The advent of copper as the main material for plumbing pipes was a major upset in the industry in the mid-twentieth century. Prior to the widespread use of copper, plumbing pipes were mainly composed of lead or iron.
Iron, of course, was extremely susceptible to rupturing from rust. Lead, meanwhile, was flat out poisonous. Copper piping, on the other hand, is almost immune to the types of corrosion that plagued its predecessors. The key word there is “almost.” There is one type of corrosion that can still affect copper pipes, and it can cause all sorts of damage to your plumbing and home. Let’s take a look at pitted corrosion, and the pinhole leaks it causes.
The Cause of Pinhole Leaks
Pitted corrosion is a type of corrosion that degrades copper pipes from the outside inward. The corrosion is always focused in a very small area, allowing it to eat through the pipe more quickly. Eventually, it opens up a tiny hole in the pipe. This hole is called a “pinhole leak” because of its small size. Pinhole leaks are only large enough to leak one or two drops at a time, so you might think that they’re not that big of a deal. Unfortunately, they can inflict damage far beyond their small size.
The Dangers of Pinhole Leaks
With most plumbing issues, like pipe blockages or ruptures, there are symptoms that the homeowner can detect. Sudden changes in water pressure, discoloration, and other signs serve to warn the homeowner that something is wrong with the plumbing system. Pinhole leaks are so small, however, that they don’t cause any detectable symptoms. This means that the first warning a homeowner usually gets that a pinhole leak is present is when they come across the damage that leak has already caused.
Most of the plumbing pipes in your home are installed in the walls, surrounded by insulation, sheet rock, and support studs. Over a long enough period of time, even the slow drip of water from a pinhole leak can rot out the area around it. By the time a homeowner notices the damage that the pinhole leak has caused, it’s too late.
The best way to counter pinhole leaks is to have your plumbing inspected by a professional at least once a year. If you haven’t had your home’s plumbing inspected in a while, call Brooks Plumbing. We provide plumbing services throughout Olympia.