Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Copper water pipes developing pinhole leaks

with 4 comments

This is very bad news indeed if you own your own home and have copper water pipes—which are in general excellent. Turns out, though, that copper pipes have a fatal flaw:

There has been chatter on my neighborhood-association listserv over the past eight years about pinhole leaks in copper household-water pipes. Several families have experienced them; others recounted horror stories about costly leaks that had suddenly plagued coworkers. What everyone has been asking is who’s at risk — and why?

As someone who’s been replacing old and rust-clogged galvanized basement pipes with copper over the past decade, these posts have riveted my attention. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech now offers some insights into the problem. And they aren’t reassuring.

His research finds that the problem can sometimes trace to good intentions on the part of water companies. Others to infected pipes. Yes, we’re talking germs here.

As for who’s at risk, it’s anyone with copper piping. And the dismal news: Alleviating vulnerability is not something homeowners can likely undertake. Moreover, once a few leaks develop in some section of pipe, it becomes reasonable to expect they’re in the process of developing elsewhere. If they riddle pipes buried in a wall, replacing them might require tearing out scads of sheetrock. And if prophylactic repairs aren’t undertaken promptly, global leaks might emerge, damaging walls all over and spurring the growth of disease-fostering mold.

A study published earlier this year by a Virginia Tech team led by Ewa Kleczyk found that in Maryland household experiencing these leaks, costs to fix the problem ranged from roughly $1,300 to more than $18,000. Another Virginia Tech analysis headed by Eric Sarver, which was published at the same time, estimates that nationally the costs of preventing and coping with pinhole leaks conservatively runs some $928 million a year. Owners of single-family homes bear the brunt of the costs. Approximately half of their costs go for plumbing repairs, another third for labor charges, and the rest to cover property damaged by leaks. …

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 October 2008 at 8:39 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

4 Responses

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  1. I’ve been replacing my galvanized steel plumbing with copper as it becomes clogged. I’ve read a fair bit on and off regarding the mystery of the development of pin hole leaks in copper plumbing and it’s all been rather disheartening. Still, copper seems to be the best available material, though PEX looks intriguing.


    31 October 2008 at 8:36 am

  2. Have lived in present home which was a new build for fifteen years. Had first water leak in copper three yr. ago fixed this and two more that we in the basement. As of 3/26/2009 have had three copper pin hole leaks repaired that were on inside walls on the second and third level. Mold was found inside the wall on 3rd level. Kitchen ceiling damage, hallway damage just a mess. Looking at having the whole house re-piped or altertnative fix. We have well water so it is not only a problem with chemically treated water. Husband diagnosed with malignant brain tumor on Aug.25, 2009 trying to handle on my own all new to me any suggestions will be appreciated.

    Deborah Detty

    26 March 2009 at 6:15 pm

  3. Hey guys! I have an idea. Since we all survived the drinking water BEFORE the EPA forced utilities to remove the NOM’s (Natural Organic Material), why not SUE them (knowing they won’t do it if we politely ask or demand) to revert to the old water chemistry UNTIL they can come up with a solution that does NOT CAUSE BILLIONS…..BILLIONS…..OF DOLLARS IN COPPER PIPE DAMAGE????

    How on Earth can these pinhole pinheads continue to sit around pontificating about “….pure…” and “….toxic….” when some studies indicate that NEW copper water piping can be DESTROYED by pin-holes in as little as a few months???? THIS IS INSANE!


    25 October 2009 at 9:17 pm

  4. Copper pipe leaks can be a problem when your municipality has a more than usual amount of minerals in it. A contributing factor to the problem is where your home is located in relation to the city water line. The most common spot to get a pin hole leak is near the water main because the water pressure is the highest at this point. Check out my blog on copper pipe leaks at


    22 February 2010 at 3:29 pm

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