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What Causes Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes and How to Prevent Them

Modern copper pipes should be able to be used for 20 years or more. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, thanks to a particularly harmful plumbing problem called hole leakage. Leaks only occur in copper pipes. Under worst conditions, copper pipes may leak holes in as little as two years after installation. 

Leakage through holes in copper pipes is a common problem. When the pH (acid) value of the water begins to weaken the natural anti-corrosion ability of the inner pipe, your copper pipe will have hole leakage. If you use copper piping, you need to know what a pinhole leak is and how to prevent it. 

If you are looking for expert plumber in Sterling Heights Michigan, you can always connect with us for the best services.

What is a Pinhole Leak? 

Pinhole leakage is a perforation of copper pipes, pipes or fittings used for domestic water distribution due to pitting corrosion caused on the inland/water edge surface and resulting in subsequent water leakage. Pin leakage is usually very small and shaped like a hole, hence the name. 

Pinhole leakage itself represents the ultimate case of corrosion problems inside copper pipes. In other words, they also represent the damage caused by long-term corrosion. 

How does Hole Leakage Occur in Copper Pipes? 

Copper pipe joints are made of different types of metals. Hole leakage is caused by pitting corrosion. Pitting corrosion is a form of localized corrosion through which cavities or holes are created in the material.

Pitting corrosion only affects a small part of the copper pipe, and it will eventually wear down the material more and more until it falls back to itself in the form of holes, which in turn becomes pinhole leakage.

Pitting corrosion occurs due to one of the following three reasons: 

  • Chemical or mechanical damage to the protective oxide film covering the copper pipe 
  • Partial damage or incorrect application of the protective coating
  • Irregular components on the metal surface 
  • Non-metallic inclusions

Any of these three challenging conditions can cause your copper pipe pinhole leakage in the following ways: 

Chemical Damage 

This is the most likely cause of copper pipe pinhole leakage. The pH of domestic water has little or no impact on the quality or safety of the water, but it will affect your pipeline. The pH of water can interact with its sulfate content, temperature, bacteria, and/or metal in the pipe to give rise toconditions for pitting to occur. 

With specific conditions, chemical reactions will corrode the protective oxide layer that insulates the metals in the inner pipes from the water flowing through them. When this coating is completely worn out in a small area, this small part of the pipe is extremely vulnerable to corrosion-therefore it will form a hole to leak. 

Mechanical Damage 

The presence of deposits in the water supply or physical contaminants such as heavy metals will wear inside the pipe as it passes through. This can happen if your water is particularly hard or is only treated locally (for example, if it is well water). Over time, abnormally high water pressure will also scrape off the oxide layer on the copper pipe. 

Local Damage 

Poor quality or improper installation of copper pipes is unlikely, but not impossible. This is more likely to happen if your pipeline has been unprofessional modification and/or installation. Damaged copper pipes may not have the proper corrosion resistance, which may cause pinhole leakage and other problems. 

Home uses copper pipes and other types of metal as pipes or connection joints. When two different metals interact, especially in solvents like water, the resulting pressure can wear them away. In the case of copper pipes, this stress will wear down the oxide layer in the pipe and eventually lead to pinhole leakage. 

How to Prevent Copper Pipe Leaks?

With just a little investment and diligence, you can prevent the problem of hole leakage in the copper pipes of your home. Here are ways to make sure that none of them cause you pain: 

Chemical Damage 

The chemical interactions that wear copper pipes are usually caused by the high pH of the water. Investing in a water softener can help prevent the pH value that can damage the copper tubing. If you already have a water softener, make sure it is working properly and adjust it as needed. 

Mechanical Damage 

Water softeners can also remove many contaminants that may scratch copper pipes over time. However, the water softener will not affect the water pressure. If the water pressure seems abnormally high, you may need to take other measures. 

Local Damage

If your pipeline is installed incorrectly or is damaged, we recommend that you replace them as soon as possible.

A professional pipeline inspection by some expert plumber in Sterling Heights Michigancan tell you whether the pipeline needs to be replaced or whether minor repairs are possible.