What Causes Copper Pipe to Fail?

Sadly, copper pipes don’t last forever, though they do last quite long, sometimes more than a lifetime. However, usually they’ll get around 25 years, and that’s if the water condition is conducive to the pipes. Changes in the chemistry of water can make it rough on copper pipes, and lead to copper pipe repair. In most cases they will not affect the quality of the water, but will certainly cause the property owner to lose money.

As the most commonly used material for plumbing systems, copper is easy to use and resists corrosion. It also is impermeable to gases and liquids which is an added bonus. For over 50 years, copper piping has been the go to material for domestic water supply, and it can be found in the majority of buildings today.

Anyone who notices warm spots on the floor, ceilings or walls, we carpeting, or very high water bills should consider that copper pipe repair many be needed. They should immediately contact a repair specialist for a consultation to see what their options are between traditional options and the latest methods to include trenchless pipe replacement.

Pinhole Leaks

Pinhole leaks are the result of perforation of copper tubing, fittings or pipe in domestic distribution of water, and the result of corrosion initiated by pitting on the inside or waterside surface of the pipe. Inside pitting and corrosion of copper piping may be rare, but when discovered becomes an expensive problem that quickly results in pinhole leaks. The chemistry of the water itself has been found to cause the pitting.

The pinhole leak is a common copper pipe repair, and so professionals continue to try to detect pitting corrosion before it turns into pinhole leaks. Of course, these leaks could occur in any tube or pipe made of copper within the house. Most leaks are found in older homes and businesses, definitely before 1970.

Copper Corrosion

while there are various types of corrosion, pinhole leaks are caused by pitting corrosion in copper plumbing most of all. The attacks are definitely localized, and non-uniform in characteristic. Various, small areas are typically attacked.

There are three main types of pitting corrosion:

  • Soft Water – This type of pitting is possible in various soft waters of pH below 7.2, it’s narrower than in hard water, but still causes failure in pipes.
  • Hard Water – This pitting is found in hard waters that have a pH of 7 to 7.8, and it is most common in cold water applications. Pits are narrow and deep and cause pipes to fail.
  • Cold and Soft Water with High pH Level – This pitting happens in soft, cold waters with a pH above 8. It’s generalized and has shallow, wide results in blue water, pipe blocking and byproduct releases.

Water Velocity

High rates of water flow can erode the coating of bare copper, and cause copper pipe repairs. It also results in high corrosion once eroded. The biggest effect is when forced water changes the flow direction and damages the whole system.

Repair Choices

Today, property owners have many options of which to choose. Yet, none of them consider the main cause of the issue, but just correct detected symptoms. Options are not cheap for copper pipe repairs, and they include:

  • Fixing the leak by application of external solder
  • Re-plumbing the whole property
  • Replacing the tube in sections
  • Re-plumbing and putting PVC in place of the copper
  • Buying cures, such as magnets
  • Coating with epoxy

In the end, there are many choices when it comes to copper pipe repairs. Home and business owners owe it to themselves to explore them all, and have their property examined by a professional who can make smart recommendations.