assess your Tennessee plumbing issue, and then we’ll give you a competitive estimate to perform the appropriate repair or installation job.

If you need to replace your piping, we can help you decide between copper or PEX. We have experience at using both materials and can go over the pros and cons of each for your specific situation.

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