Aug 25, 2022
Copper has fully established a reputation for quality and longevity. This holds true across a variety of home products, including copper piping. If your home has copper piping, you can expect it to present very few problems. Both lightweight and strong, copper piping is widely considered a problem-free material. But how long do copper pipes last?
Copper is naturally corrosion resistant, but it can break down over time. Eventually, you may discover a pinhole leak in copper pipes. You may wonder, “What causes pinhole leaks in copper pipes?” Here’s everything you need to know about copper piping longevity and how to handle pinhole leaks with copper pipe leak repair.
How Long Do Copper Pipes Last?
A residential piping system made from copper pipes should last between 20 and 50 years. The exact lifespan depends on the type of copper used. Certain coppers are more susceptible to corrosion than others, so if you’re unsure about your piping, check with a professional plumber to help. If your home has a thinner variety of copper, then expect it to last for a shorter amount of time. Thinner copper will wear down faster and need repairs or replacement sooner.
If your copper piping is more than 20 years old (meaning your home was built in the 1990s or earlier), then you want to be extra observant when looking for pinhole leaks. If you discover a pinhole leak in a copper pipe, it’s most likely a systematic issue. As the copper pipe ages, the inner lining weakens and makes the pipe more susceptible to pinhole leaks. You can speak with a professional about copper pipe leak repair, but, in many cases, the most cost-effective solution is to replace your piping.
What Causes Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes?
Pinhole leaks are the result of slowly developing corrosion. When corrosive materials flow through the inside of the pipe, they wear down the inner lining and metal. Over time, the constant use and natural aging cause a pinhole leak.
In most cases, homes in areas with hard water (water with high levels of magnesium and dissolved calcium) are more prone to developing pinhole leaks in their copper piping. Alternatively, if your water has a pH level that’s too low or too high, this can also lead to corrosion in your copper pipes.
Sand, sediment, and other grit in the water can also cause corrosion of your copper pipes. Getting a high-quality water filter for your home’s plumbing system can help your copper pipes last longer.
Fixing a Pinhole Leak in Copper Pipe
To be able to fix a pinhole leak in a copper pipe, you need to be able to identify the leak first. Copper pinhole leaks tend to go undetected since they develop slowly and start small. They allow moisture to seep into the insulation or wall cavities of your home rather than flooding large, noticeable areas. As the leak continues unnoticed, it can grow larger and become more obvious, causing more damage.
To help catch pinhole leaks as early as possible, it’s important to have your copper piping checked for pinhole leaks by a professional plumber. Schedule an annual visit with a plumber you trust to help catch leaks before they happen.
While there are many DIY methods for fixing pinhole leaks in copper pipes, it’s best to trust the job to the professionals. The most effective way to fix pinhole leaks in copper pipes is called “sweating” replacement. Homeowners should not attempt this method on their own since it involves soldering, which requires skill and expertise.
If more than half of your home’s copper piping needs repairing, it’s recommended and typically more cost-effective to replace all the piping in your home rather than attempting to fix it.
Professional Copper Pipe Leak Repair
If you need help with a copper piping inspection, copper pipe leak repair, or copper piping replacement, CroppMetcalfe’s team of experienced plumbers are ready and able to take on the job. We can keep your piping inspection up to date, and we’re available to do emergency plumbing repairs. Give us a call or reach out online to schedule your service visit.