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Several Leaks on Copper Pipe Leaving Water Heater - Concern over the Rest?

Several Leaks on Copper Pipe Leaving Water Heater - Concern over the Rest?

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  #1  
Old 09-07-13, 07:21 AM
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Several Leaks on Copper Pipe Leaving Water Heater - Concern over the Rest?

I've had five pin-hole leaks on the copper pipe leaving my water heater. The water heater is in the garage, the first four leaks were in the wall where the pipe enters and goes down to the slab. The house is about 14 years old, wondering -
1. What is causing these leaks?
2. Should I be concerned over there being more leaks under the slab?

I haven't noticed abnormal water bills, so assuming no "hidden" leaks. Guess I'm thinking more along the lines of being proactive to prevent them if there's any way to do that.


Tom
 
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  #2  
Old 09-07-13, 07:32 AM
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Time to replace all of it with Pex.
Must have acidic water.
Pretty common problem with copper.
 
  #3  
Old 09-07-13, 07:43 AM
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Are the leaks at joints or in the copper itself? 14 years isn't very old for a copper pipe to be corroding through.
 
  #4  
Old 09-08-13, 09:10 AM
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joecaption1-

Time to replace all of it with Pex.
Must have acidic water.
Pretty common problem with copper.

Joe are you sure? Tom says he has a water meter so that wouldn't be well water would it? Can't believe municipal water would be acidic.
 
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Old 09-08-13, 12:17 PM
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IF they are on a community well or small municipal water system they could still be getting well water and have a meter.

And municipal systems may very well have acidic water depending on where that water comes from. In my area a large portion of the water in municipal systems comes from surface sources. Reservoirs that are refilled by mountain snow melt in the spring and early summer. This water is often acidic and Seattle (for one) has been adding calcium to their water supply for at least a few decades to "harden" it because the extremely "soft" (acidic) water DOES corrode the piping systems.
 
  #6  
Old 09-08-13, 06:18 PM
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The leaks are in the pipe, not the joints. Replacing with Pex - huge job? I have another issue, and this is a weird one - when it rains I have cold water in the bathrooms furthest from the water heater. Only thing I've been able to figure is that water is collecting under the slab and sapping the heat from the pipes. So running pex in the attic might solve that problem too. I live in a town of around 50k people but I think there is at least one well supplementing the water system.

Tom
 
  #7  
Old 09-08-13, 06:52 PM
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If Iím not mistaken the "Federal Safe Drinking Water Act" 1976 (and later amended) requires municipal water suppliers to continually monitor all the water they supply and to treat it as necessary to insure all water maintains a neutral PH.

So after treatment when the water reaches you Iíd be surprised if your ph is <6.5. Doesn't seem likely that acidic water is your problem. But I donít think it would cost you much to get it tested. Even those little cheap ph kits would give you a ballpark ph indication.

From what Iíve been able to gather it seems like the pinhole leaks in copper is not well understood and even happens on relatively new installations like yours. Guess thatís not a big help though! lol
 
  #8  
Old 09-11-13, 06:20 AM
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I can attest to pinhole leaks while on a reasonably large municipal water supply. I'm not sure what causes them specifically, but in the ~7 years in the house, we had one leak in the water main from the road to the house, and 2 little spraying leaks in the 3/4" copper in the house. The house is 60 or so years old, so it may have been in progress for a while.
 
  #9  
Old 09-11-13, 07:02 AM
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Your pin hole leaks are most likely caused by electrolysis. The fix is to separate the heater from the piping so there will be no electrical conductivity.

How to do it?

Install two dielectric unions. make sure they are installed correctly.

Dielectric Unions, Water Safety & Flow Control, Watts
 
  #10  
Old 09-12-13, 02:40 PM
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It's a gas water heater, so electrolysis is less likely, right?
 
  #11  
Old 09-12-13, 03:13 PM
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No...

Galvanic corrosion can occur when two dissimilar metals are used in your plumbing system. I dont know what you have. The ion structure changes also like in softened water that makes it more conductive.

Also you need to understand that the water pipes are often grounded and in rare cases with trouble with the panel I believe there can be a low voltage to ground. I have seen this before and it was very troublsome to find. I believe there was 5 volts or something like that.

Also moving water produces a low electrical current from what I know..

There are many causes too that cannot be overlooked like certain material pipe straps and such for the galvanic corrosion.

I read static electricity if the pipes are near duct work can cause electric current through the pipes. Just like when you touch a door knob in winter... The static may be discharge to the piping...

Just my thoughts anyway. Especially that the pipe has pin holes on the outside.
 
  #12  
Old 03-17-14, 07:38 PM
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Well, I had yet another pinhole leak and decided to call a plumber. Not because I couldn't fix it, I just needed a (hopefully) expert opinion. The guy that came out had 14 years of experience, so had seen a lot. I told him some of the ideas but he locked on to the electrolysis. After some dis-assembly / inspection he was convinced that's what it was - there was no (electrical) insulation of any type between the heater and plumbing. Not even teflon tape which according to him would have helped. Sure enough the very first part of the pipe had a LOT of corrosion. He said he had seen that in other installations where electrolysis was at work. So, we cut out as much as we could (to the slab) and installed PEX. Hopefully that will end it, unless it starts on the input (cold water) side! Thanks for all of the help!

Tom
 
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