Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing Blog

The Sneaky Enemy of Your Pipes: Pinhole Leaks


Hidden plumbing leaks in a house can account for a massive waste of water. While you quietly enjoy your home life, pipes hidden in floorboards and walls might be taking money from your wallet and even causing damage to the building. 

This is why hidden leak detection is an essential plumbing service in Frederick, MD we offer. If you have any suspicions about a rise in your water usage, call us to check for hidden leaks. 

In this post, we’ll examine one of the sneakiest of all hidden leaks: pinhole leaks. As the name indicates, these are tiny leaks—but that doesn’t mean they won’t create problems for you.

What Are Pinhole Leaks?

The term pinhole leak doesn’t simply mean any leak in a pipe that’s extremely small. Pinhole leaks have a specific cause, which is a type of corrosion that occurs in copper piping. Copper replaced steel and iron as the main metal for residential plumbing for several reasons, and one is that copper resists corrosion. But it isn’t corrosion-proof. A reaction with chemicals in the air or water in the pipe causes formicary corrosion, which is what leads to pinhole leaks.

The exact causes of formicary corrosion aren’t fully understood, but it appears that it’s linked to the volatile organic compound formaldehyde. Unfortunately, formaldehyde is common in homes and difficult to eliminate. It creates corrosion not only in copper pipes but also on air conditioning systems’ refrigerant lines. Formicary corrosion creates small, grayish spots along the copper that weaken the metal enough that high-pressure water inside will start to drip out—and you have a pinhole leak. 

How to Notice Pinhole Leaks

You’re probably wondering how you can detect something so small so you know to call for plumbing help. Unfortunately, that’s one of the big challenges pinhole leaks create for homes. 

You aren’t totally helpless when it comes to discovering your plumbing may have pinhole leaks:

  • Keep a watch on your water bill to look for an increase in water usage that doesn’t fit your normal patterns.
  • Warping in floorboards and spots of discoloration on the walls or the ceiling often warn of water building up. 
  • You can perform a test with the water meter. Shut off all water-using appliances and don’t use any water in the house for an hour. Then check to see if the meter has changed. If it has, there’s a leak somewhere.

When in doubt, our plumbers are here to help.

Fixing Pinhole Leaks

We often work at detecting and repairing pinhole leaks, and we’ll ensure we get the job done quickly in your home with minimal disruption. We’ll use the most advanced leak detection equipment (acoustic listening devices, thermal scanners, pipe cameras) to pinpoint the leaks. We can then reach the damaged area with a minimal amount of excavation and remove the leaking position and replace it. When we’re done, you’ll have a water-tight house once more.

At Tuckers Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, we pledge to exceed expectations at every turn. Call us for all your plumbing needs.