When you think about typical residential plumbing pipes, which ones come to mind? Some of you may forget and need to check in the utility room or underneath the sink. When you open your base cabinet, the first thing you notice are probably the waste line and p-trap which are commonly made of PVC or ABS. They are the first thing you see because they are larger in diameter than your water lines. Waste lines installed under sinks are typically around 1 1/2 inches in diameter, whereas water lines are about half an inch. That is because drain lines require more space when disposing of wastewater.
On the other hand, your supply lines work with a different type of pressure and flow rate. The most suitable materials used include PEX and copper. Copper was widely used in the 1960s and was praised for its durability, functionality and aesthetics. As the best type of metal in plumbing, it does not involve any health risks unlike plastic types. Many homes are equipped with copper, especially when connecting to the city mains and to the relevant plumbing fixtures inside homes. But what you will see under your sink is likely PEX or braided stainless steel faucet connectors. They are usually about 3/8 inches in diameter which is enough to provide you with a decent water pressure and flow rate.
If you have copper for plumbing, it’s worth inspecting it on an annual basis and acquaint yourself with it in the event of a plumbing issue involving your water lines. Repairs are not uncommon. Pressure issues happen frequently in homes, whether you notice fluctuations or hear pipe making knocking noises. When leaving these warning signs unaddressed, you will eventually need copper pipe leak repair services. Mr. Rooter Plumbing has seen it all. Water line maintenance and services are crucial in maintaining a healthy plumbing system in your home. Incidents like pipe bursts could lead to basement flooding and other costly damages.
Our expert plumbers have the years of experience and training needed to inspect and diagnose issues at their source and eliminate them fast and effectively. This way, you can rest easy knowing that we’re experts in copper pipe leak repairs. We will make sure your system won't cause trouble again for a long time to come. We only hire certified plumbers that have passed their background checks and drug screens. You can expect our dedicated and uniformed service technicians at Mr. Rooter Plumbing to always arrive in a marked van with the tools needed to get the job done right.
Copper Plumbing Pipes
The use of copper pipes dates back to Ancient Egypt where they used to dig wells that were 300 feet deep. In the 1940s, people retrieved this idea and decided to use it for plumbing. However, it didn’t become popular until the 60s, except that it was a very expensive investment — which it still is. But who doesn’t want a piping system that would last up to 70 years?
The high costs are associated with the material itself and the slightly more complex installation process. Although different connection options are available, the solder-type is still the best as it allows you to structure your piping system in a way that works best for your home. That said, this requires professional technicians that know the procedure and how to follow protocols. Since soldering is a method of using metal filler to join two sections of piping, you need to understand the nature of copper and know how to heat it without it reaching a melting point. It’s also an important method of sealing seams against leaks. Copper pipe leak repair involves a fair bit of soldering in that matter.
Water Pressure Vs. Water Flow Rate
Before we get into the causes of a leaky copper pipe and repair methods, it’s important to understand the function of water lines. The way we define water pressure is that it’s a physical force exerted to push it through your lines.
The flow is the continuous stream movement influenced by your pipe’s size and pressure involved. You might think that having wider pipes will give you a better flow rate but in fact, it’s all down to the pressure level. Besides, both pressure and flow are affected by friction. If you live in an area where you have moderately hard water, your pipe walls will collect mineral deposits over time and become narrow. This is a type of friction that obstructs both pressure and flow. The flow is fully dependent on the pressure, no matter what size your supply line is. If the flow from your tap isn’t satisfactory, you might find yourself adjusting the faucet, but adjusting the water pressure regulator will be your best option to optimize flow.
If you don’t have a regulator, it’s worth checking with your municipality who might be in control of it. Otherwise, your certified plumber will be able to help you out. Having your own pressure regulator will allow you to take better care of your plumbing and avoid the need for copper pipe leak repair.
Causes Of Copper Pipe Leaks
Repairs are all too common when you have metal pipework in your home or live in an area where hard water and pH levels play a role in damaging your plumbing. But what causes these leak damages?
Hard water: Even though it depends on your area, many Canadian cities have hard water in one way or another. When your supply comes from the mountains, chances are you have a high concentration of dissolved minerals running through your copper water pipe. Over time, these minerals will settle on the walls and wear out the inner lining by creating a pinhole leak. Sooner than you know it you will require a copper pipe leak repair.
High pH level: pH levels determine the acidity of your water. While it’s not harmful to humans, it is for copper piping. Over time, it creates a chemical reaction and eats away the interior coating, designed to protect your pipe’s interior. This will quickly lead to corrosion and leaks in copper pipes and soon your will require a copper pipe leak repair.
High pressure: Ever noticed your pipe making noises whenever you turn on and off your faucet or run your washing machine? The most common sound is the water hammer which occurs when your water pressure level is set too high. The sudden turning on and off highly impacts the flow in your pipes and hence the hammer sounds, which is water coming to a sudden halt, hitting the corner inside the pipe.
Poor installation: Copper pipe leak repair shouldn’t happen, not any time soon anyway, if you have a system less than ten years old. Unfortunately, if any DIY repairs or installation took place, you’d likely have used retrofitted parts not meant to be part of the overall structure.
What Are Pinhole Leaks?
It’s a common damage type related to copper piping. Imagine tiny holes in copper material caused by corrosion. Although copper is known to be fairly corrosion resistant, it doesn’t mean that it’s able to withstand any environment and climate conditions. While preventative maintenance plays a huge role in containing this type of pipework, aging is another factor that leads to pinholes.
Signs You Need Copper Pipe Leak Repair
It may not be all too obvious when you need copper pipe leak repairs from a professional plumber. Warning signs often start small, and a leaky pipe goes unnoticed until the damage becomes visible or audible.
Drop in water pressure: When you’re taking a shower and notice a drop in pressure, you might wonder if someone is messing with the faucets or using the hose bib outside. If you’re the only one using water, it might be worth checking your shower head cartridge for sediment clogs or even inspect your water lines behind the tile for leaks. If problems persist and other plumbing fixtures are affected, you likely have a leak elsewhere in your home.
Dripping sounds: If you hear drip sounds or running water behind floors, contact your plumber right away to locate this pinhole leak.
Pipe discoloration: Copper should always look shiny and bronzy. However, if you notice green and blue discoloration, it’s a sign of oxidation on both the interior and exterior of your copper lines and water leaks are the culprit. This will affect your water supply’s quality.
Musty smells: You’ll know you need copper pipe leak repair if you smell mildew or mold in the room. Pinhole leaks create moisture damage that tends to occur behind walls.
Spike in water bill: If you notice any unusual fluctuations in your water bills, pay close attention to potential leaks and keep an eye out on other warning signs mentioned above. Try shutting off your water metermetre to check for leaks or contact your expert plumber in town for a proper plumbing diagnosis and inspection service.
Visible damage: If you detected the leak, you’ll likely have spotted water damage around your copper line or wet areas nearby.
Copper Pipe Leak Repair – What To Do During an Emergency?
There are ways to stay prepared during an emergency situation. That said, it’s a plumbing emergency, and you should always call your local plumbing company for immediate repair services.
If you are a DIY professional with some plumbing skills, it’s good to equip yourself with useful plumbing tools and materials or a pipe repair kit that will provide a temporary solution to the pinhole leak until your plumbing technician arrives.
Repair kit should include:
Pipe repair tape
Sharp utility knife
Pipe repair clamp, hose clamp
Adhesive pipe tape, compression tape
Wire fitting brush (3/4 inch diameter)
Your expert plumber will likely bring replacement pipes, solder wire, compression couplings and a copper pipe cutter for the proper repair.
At Mr. Rooter Plumbing, we care about bringing you a permanent solution to your plumbing issues. While repair is always an option, we will be transparent about our copper leak repair service. If we believe your pipe damage is beyond repair, we will tell you and offer you the most cost-effective repair solution.
For your DIY temporary repair, we will focus on the easiest options. However, it’s crucial that you first identify the severity of your situation. Copper pipe leak repairs require certified plumbing professionals so that you get the peace of mind knowing your copper lines will last. They use expert repair methods to ensure your plumbing problems won’t return.
There are a couple of ways you can go about your pinhole leak, depending on the severity and how soon you plan to call for expert help.
The first step to take is to shut off your water supply and drain the line if possible. Then, move on to these repair options.
Option 1: If you have a gasket kit, you can fix the leak with gasket rubber. Wrap a piece of gasket rubber around your copper pipe and position the hose clamp over the gasket and tighten it.
Option 2: Clean and wipe the exterior of your copper line and use compression tape to wrap around the pinhole leak. Wrap several layers to ensure it’s secure.
Note: Please note that these are the safest options for homeowners in the event of a pinhole leak. Any other type of repair would pose safety hazards and could potentially break building codes. If you have any questions about copper pipe leak repairs, contact your local plumber for more details.
Need Copper Pipe Leak Repairs? Trust Mr. Rooter Plumbing To Get It Done!
Mr. Rooter Plumbing is available 24/7 with convenient appointments and plumbing service to deal with all kinds of plumbing emergencies, including clogged kitchen sinks and water line repairs. Whether you just need a professional with a plunger, or professional plumbing inspection services, rely on our experts to meet your needs!
Get in touch with our professional plumber or learn more about our wide range of plumbing services that we offer.