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Old 04-16-2013, 10:44 AM   #1
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


Yesterday I got home to find a pinhole leak had developed in a 1/2" copper line under my kitchen sink, flooding the kitchen and basement. When I went to remove the valve, the whole copper line twisted off. The inside had dissolved away such that the remaining wall thickness was paper thin.

This is the 3rd such leak in the last 4-5 years. My house was built in 1973. I'm on a private water system (spring) and my water has somewhat low pH. I should probably install a treatment system to neutralize the water, but at this point I think that would be painting a turd. Is there anyone who DOESN'T think I need a whole-house plumbing redo?

The house is two-story plus finished basement, so this won't be cheap or easy. Any thoughts on the best replacement material? PEX? Can this be fished, the way wiring is, to minimize removal of drywall? Any other thoughts on how best to approach this?

Thanks for any thoughts, advice, or condolences .

KJ

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Old 04-16-2013, 11:55 AM   #2
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


Three bids from three local licensed plumbers is the best you will get here. They will need to tear your house up a little. The bids to do everything in copper will be through the roof. Only choose is pex.

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Old 04-16-2013, 01:55 PM   #3
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


hi KJ –

I’m just a newbie but I have 1967 house with a well with water ph 5.5 (low). Bought the house 10 years ago and out of ignorance did not address the problem. My house is all copper also. ( I think maybe years ago there might have been a chemical injection system in the house to raise the ph, but I’m not sure.)

Anyway, I haven’t developed pinhole leaks yet. But I looked into all the options and it seems to be the prevailing wisdom is that once you start to get those pinholes (you've had several) it’s already too late. Hate to say that. So maybe you have no choice but to replace all of your piping.

But if I were you (but I’m just a newbie) I would make darn sure that a water treatment system would not stop the deterioration dead in its tracks (if that’s possible). For example, an Acid Neutralizer tank could raise your ph and you could install one yourself for maybe $700 (I did).

If it doesn’t stop the problem you’re out $700 smackers, but if it does, that’s better than replacing all of your piping. But the pro’s may say no way can water treatment stop the problem at this stage. But I would make sure.

Good luck!

Last edited by agoodboy; 04-16-2013 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 04-16-2013, 02:08 PM   #4
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


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hi KJ –

If it doesn’t stop the problem you’re out $700 smackers,

Good luck!
Actually, if it doesn't stop the problem, I'm out $700 PLUS however many thousands of dollars the next leak costs me... So, hard as it is, I'm tending to agree with your earlier sentiment that "it's too late".

Kelly
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Old 04-16-2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


Yes - good point Kelly. It sure would be a gamble. A leak can cause a lot of damage, especially some of those pinhole leaks inside a wall. This pinhole leak stuff is confusing. I thought it was all because of acidic water - but I've come across other information that says no one is quite sure what causes it, although I think low ph gets the most votes.

Looks like all the pros say pex is the way to go. Seems like you can't use copper even if you wanted to shell out all that money. So what would be left, just cpvc and pex? Seems everyone is pleased with pex. It seems to have a good track record.

Guess as the previous post said it would be best to get 3 bids.

Well good luck anyway!
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:08 PM   #6
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


I had a similar issue with my 1959 2000 sf house plumbed entirely in copper. Pinholes started first in the horizontal pipes, then I got one in a vertical pipe. That is when I changed all the pipe to PEX. I replaced the pipe myself, was not too bad of a job. I am not endorsing any specific products, however I will note that I used all Wirsbo fittings and tubing, and I bought a Wirsbo expander tool. The tools, fittings and pipe cost about $800, and there was some drywall removal and replacement. The job took me several days.

I am not a particularly experienced plumber. My point is you can do this job DIY if you have the time, a helper, and are willing to get some advice from others who have done it before. Or you can hire a plumber of course.

I recommend PEX because it is effectively inert to acidic water. My water is about pH 5.5, which was death to the copper after 50 years. Rather than get a water treatment system, I elected to replace all the pipe, because I did not care to deal with a water treatment system simply to handle a pH problem. Others may feel differently.
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Old 04-16-2013, 07:03 PM   #7
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


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...

I recommend PEX because it is effectively inert to acidic water. My water is about pH 5.5, which was death to the copper after 50 years. Rather than get a water treatment system, I elected to replace all the pipe, because I did not care to deal with a water treatment system simply to handle a pH problem. Others may feel differently.
My ph is also 5.5 and my thinking was exactly like yours Dan. Do I really want a water treatment system just for a ph problem? Was on the fence for a long long time and then decided (before I went nuts) just do it. (Especially when you get into the pros/cons of Acid Neutralizers and chemical injectors. etc.)

I knew PEX was inert to acidic water and would do the trick. Maybe I should have looked more closely at how economical pex is as you point out. I thought doing a house would be much much more than the $700 I shelled out for the AN Filter. That's why I was thinking that Kelly might possibly gain a lot by giving the AN Filter (or chemical injector) a try. Guess not.

When I do a replacement it will be pex.
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Old 04-16-2013, 10:25 PM   #8
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Whole-house copper plumbing replacement


How are you out 700 dollars when you need to get your PH right for human health?

As far as the rest of the house is concerned, If the kitchen line was that thin just think of the main lines that have been carrying all the water to every fixture in the house. The insides of your fixtures are probably shot too if they are brass.

Sounds like its time for Pex

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