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Old 02-26-2012, 11:50 PM   #1
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Default Pinhole leaks in copper

Early this week I repaired a pinhole leak on a section of 1-1/4" copper DHW recirc'd line to a 24 unit apartment bldg. The piping seems to be mostly original (early '60's) with the odd repair here and there. Some of the branches and most of the recirc system have been replaced with PEX.

The section I cut out was within a foot of an elbow. It was so thin at the cut that I cut another foot out. Seemed somewhat better there so I drew the line and replaced only that portion. The owner stopped by and I showed him the half eaten Type L pipe I'd cut out (no thicker than foil!) and advised him that future leaks were imminent.

Since I'm confident that repiping with Type L copper would give another 40 yrs service life, my question is should we opt for a cheaper solution such as Uponor (the only PEX alternative I can think of) or just bust the hump and go with copper again, even though copper prices are still somewhat fkn nuts?

All opinions welcomed!
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:11 AM   #2
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How many units is this apt? 1.5 " just for a return line sounds like an overkill if it a small apt bldg..
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjbphd
How many units is this apt? 1.5 " just for a return line sounds like an overkill if it a small apt bldg..
Sorry, reread the op and yeap. Its a overkill for 1.5 return line with pump... since "they" see a 1.5 pipe, meaning a huge 1.5 hi vel pump which causes too much flow in pump and slowwly etched inside of pipe.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjbphd

Sorry, reread the op and yeap. Its a overkill for 1.5 return line with pump... since "they" see a 1.5 pipe, meaning a huge 1.5 hi vel pump which causes too much flow in pump and slowwly etched inside of pipe.
Again, I meant too much flow in pipe, not pump.. its Sunday's night...
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:26 AM   #5
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The OP mentioned it was on the recirculating system. He didn't say it was the return line. And 1.25, not 1.5.

Still, pump sizing and excessive flow could be the problem.
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Old 02-27-2012, 08:27 AM   #6
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We've got pinholes upon pinholes in these parts.

While the increase in chlorination due to incidents of pollutants making their way into the system is definitely part of it, the rumour has always been that there was some bad copper being used in the '80's around here. That was before my time in the trade so, I can't say for certain this has any merit but I've been hearing this for years - long before getting into plumbing even. Most all of the repairs we're making are in copper that is 25 years old or less. A lot of times it's copper "M" but not always. Most of the pinholes are at 90 deg. bends but, sometimes in straight runs. Finding a spot to tie in is often a trick as the piping is sometimes so thin you could spit through it.

A re-pipe is always the recommended solution. I try to sell Wirsbo as a permanent fix. Not every customer is willing to have that much work done so, we try as least to take the repair back to the meter and go as far as we can with the budget we're given.

For the customers that just want a patch job, we recommend they put us on speed dial.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:34 AM   #7
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Question ...has the effect of circulation in general manifested itself in other places as a complete thinning of the pipe?? I thought it caused pinholes particularly at elbow areas but was not aware of thinning over a broader surface...not arguing , just wondering..
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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Go with the copper.
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel View Post
Early this week I repaired a pinhole leak on a section of 1-1/4" copper DHW recirc'd line to a 24 unit apartment bldg. The piping seems to be mostly original (early '60's) with the odd repair here and there. Some of the branches and most of the recirc system have been replaced with PEX.

The section I cut out was within a foot of an elbow. It was so thin at the cut that I cut another foot out. Seemed somewhat better there so I drew the line and replaced only that portion. The owner stopped by and I showed him the half eaten Type L pipe I'd cut out (no thicker than foil!) and advised him that future leaks were imminent.

Since I'm confident that repiping with Type L copper would give another 40 yrs service life, my question is should we opt for a cheaper solution such as Uponor (the only PEX alternative I can think of) or just bust the hump and go with copper again, even though copper prices are still somewhat fkn nuts?

All opinions welcomed!
Pictures would help a bunch.

Because of where you say the leak is it sounds like localized velocity erosion. If that is the case, you should check your pump sizing and lower it as much as you can. After that you really need to look at the leak history before you condemn everything.

Mark
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:46 AM   #10
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If you get a chance to check any of the fittings out like the couplings, 90's or tee's . See if the pipe was reamed properly . It could be turbulence being caused by the reduction in the pipe not being properly reamed.
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