Replace M-type copper tubing - is it necessary?


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Old 09-26-22, 07:44 AM
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Replace M-type copper tubing - is it necessary?

I recently had a pinhole leak in some plumbing in my attic. Small hole in the plumbing in above the wall adjoining my main and secondary bathrooms - ultimately the water came down the wall and out from under the tile in both bathrooms. So I am going thru restoration/etc with my insurance company. This is a first for me.

The plumbing company which came out recommended that I replace all of the 'down' plumbing (pipes and fittings/etc that go to my sinks/showers/tubs/etc) that is of type M copper tubing with PEX - BTW the other plumbing in the attic is the heavier duty L-type. This home underwent a big remodel in 2008 - both of these bathrooms were redone so I am pretty sure this M-type copper was installed at that timeframe. FWIW they also are recommending i do the water softening to extend the life of the plumbing.

Aside from the quote being crazy expensive (over $7K) for replacing the 'down' plumbing, does this seem necessary to redo all of this plumbing to get rid of the M-type copper? These guys seem to indicate that more leaks could be around the corner if I don't replace it


 
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Old 09-26-22, 10:42 AM
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What leaked in the attic.... the existing type L or the newer installed type M ?

If it's in the newer type M that would mean that copper pipe roughly 14 years old got a hole in it. Based on that I'd say absolutely you will be getting more leaks. PEX is definitely a recommended way to go.

Here's the thing.... either way you address the plumbing in the wall... it will be expensive and labor intensive to replace or repair in the future. Your insurance company will more than likely cover this repair once.... which is now.
 
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Old 09-26-22, 10:43 AM
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What caused the leak?
What is the pH of your water?

If your water is acidic copper can have a shortened life. A pinhole can be the tip of the iceberg. If the pipes are thinning then all the copper in the house is suffering the same fate and may need to be replaced. But, it depends on why you had the first leak.

If your water chemistry is attacking the copper I would not re-pipe with more copper. I would switch to PEX. And, if you water chemistry is to blame I would use plastic, NOT brass, fittings.
 
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Old 09-26-22, 11:51 AM
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Thanks for the replies - I am not exactly sure the pH of the water and exactly what caused the leak. Let me see if I can find this out.. However the leak was in the M-type copper and NOT L-type.

BTW - i wish my insurance would cover the repairs as it'd be a no-brainer. I am not sure if this is a California thing or nationwide as I am new to making claims on my home insurance. But apparently I am responsible for the costs of any 'repairs' to the plumbing, and my home insurance covers any damages or remediation that needs to be done. But I have to pay for re-plumbing and repairing leaks/etc (7K for re-plumb with PEX and if I choose to do water softener another 4K or so - getting a couple more bids)
 
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Old 09-26-22, 12:54 PM
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Pipes wearing out is normal wear and tear. Just like carpeting, the furnace or roof. They don't last forever and budgeting for their maintenance and repair is just a normal part of home ownership.

Depending on your insurance be careful trying to claim maintenance items on insurance. Your insurance carrier looks at your claims when determining rates. So, using your insurance, especially for what may be considered "marginal" things may end up costing you more in the long run. The insurance company, like gambling, stacks the rules in their favor so they don't loose.
 
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Old 09-26-22, 01:07 PM
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thanks Pilot Dane - makes sense these repairs are just part of normal maintenance. However, does 14 years seem reasonable for the M-type copper?

And yeah reg'd maintenance claims on my insurance - as i mentioned previously the insurance company already stated that I'm full responsible for the maintenance and repairs of the faults. So i'll be getting a few bids on the repiping
 
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Old 10-01-22, 11:35 AM
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does 14 years seem reasonable for the M-type copper?
I have heard of Type M copper leaking through pinholes, but have never seen it. I like to keep in mind that literally millions of homes have been built in this country with Type M copper piping that have never leaked.
​​​​​​​ What is the pH of your water?
​​​​​​​I was wondering the same thing as soon as I read the first post.
 
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Old 10-01-22, 01:51 PM
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Not a plumber but I know that Type M copper pipe is the most common pipe used in houses. When I replumbed my house I did some research and decided to use type M. Mostly because it was cheaper and type L seemed like overkill for a residence. In 25 years I never had a pipe failure. I did replace all the copper with PEX a couple of years ago mostly because all my walls were opened and the pipes accessible.
I googled Type M life expectancy and couldn't find an authoritive answer. Generally most "experts" seem to think 20 - 50 years but as others have mentioned, much depends on the PH of your water.
If I had your problem I would want to test my water before committing to a wholesale replacement and if it is acidic it can be corrected. I would also want to see the pipe that failed - is there any evidence of corrosion or did a joint leak? Lastly, I would get a couple of proposals from other contractors.

 
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Old 10-04-22, 11:26 AM
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Just confirming the pinhole was in the pipe, and not at a fitting or pipe strap.

Agree with all the other posts about water chemistry. But pinhole leaks can also be caused at a fitting by a poor solder joint, or along a line if it's in contact with another metal like a galvanized pipe strap or AC duct, MC cable, etc.

Unfortunately with one leak, it could be a lot of things. After the second, you'll know for sure - but I'm also sure you don't want to run into a second.
 
 

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