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Why copper pipes leak so often in Polk County Florida

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Pro-Tech Plumbing LLC.
Your Home Plumbing Specialists
Residential Plumbing
Serving Polk County Florida
863-293-4202
863-687-8082

The Most Common Cause Of Copper Pipe Corrosion

Copper Pipe CorrosionIn central Florida the most common cause of pinhole leaks is corrosion from fluxing chemicals. Zinc Chloride in the flux reacts with our high PH and high chlorine levels. 90% of the leaks we locate and repair in Lakeland Florida are due to internal flux corrosion. Many plumbers in Winter Haven do not understand what causes these types of leaks to occur.  There have been theories about phosphates in the ground from phosphate strip mines attacking the copper pipes from the outside, electrical charges from building wiring systems charging the pipes and causing corrosion, lightning strikes traveling through the municipal water systems, etc.

The fact is though,  most of the leaks in Polk County are from internal flux corrosion coupled with out local water chemistry. Pipes on municipal systems are 10 times a likely to suffer damage as ones installed on private well systems or municipalities such as Bartow that don’t use much chlorine.

When soldering copper pipe, one must use a chemical that keeps the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe clean when it is heated, so that the solder will stick to it and become a metallurgical bond. The older flux chemicals were dissolved in petroleum jelly. If you got a glob of that stuff on your hand and try to rinse it off with water it doesn’t wash off. The same is true inside copper pipes. The worst part about this is that when the pipe is heated with the torch the flux paste melts and runs down the insides of the pipes spreading the damage area.

How Pinhole Leaks Develop and The Resulting Problems

Closeup View of Corrosion and a Pinhole Inside a Copper PipeAfter construction is complete and water begins flowing through the pipes, the corrosion process begins. It may take as little as 5 years in some parts of central Florida. We do plenty of pin hole leak repairs in Davenport. Most of the homes we are repairing or repiping there are 10-12 years old.

The internal pitting process starts at the same time everywhere in the system. As a result, when the first leak pops up, it’s just one of an endless string. Since each pit in the pipe wall started forming at the same time, they all “finish the race” to the outside of the pipe wall at around the same time. For example, you might go 20 years before the house gets it’s 1st pinhole leak. But the second only takes a year or so to pop up. then a few more months go by and you get a third. the process keeps accelerating until leaks pop up in just weeks. Given that the average 2 bathroom home has over 50 connections, you are not likely to ever fix them all without going bankrupt. This is especially true when you factor in the costs related to water damage and damage caused by making access to the leak areas to do spot repairs.

 

The Best Thing To Do When You Have Pinhole Leaks In Your Home

Flux Corrosion in a Copper PipeThe most logical thing to do when you start getting leaks is to just repipe the home. If you want to financially chase your tail, attempting to “fix” a failing copper system is a good start. Also, if you think your home owners insurance is going to take the brunt of it, you may be in store for a rude awakening. In Florida, most insurance companies will not pay for a repipe job unless you happen to be one of the rare few who get a leak that actually costs more to repair than to repipe. In most cases, they do not pay for the plumbing portion of the repairs. After 2 or 3 leak claims, they will usually send you a letter that they are cancelling you unless you get your house repiped.

What it all boils down to: If you start getting pinhole leaks in your home in Polk County Florida, don’t waste your money putting off a job that MUST be done. Just bite the bullet and get a good quality re-pipe done correctly and be over with it. Don’t just hire the first yokel that claims he can repipe your house. Get a warranty that is going to cover you for a long time. You never know how long you’ll live in that home. The whole reason you’re in this mess in the first place is the home builders plumber slopped everything together. BREAK THE CYCLE, call us.

Pro-Tech Plumbing LLC.
Your Home Plumbing Specialists
Residential Plumbing
Serving Polk County Florida
863-293-4202
863-687-8082