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Old 11-08-2013, 11:00 AM   #1
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What is eating my copper pipes?


About 2 months ago, my 9 year old tanked water heater was removed after water leakage in my mechanical closet. It was apparently a slow leak from the bottom of the tank. Because it was a slow leak, I didn't notice the water on the floor until I opened the closet door one day. The water was probably there for a couple weeks.

Shortly thereafter, the tanked WH came out, and installers put in a new tankless WH. They used some new copper pipe and new elbows for small sections of the piping, and connected them to the existing pipe in the closet.

Two weeks later, I got a pin-hole leak in 1/2" hot water copper pipe in the closet. The plumber wrote it off as an old pipe problem (it was probably at least 45 years old). He replaced a 2 feet section (above and below the subfloor) with brand new copper pipe.

Two weeks later, I had two additional pin-hole leaks, including one in the two-week old copper pipe!!! The other leak was in the old cold water riser pipe in the closet. Both leaks were around floor level. I have crawl space.

So the plumber surmised that a chemical, organic, inorganic, or biological agent that is toxic/caustic is eating the pipe at or around the floor level. He thinks the water leak activated something in the closet that is causing the problem.

Has anyone experienced this? Could the water leakage have activated something in the wood sub-floor or insulation that is destroying my pipe? I've collected material from around the leaking pipes and am seeking a local testing lab to at least identify the chemicals or whatever is in it. I did use a cockroach water container in that room for a while. Is it possible that is the culprit and that the water leakage activated it and it spread into the floor, eventually eating the pipe?

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Old 11-08-2013, 11:29 AM   #2
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What is eating my copper pipes?


All signs of the water being to acidic.
Replace it all with Pex and the problem will be no more.
Pretty common problem with old copper pipes.

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Old 11-08-2013, 12:54 PM   #3
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What is eating my copper pipes?


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Originally Posted by Dennisv21 View Post
...including one in the two-week old copper pipe!!!
So the plumber surmised

Has anyone experienced this?...
Experienced a plumber surmise something and suggest an expensive contract as the solution
without any objective back up data?
Nope... never had anything like that

Get your water quality tested.
Talk to your neighbors about their experiences.
Check other fittings and line pressure too.
Report back.
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:33 PM   #4
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What is eating my copper pipes?


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Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
Experienced a plumber surmise something and suggest an expensive contract as the solution
without any objective back up data?
Nope... never had anything like that

Get your water quality tested.
Talk to your neighbors about their experiences.
Check other fittings and line pressure too.
Report back.

Yep, you never know when a plumber (even with a supposedly reputable company) is giving straight scoop. He told me he has never seen a copper pipe that is only 2 weeks old have a pin-hole leak in his 31 years in the business.

I'm getting my water tested now and will have results soon.

Line pressure is fine.

The entire piping system is at least 45 years old, possibly older, with the exception of the brand new pipe sections that came in with the tankless WH install, along with the recent pipe replacements. It's time for new water distributon piping. Some sections of pipe in the crawl space look like they are on the last leg. So I had a plumbing supervisor/salesman give me an estimate for a entire new system last night. He said PEX piping would not work in my 62 year old house because of the water system design in my crawl space. I have no idea if that is truthfui or not. If the results show highly acidic water, I may need to alter my plan for the new copper pipe install. But I've lived here for 30 years, and really have not had any leaking issues until the past 2 months.
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Old 11-08-2013, 01:48 PM   #5
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What is eating my copper pipes?


Municipal or well water?

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Old 11-08-2013, 02:41 PM   #6
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What is eating my copper pipes?


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Municipal or well water?

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Municipal
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Old 11-08-2013, 03:04 PM   #7
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What is eating my copper pipes?


It's the water. My father-in-law just finished replacing every inch of copper pipe in his 25-year-old house due to pinhole leaks everywhere. Besides replacing the piping, you've got to do something about treating the water or your fancy, expensive tankless unit will be junk in a couple of years.
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Old 11-08-2013, 04:02 PM   #8
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It's the water. My father-in-law just finished replacing every inch of copper pipe in his 25-year-old house due to pinhole leaks everywhere. Besides replacing the piping, you've got to do something about treating the water or your fancy, expensive tankless unit will be junk in a couple of years.
So a pin-hole leak can occur in a 2-week old copper pipe because of highly acidic water? Wouldn't it be more gradual?

I have been told that highly acidic water can ruin the coils in the tankless w.h. even with yearly maintenance. So you are right -- I'll need to install an acid neutralizer if the water is the problem. More expense. Oh well, the challenges of long-term home ownership.
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Old 11-08-2013, 04:13 PM   #9
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What is eating my copper pipes?


I have never heard of this. Copper should last a long time. Unless they don't make copper pipe the way they use to. Maybe it was some cheap stuff.
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Old 11-08-2013, 04:18 PM   #10
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What is eating my copper pipes?


The part of the new pipe having a pin hole and it's the water is BS.
The part where the older pipe is going bad is expected and normal in older copper pipes.
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Old 11-08-2013, 05:19 PM   #11
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What is eating my copper pipes?


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The part of the new pipe having a pin hole and it's the water is BS.
The part where the older pipe is going bad is expected and normal in older copper pipes.
So you are saying I probably don't have a water problem, as you indicated in post #2 above.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:14 PM   #12
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What is eating my copper pipes?


Not at all, he installed a damaged piece of pipe or it was his soldering that was leaking.
No way is a 2 week old copper pipe going to corrode through from the inside that fast.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:57 PM   #13
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What is eating my copper pipes?


Did you water provider change the method of chlorination in the past 5 years?
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Old 11-08-2013, 08:47 PM   #14
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What is eating my copper pipes?


I have pretty acidic well water, pH is about 5.5. My copper pipes lasted almost 50 years before they developed terminal leakage. I replaced them with PEX, which I expect will last another 50 years or so.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY copper pipe develops pinhole leaks in 2 weeks, short of you running concentrated nitric acid through your pipes, which you would notice because every single pipe in your house would dissolve. So it sounds likely that there was an installation problem with the two week old piece, possibly in the soldering, or the pipe was damaged during install.
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Old 11-08-2013, 09:27 PM   #15
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What is eating my copper pipes?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennisv21 View Post
I'm getting my water tested now and will have results soon.
Good.
Quote:
Line pressure is fine.
Quantify that. At the very least use a temporary gauge on a hose bib... but ideally fit a permanent gauge both before and after the PRV.

The other thing to investigate is to what degree your city has increased water line pressure over the last several years.

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