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Pin holes in copper plumbing

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I don't look at any other forums and I don't know who else to ask. My house is 27 years old - I built it myself as Owner builder. I have since done a major reno 8 years ago. We had a pin hole leak in the copper plumbing while we were home. The house is large and it was in a room we weren't in. It had probably been leaking for quite some hours. The ceiling collapsed and made a hell of a mess. We had just come home from 4 weeks overseas, so it could have flooded the whole house if we were away when it happened. We now turn the water off to the house when we are away (usually 14 weeks a year). However, we have since had 2 more leaks in the same section of pipe - no damage as caught it in time.
The plumber said the copper was heavy grade, but he sees this all the time. There seems to be corrosion at the point where the pin hole leak starts. I can replace some of it but there is a lot in the walls and sections of the roof where you just can't get to.
Any ideas?
 
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In Perth it usually corrodes and starts leaking on the hot water pipe, close to the HWS and where it is buried, very seldom happens on the cold pipe. I believe it is electrolysis and acidic ground that causes it.
Anyway I have had to braze in a new section of pipe, but next time it happens, I am going to replace it with PVC like they use in new houses these days.
So getting to your problem, if it is likely to happen again and you intend keeping the house, maybe look at replacing sections in critical areas with either new copper or PVC whichever is easier. You built the house, so you should have an idea which areas are and aren't a problem if they burst. :2twocents
 

IFocus

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I would replace the whole length not worth messing around with, corrosion could come from many sources in my case acid from when they washed the brick work when the house was built.

I messed around replacing sections, finally bit the bullet dug up the back verandah 24 metres and replaced the lot.
 
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I would replace the whole length not worth messing around with, corrosion could come from many sources in my case acid from when they washed the brick work when the house was built.

I messed around replacing sections, finally bit the bullet dug up the back verandah 24 metres and replaced the lot.
I agree with you Ifocus and I'm going to replace all mine underground, but investtrader said his burst in the ceiling, so it may be difficult depending on the house construction (double story, cavity-non cavity walls etc)
 
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If there's no known cause that is isolated to the location of the failure, eg someone hit it with a drill or saw etc, then I'd be assuming more widespread degradation.

If it was a big pipe in industry etc then it would be inspected internally but for a small water pipe in residential use the practical option would be replace it assuming there's access to install a new pipe (with or without removing the old one).

Local water chemistry varies hugely and can do some strange things, corroding pipes being one of them.

As some of the more extreme examples around Australia, the tap water in much of WA wrecks marine grade stainless steel to the point that manufacturers of stainless tanks, fittings etc won't warrant them in WA and in some cases will refuse to supply at all since they don't want their name on failed equipment. And yet odd though it may seem, using materials which are normally far less durable is the workaround since the water in WA doesn't attack those.

Another extreme example is parts of western Tasmania where the water is perfectly safe to drink but dark brown in colour. It's natural tannin leached out of timber etc - a completely natural phenomenon but it causes some concern to those not expecting a glass of water to look like tea.

That your water supply is harsh on pipes doesn't mean it's necessarily harsh on humans. Well, not unless you've got a copper or stainless steel stomach at least.

Also be wary of galvanic corrosion, something that's commonly overlooked but it's a bit of a pet subject of mine since moving to SA and coming across a few "incidents". Dissimilar metals + water = just asking for trouble unless you've checked to ensure compatibility. Doesn't need to be a lot water either - even slightly damp will do it. Eg copper pipe in contact with steel and there's humidity and occasionally some condensation won't end well. :2twocents
 

moXJO

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I don't look at any other forums and I don't know who else to ask. My house is 27 years old - I built it myself as Owner builder. I have since done a major reno 8 years ago. We had a pin hole leak in the copper plumbing while we were home. The house is large and it was in a room we weren't in. It had probably been leaking for quite some hours. The ceiling collapsed and made a hell of a mess. We had just come home from 4 weeks overseas, so it could have flooded the whole house if we were away when it happened. We now turn the water off to the house when we are away (usually 14 weeks a year). However, we have since had 2 more leaks in the same section of pipe - no damage as caught it in time.
The plumber said the copper was heavy grade, but he sees this all the time. There seems to be corrosion at the point where the pin hole leak starts. I can replace some of it but there is a lot in the walls and sections of the roof where you just can't get to.
Any ideas?
Did you see the hole?
Sometimes its a nick on the pipe. Sometimes its the joint and the solder.
Sometimes its a bad length of pipe.
27 years isn't that old. I'd change that length out and visually check what other pipes I could.
 
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A slightly different point of view, if you have copper corrosion,whatever the reason, it means this copper ends up in the water, that you drink.so maybe be sure to filter water for consumption?
Copper is good against fungus, but is a poison for crayfish
 
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A slightly different point of view, if you have copper corrosion,whatever the reason, it means this copper ends up in the water, that you drink.so maybe be sure to filter water for consumption?
Copper is good against fungus, but is a poison for crayfish
We had a ceiling collapse for the same copper pipe reason about ten years ago..we were away at the time.And like you,since then we turn off the mains water and the electric water heater when we go away for a day or longer.Insurance paid the bill $2000 from memory.The copper pipes are still in the ceiling.
 

moXJO

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Thanks all. The pin holes are virtually invisible, but you can see corrosion around them so it is something to do with water chemistry. I'll replace the pipes where I can, but there is a lot in walls where I can't.
I found this https://nuflow.net/residential-repairs/ Might give them a call also.
You can get a water filter at point of entry of the pipes to the house. Just make it easy to access.
You can get a ph pen to test your water and a tds pen for ppm in water for about 20 bucks at the local hydroponics shop. As mentioned above you can get a fair bit of copper in your water.
Visually inspect the pipes for any of the same corrosion. Hopefully you get lucky.
 

moXJO

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I think nuflow is for larger pipes. They reline the inside.

You can try that pex pipe (I'm not a big fan) just don't use ratsak in the roof.
 

moXJO

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And it’s polyethylene not pvc used in water supply
Pex for short.
I had a mate use pex. Used some ratsak a few weeks later. Rats get thirsty after the ratsak. And they all sank their teeth into the soft pex pipe while he was at work the next day.
 
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Just like electrical work it is illegal to do your own plumbing
That is true but I don't think anyone here is suggesting doing it themselves unless they happen to be licenced?

For the issue more generally, my recommendation has always been the same.

If you're leaving the house empty for however long then any electrical, water or gas that doesn't specifically need to be left on should be turned off. That is particularly so for anything that's plugged into a power point - broadly speaking anything that's hard wired is a lower risk but not zero.

I say that simply because in reality rather a lot of "near misses" do happen with electrical things and rather a lot of leaks do occur with plumbing. It's not at all hard to find someone who's had a burst pipe or who caught some electrical device in time before it burst into flames.:2twocents
 
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That is true but I don't think anyone here is suggesting doing it themselves unless they happen to be licenced?

For the issue more generally, my recommendation has always been the same.

If you're leaving the house empty for however long then any electrical, water or gas that doesn't specifically need to be left on should be turned off. That is particularly so for anything that's plugged into a power point - broadly speaking anything that's hard wired is a lower risk but not zero.

I say that simply because in reality rather a lot of "near misses" do happen with electrical things and rather a lot of leaks do occur with plumbing. It's not at all hard to find someone who's had a burst pipe or who caught some electrical device in time before it burst into flames.:2twocents

If you get bored go to Bunnings and watch the pelicans going through the plumbing shelves scratching their heads
After that a trip to the boat ramp with a 6 pack and watch the reversing and near punch ups
Yes im strange
 
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