How Can You Tell If A Copper Pipe Is Leaking?
The most common sign that your copper pipes are leaking are a bluish-greenish stain on the outside of the pipe. This is a strong indication that your copper pipe has developed a pinhole leak.
The green color of the copper pipes in your home is called "patina." There are many reasons why you might see this. Some may be due to a reaction with oxygen over time, which causes corrosion and makes it appear that way.
Many homes in the Atlanta area are built with copper pipes. And generally speaking, copper pipes are still being installed because they are very durable, they tolerate heat very well and they have a long life span.
But, like all other types of pipes, they can develop leaks. For copper pipes, that's usually due to pinholes.
Copper pipes are notorious for developing pinhole leaks which are often not noticeable until some damage has been done.
Copper pipes may be prone to pinhole leaks that start springing up when there are changes in water ph. A change in the acidity of your drinking and cooking supply can corrode copper piping, leading to small holes from which leakage occurs.
A pinhole leak is what happens when corrosion has weakened your pipes for a long time. This means it's not only an issue in and of itself, but that there was also major damage to the interior of your copper pipe beforehand.
You can prevent this by having a plumber check for any irregularities under sinks or behind appliances.
Old and corroded copper pipes can become bulging in areas, change color to black or greenish brown, turn soft over time, have a musty and moldy smell. These are all clear signs of decaying piping that need replacement ASAP.
How Do You Find A Leak In A Copper Pipe?
An inspection of your copper pipes is the best way to find out if there are pinhole leaks.
Of course, other signs that indicate a leak somewhere in your plumbing system are...
- Higher water bill - if your monthly water bill is higher than normal - that's a very clear sign that there's a problem somewhere in your plumbing system and it could be a leaky pipe.
- Check your water meter - simply make sure that there's no water running in your home and then check your water meter. If it's running, then there's a leak somewhere in your plumbing system.
- Very green areas in your lawn - if you look out at your lawn and notice that there are patches of very green grass, that's a sign that there may be a problem with a leaky pipe under under that area (or an issue with your septic system if you have one on your property).
- Check your appliances - it's a good idea to check for puddles of water around your hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator to make sure there are no water leaks coming from these appliances.
- Toilet leaks - you may also want to check your toilets to make sure that they are not leaking either from the tank or the base.
- Low To No Water Pressure - this is a frustrating issue that can be caused by any number of problems and pipes going bad is one of them.
- Ceiling / Wall Damage - if you notice stains on your ceiling or your walls, or wallpaper or paint that is peeling in certain spots - this may be a sign that you have a pipe leak somewhere. This could be the result of your pipes going bad and needing repair or replacement.
Is It Common For Copper Pipes To Leak?
The short answer is yes, it is quite common for copper pipes to leak. Especially if they are past their lifespan. For copper pipes, that's 50 to 70 years.
If you are lucky, your copper pipes may last their entire expected lifespan but sometimes wear and tear happens quicker than expected. It's not uncommon for copper pipes to need repair and/or replacement after 20 years.
Repairing or Replacing Copper Pipes?
You may be able to repair any damage to your copper pipes by simply cutting out that portion of the pipe and replacing it with a new pipe. But that may not be a good long term solution, especially if your pipes are past their lifespan.
Your plumber should be able to advise you on the costs of repairing or replacing your pipes and of course, any pros and cons associated with that decision.
If you have any questions about copper pipes or are having some problems with it, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-443-8229. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.