How to Prevent Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

how to prevent pinhole leaks in copper pipesCall me sentimental, but I tend to get sad when things I’ve had around my house for awhile start to break down. For example, my favorite easy chair recently started creaking before it kind of sunk in on itself altogether. I swear, I could have almost shed a tear when we hauled it out to the curb. I know it’s just a thing, and not like an actual part of the family, but it had served me well for a very long time and I hated to see it go—not to mention that it also meant I had to spend money on a new one.

I think most folks feel the same way; they hate for items around their home to get worn out or broken before their time. I know this is almost always the case when it comes to plumbing. If properly cared, for most pipes in your home can last for as long as 50 years. Some pipes, though, need you to keep just a bit of a lookout for trouble. Copper pipes are a great example.

With this in mind, today I want to talk about how to prevent pinhole leaks in copper pipes so that you can save yourself the money—and trouble—involved with saying goodbye to your pipes before their time.

What Are Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes?

I know that pinhole leaks sound like they must be pretty tiny and insignificant, but believe it or not, they can wreak havoc on your entire plumbing system. They can even add big bucks to your utility bills, especially here in Northern California where water efficiency is always a hot topic. That’s why it’s so important to do your best to prevent them in order to keep your plumbing system healthy and efficient, and your water bill down.

They can even add big bucks to your utility bills, especially here in Northern California where water efficiency is always a hot topic.

fixing pinhole leaks in copper pipingBut before we get to how you can do that, you’re probably wondering what pinhole leaks are and what causes them. Essentially, pinhole leaks occur when corrosion that originates on the inside of the pipe makes its way to the outside, causing water to leak. There are a few reasons why your pipes may develop pinhole leaks, with the most common being that your water that is too hard, there is turbulence inside the pipes, or that your pipes are just too darn old.

How to Prevent Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes to Prolong Their Lifespan

With these things in mind, let’s look at some of the best ways to prevent pinhole leaks in copper pipes and keep your pipes healthy and strong for many years:

#1 | Invest in a Water Softener

Hard water with a ph between 7 and 7.8 can indeed cause pitting and scaling inside your pipes over time, which can lead to the development of pinhole leaks. The elevated levels of minerals, like calcium and magnesium, as well as the metals in hard water wears away at the lining of copper piping, which is what causes these leaks.

In order to prevent this from happening, you should consider installing a water softener for your home. Water softeners work to remove excessive minerals from your home’s water so that it doesn’t negatively impact your pipes.

#2 | Check Your Water Velocity

Did you know that the most common cause of pinhole leaks in copper pipes is turbulence in the pipes? Turbulence is created by water, typically hard water,  traveling at an unstable velocity through your pipes. Over time, this can corrode the pipes and cause those notorious leaks.

While getting a water softener will help with this, you also need to address your water velocity by having an experienced plumbing professional come in and check it out. Your water velocity should ideally be 8 fps for cold water, and 5 fps for hot. If it isn’t, your plumbing pro will be able to adjust it to make sure that it is.

#3 | Replace, Don’t Repair

If your pipes are over 20 years old, it’s probably a good idea to have your plumbing replaced. Over time, the lining of copper pipes begins to break down. Instead of spending the money to have your pipes patched and hoping they’ll hold out for another decade, get them replaced. Doing so will allow you to start fresh and prevent leaks from forming in the first place, which in the long run can save you a lot of money. Taking all the necessary precautions for preventing pinhole leaks in your pipes can actually make them last as long as 50 years!

Keep Your Copper Pipes Healthy With the Help of the Plumbing Professionals

I always say that prevention is the key to keeping your plumbing system healthy. This is especially true when it comes to copper pipes. While many homeowners think their pipes are invincible, even copper pipes need a little TLC from time to time.

That’s why I’d recommend calling up your local plumbing pro, like the friendly folks at Bell Brothers, to come and take a look at your pipes, check your water velocity, and talk to you about installing a water softener if you don’t already have one. They’ll be able to help you take the necessary steps to protect your plumbing and prevent pinhole leaks. If you already have a leak or two, they’ll be able to either patch them up if your plumbing is still looking good, or totally replace your pipes with shiny new ones if needed.

I know that many homeowners are probably not as attached to their copper piping in the same way that they’re attached to their favorite easy chair or a special set of dishes. But just because your pipes are out of sight doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. After all, they work hard for you every single day behind the scenes to bring water all throughout your home. Making sure they have the little bit of care and attention they need so they don’t spring a leak is the least you can do for them. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would be happy to help you take the necessary steps to prevent pinhole leaks in your copper pipes. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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