Most of the plumbing pipes found in modern homes are made from copper. Copper is the material of choice for plumbing systems because this metal is capable of resisting most types of corrosion.
One type of corrosion that could pose a threat to the integrity of your copper plumbing system is pitted corrosion. This type of corrosion can cause pinhole leaks, which have the potential to wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home.
The more you know about pinhole leaks, the better prepared you are to combat these leaks in the future.
What Is a Pinhole Leak?
Pinhole leaks are created when copper pipes begin to corrode from the outside in. Just as their name suggests, pinhole leaks are incredibly small. In fact, only the occasional droplet of water will escape a pipe through a pinhole leak.
You shouldn't be fooled by the minuscule size of a pinhole leak. These leaks can cause big problems over time.
The slow drip of water coming from a pinhole leak can act as a source of moisture for certain strains of mold. Mold growth damages construction materials and can release spores that contribute to respiratory illness.
The faster you are able to repair pinhole leaks that appear in your plumbing system, the less damage your home will sustain.
What Are the Signs of a Pinhole Leak?
You must learn to spot the signs of a pinhole leak if you hope to nip this type of plumbing damage in the bud before it can cause serious damage.
One of the more visible signs that accompany a pinhole leak is the appearance of a soft spot on the wall or ceiling. The soft spot will continue to grow in size as more moisture escapes your pipes through a pinhole leak.
You may also begin to feel a change in temperature near a pinhole leak. Depending on whether the leaking pipe is a hot or cold water conduit, you could feel a slight increase or decrease in the ambient temperature near a pinhole leak.
This temperature difference can be a valuable detection tool since it's not always easy to spot a pinhole leak by simply examining a pipe.
Other signs of a potential pinhole leak include an increase in your water bill or a loss of water pressure.
How Are Pinhole Leaks Repaired?
Once you and your plumber have verified that a pinhole leak does exist in your copper pipes, the leak will need to be repaired. There are a few different methods your plumber might use to complete the repair process.
If the damage is minimal, a specialized epoxy can be applied over the damaged area to seal off the pinhole leak. Some plumbers also utilize a soldering metal to help seal off pinhole leaks.
In the event that your copper plumbing pipe is affected by multiple pinhole leaks or the pinhole leak has expanded into a larger leak, the repair process will be more involved. Your plumber will need to remove the damaged section of pipe and replace it with a fresh piece of copper pipe.
This replacement process requires the installation of soldered joints to ensure the new pipe section remains watertight. It's more cost-effective to bring in a plumber while pinhole leaks are minor.
The integrity of your home's plumbing system can impact the structural integrity of the property as a whole. Pinhole leaks may seem like a small problem, but they can have a major impact on the function of your plumbing system.
You can avoid the inconvenience of pinhole leak damage and reduce the cost of repairs by contacting a plumbing contractor as soon as you spot the signs of a pinhole leak in your home.