Recognizing The Difference Between Pinhole And Joint Leaks

Joints are among the most common locations for leaks in household plumbing, but they aren't the only source of trouble. If your home uses copper pipes, you may also face pinhole or pitting leaks. This type of leak results from corrosion in the pipe's metal walls, and it can be a stubborn problem that may keep cropping up time and time again.

Recognizing the difference between these two types of leaks can be crucial in determining how to address them. Keep reading to understand how these leaks differ, why they occur, and what you can do to resolve them and prevent more leaks in the future.

A Tale of Two Leaks

Joint leaks occur at fittings where two pipes meet. For copper pipes, these joints may be threaded or soldered. Threaded joints can be especially susceptible to failures when installed incorrectly. Often, leaks in these pipes show up when a homeowner attempts to use threaded fitting and fails to apply sealant.

While joint leaks are often the result of improper installation, pinhole or pitting leaks are a form of pipe wear. These leaks develop when water corrodes the pipe's outer walls, resulting in a pitted or rough appearance. Continued corrosion will lead to leaks, which usually take the form of tiny pinholes that can sometimes spray water at reasonably high pressure.

These two types of leaks differ in how and where they form and how they progress. Joint leaks can grow worse over time, but the problem is always limited to the affected joint. Corrosion is often a systemic problem, however. Fixing one pinhole leak may lead to a leak in another corroded section since the water in the pipe will attempt to escape through the next weakest point.

Fixing Your Leaks For Good

Fixing a joint leak is relatively straightforward: in most cases, you'll need to either replace, resolder, or rethread the affected joint. For threaded joints, a plumber may detach the joint and apply a pipe compound to stop the leak and prevent it from recurring. You will only need to replace the joint if the threads are damaged.

Dealing with corroded pipes can be more challenging, however. Replacing the leaking section is the first step, but it's also crucial to check for other areas that may also be wearing away. Leaving these sections alone may lead to more leaks soon. It's also a good idea to determine the underlying cause of the problem, such as high water pressure or rust entering your hot water lines from your water heater.

Remember that plumbing problems can quickly lead to expensive water damage. If your home's plumbing develops a leak, always ensure you take the necessary steps to repair the problem thoroughly.

For more information, contact a local plumber.