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Some truth included in this post.
Hurley, MS

Pinhole in a copper pipe

Yesterday I came home to find my laundry room soaked. My wife had been doing laundry all day, and there was a very wet patch on the ceiling. I was worried that a pipe in the attic was leaking.

I went into the attic, but the attic was bone dry. I went back down, and after much searching inside the laundry room, I found the source of the leak. One of the exposed copper pipes leading to the water heater had a pin-sized hole in it, and it was spraying a tiny, almost invisible stream of water at the ceiling (thus the reason the ceiling was dripping).

I turned the water off, let it dry, and put a little duct tape on it, but it started leaking through. Do I need to go to a plumber, or is there an easy way to get this done. I'm about the most non-handy person around, so it would have to be something very easy.

60 billion
Wheeling, WV

1 edit
The best solution would be to get a plumber to replace the section of pipe. You could also try to put some solder over the hole but you need a torch. Any sort of nonmetal fix would eventually have a hole drilled through it by the water.

Edit: spelling

Dallas, TX
reply to brandon
Brandon if your not handy you can't fix this! It needs to be fixed today if the duct tape didn't work. Most insurance does NOT cover water damage.

As a patch there is some metallised duct tape that maybe a little better but will not fix it.

You need a torch, solder, flux and at least 2 copper coupling to fix this.

Call a handyman or plumber now. It's not a big repair and shouldn't be too expensive. Water damage can cost thousands.

All static, all day, Forever
·Dish Network

1 recommendation

reply to brandon
To do a temporary fix on a leak like this is easy. Get a piece of rubber hose a couple inches long and a hose clamp. Slice the rubber hose open so you can slip it over the pipe where the leak is. Put the hose clamp over it and tighten it down.

I've done this several times to fix pinhole leaks in the water system at work. It works great. It should be used as a temporary fix until that section of pipe can be replaced, but at least it buys you some time and you don't have to leave the water shut off!
Expand your moderator at work

Go Colts
Fort Wayne, IN

2 recommendations

reply to brandon

Re: Pinhole in a copper pipe

There are a variety of different handyman methods of patching the leak. The rubber hose method that UHF mentioned is probably the quickest, but it's also the least permanent method that you should even consider. There are compression union fittings that you can purchase at a hardware store that you can use to replace a section of pipe. You cut the line where the hole is, slip the connector on all the way one way, slide it down over the other section of pipe, and then tighten up the joints. More permanent then the rubber hose, but not the best. Replacing the section is the best fix but also requires the most work and if you've never soldered, probably not the best thing to practice on.

All these things though treat the effect, not the cause. Pinhole leaks don't just happen without a reason after years of service. Usually the two likely culprets is electrolysis or acidic water. With electrolysis, an electrical charge slowly transfers copper ions from the pipe to other metals, usually a galvanized pipe of sorts. It's the same process that is used with metal plating. Over time, enough of those ions are transfered that the wall thins and a small pin hole leak forms. If one pin hole leak has formed, it's likely that more may show up soon. The other cause, acidic water, is essentially the same process.

Fix your pipe, but you'd also do go to have your water tested. There are systems available that can negate both of the common conditions described above.


reply to brandon
The fact that you admit you are the most non handy person around leads one to suggest you call a plumber or a competant family member if one exists to do the work.

Always Mount A Scratch Monkey


1 recommendation

reply to brandon
Dab of JB Weld over the hole.

If can repair engine blocks...

Ex .. Ex .. Exactly
Parsonsburg, MD
reply to brandon
I 2nd the rubber hose method that UHF mentioned. I once "temporarily" repaired a leak like you described for a year.

Here's a link that shows a picture and description of the repair procedure.

» ··· air.html

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Austin, TX
reply to balazone
Also, if you are going to attempt a solder fix for the leak, please be aware that the pipe must be drained when you do the soldering. It is really tough to heat up the pipe enough for the solder and flux to work if there is water in the pipe that spreads out the heat of the torch.

Milford, NH
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reply to brandon
As others have mentioned if you drain the water you can solder the pinhole to fix the leak. I had to do that when I managed to drive a finishing nail into our bathroom water pipe finishing off the house.

Since this does not sound like a new house if the pipe is leaking most likely it is due to corrosion there are probably lots of other spots days, weeks, months, years away from more leaks. The entire section of bad pipe should be replaced. The temporary fixes mentioned will work until a more permanent repair can be made. Might try a piece of old inner tube and a hose clamp. You need something that will exert more pressure on the patch then the water is trying to leak out.


Lone Wolf
reply to brandon
For a quick, temporary fix you can try to use a sheet metal screw. Just use a screwdriver and a screw that fits into the hole. We used to use that fix on water heaters many, many years ago.

John Galt
Forward, March
Happy Camp
reply to cdru
said by cdru:

With electrolysis, an electrical charge slowly transfers copper ions from the pipe to other metals, usually a galvanized pipe of sorts.
You should check the ground for your electrical system, from the panel to the rod. It may be corroded and/or disconnected. Be careful when fooling with the electrical ground wire. Just inspect it. If it looks like it needs work, call Sparky.
A is A

Collinsville, IL
reply to brandon
They also make metal clamps with a rubber gasket that you clamp onto the pipe. There again it's a temporary fix till you have time/money to fix it properly.

Some truth included in this post.
Hurley, MS
reply to newview
said by newview:

I 2nd the rubber hose method that UHF mentioned. I once "temporarily" repaired a leak like you described for a year.

Here's a link that shows a picture and description of the repair procedure.

» ··· air.html
These look like some potential things I can do until the plumber calls me back to have the section repaired.

And yea, the house is old, and my dad works in a water testing lab, so I'll get him on that pretty soon, too.

Thanks for all the good advice, guys.

...Blown On The Steel Breeze
Emerging Research

1 recommendation

reply to brandon
Also, if you have any saddle valves lying aroung, just clamp the saddle valve over the hole. It will seal it, and if you ever need a tap for an ice maker or other appertenance, you have a ready place to tap into.

"I was the bad guy once again. I laughed at their sorrows. Ha ha ha ha ha."


Oliver Springs, TN
reply to mityfowl
said by mityfowl:

It needs to be fixed today if the duct tape didn't work. Most insurance does NOT cover water damage.
That is untrue. Homeowners insurance will typically not cover water intrusion from the outside, such as from flooding. A broken water pipe in the dwelling is indeed covered by the majority of insurance policies. Only the damage is covered, not the cost of the repair.

Additionally, if you know there is a leak and do nothing to mitigate the damages then the damage is not covered. The water needs to be shut off until the repair is made and this is considered mitigating the damages.

The repair can be easily done with some solder and a MAP gas torch. But you have to remove all the water from the repair area otherwise you cannot get the pipe hot enough.

In your case your best bet is to call a plumber or find someone who is handy with this type of repair.

LXI 483
O Fallon, MO
reply to brandon
Lowes and Home Depot both have a temporary pipe patch kit in the plumbing section. Should hold the leak back until you can get a plumber.
Stop looking at me!

reply to brandon
Your sacrificial rod in your water heater is probably gone, worn out. Now the copper pipes from water heater are being eaten away internally, that's how you got the pin hole.
Similar problem was on one of the "This Old House" episodes. I remember that chubby plumber explaining the problem and cause to Norm in some guys basement.

Chattanooga, TN
reply to brandon
i imagine that this copper pipe is probably 1 inch in diameter at the most. turn the water off (and the power to the water heater too, dont want to heat water with no pressure).

you can get a pipe cutter for a small amount of change at the hardware store. it simple to operate, you can even use a hacksaw if you have a steady hand. if the pipe is run straight (horizontal or vertical, it doesnt matter) cut out about a 6 inch section of the pipe that is leaking.

take it to the hardware, tell them what it is and you need a small propane torch kit (can get them at walmart for like 15 bucks, solder and flux included) and you will get that kit and some fine grit sandpaper.

get a replacement length of pipe, about 5.5 inches for the 6 inches you cut out and get two joint fittings. they will know what you need.

go home, ensure that the cut ends of the pipe are dry. take the sandpaper and use it to rough up the ends where the joint fittings are going to slide over the pipe. do that on both ends. take your flux and use the applicator to put it all over the pipe on both ends and in the sleeve of the joint fitting and on the new pipe. put it all together, then fire up the small propane torch. adjust the flame at the tip (it screws up and down by finger) and you want the flame to be almost solid blue. WARNING: be careful where you aim the flame while soldering!!!! it will catch anything on fire IE drapes, walls etc if you exposed the flame to it long enough.

any rate, put the flame on the joint, about 1 inch from the end of the torch. the flux will start to bubble, that is normal. the flux assists the solder in sticking to hte pipe to make the best seal. heat it till its damn near red. you will see the color change. when it is hot enough, take the solder, lay it on the seam of the joint and make sure the flame is right on the joint. at this time, the solder will be drawn into the joint, therefore sealing it. when it is all sealed and can not take any more solder, it will start to form a small drip. stop, you are done with that joint.

let it cool a few minutes so you wont burn yourself while doing the next one. repeat the same process, and your all done. let it sit maybe 5 minutes, then turn the water back on, and watch for leaks.

this might cost you at most 35 bucks. far cheaper than a plumber.

for that matter, google is your friend.

» ··· 35749917

hell i typed all this then found this. hope it helps.


Sarasota, FL
reply to brandon
Not to make you paranoid or anything but....the water main leading from the meter to my house developed a leak, I knew when the meter reader said hey you must have a leak because your water bill is three times normal, I found the leak, dug it up and it was a pinhole in a copper pipe, I'm a little handy so I cut the bad section out and replaced it, next months water bill was also high....sure enough a couple feet down I had another hole, fixed it and a week later dug up the whole stretch from the street to my house and replaced it with cpvc because, I developed a THIRD pinhole. Don't do a makeshift repair, they can and will turn around and bite you in the wallet HARD.


Wauconda, IL
reply to Anon
said by ninjatutle:

Try to stick some bubble gum under the duct tape.
Haha. reminds me of Vegas Vacation.


Annapolis, MD
reply to brandon
Call a plumber.
When I've seen this, it means you're going to have more such leaks, probably in the same area.
Have him inspect the pipes and replace entire sections, if necessary.

Laurel, MD
reply to brandon
Now if you are in a housing developement that is prone to pinhole leaks like I am.The best thing to do is either have plumbing replaced or call Ace Duraflo,look up on internet.We had many leaks over the years destroying ceiling where they happened.We finally got tired of it and called in ace .What they do is set up their machine(outside compressor) and blow a abrasive thru the pipes then when that is done they blow a epoxy that coats the inside of the pipes and prevents further leaks.We chose that method because of the time it takes and the lesser amount of damage to the house.Only takes 2 days.Then they have gen contractors that repair any of the holes they needed to make,as part of the job.

Richmond, VA
I don't know what it is about the water in your area, but it tears up copper pipes. My brother in law lives in Vienna and had numerous major leaks that did considerable damage. He ended up making so many insurance claims that he was cancelled by his insurance company and had one heck of a time finding anyone that would insure the house. The only insurance he could get excluded all claims from water damage for a period of time that I think was five years. The newspapers have done numerous stories on the problems with corroded pipes in the area around DC. I will mention to him the solution you found.

Domino Dude, POWER Systems Guy
Indianapolis, IN
reply to wetlipsofhell
said by wetlipsofhell :

Similar problem was on one of the "This Old House" episodes. I remember that chubby plumber explaining the problem and cause to Norm in some guys basement.
LOL That would be Rich Trethewey.

Beer...The other white meat.
Not There
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to Kramer
said by Kramer:

I don't know what it is about the water in your area, but it tears up copper pipes.
If you only knew...
I gave up drinking and eating bad food. And in 14 days, I had lost 2 weeks.



1 edit
reply to brandon
Just buy a compression coupler fitting like this » ··· id=65791

choose equiv for US.

Cut the pipe on the hole, put the coupler in place using potable jointing compound and tighten up.

Permanent professional fix for about £1.50 - $3.00.

I used to be a plumbing and heating engineer

Huh? What?
Pasadena, TX
reply to birhat
If you need the whole house done, the Ace Duroflo system is awesome. Whoever came up with that is brilliant (and, I hope, rich).

Sometimes a paradox is just a paradox

Home Depot
reply to brandon
The most cost effective fix is to just put a bucket underneath the leaking pipe. As time goes on the leak will increase but all you have to do is replace the existing bucket with something larger.

If you really want to get fancy, just tap into the bucket with some pipe and create a drip irrigation system for the plants located in and around the effected area.