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Question DetailsAsked on 1/22/2015

pinhole leak in straight copper pipe, hot water line appropriate repair by plumber

WE had a pinhole leak in a straight hot water pipe in our kitchen. Everything in my kitchen has been ripped out to the studs. The plumber used soldering just the pinhole, with silver, without cutting the pipe. Another construction company was in my home and said that was not the best way to fix it. The original company that fixed it, says it is the best way to fix it. Now after reading on Angie's list, I'm concerned by not taking the time to cut the pipe, we don't know the condition of the pipe and if it will happen again. Over this leak, I lost the use of my entire kitchen. It's been 3 weeks, and likely to be another 6 weeks until I get my kitchen back, not to mention the cost. Our water heater is grounded.

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    Voted Best Answer

    You need a new plumber, in my opinion, though I don't remember anything in the building code that specifically prohibits what he did, for normal household pressure water pipe at least.

    Without cutting it, there was no way to see if this was a random manufacturing defect hole, or an indication of erosion or corrosion in a significant length of pipe - or possibly some of the defective manufacturing pipe from about a coupleof decades ago which tends to pinhole in many places over time.

    Silver soldering the hole is a quick and dirty fix that one might do for the short-term - say for a midnight repair, to hold for a week or so till you can do it right, but definitely not proper for a permanent repair. Even if it was a flux pinhole at a joint, one should take it apart and redo it properly with a new fitting, not try to repair the solder joint.

    At a minimum, he should have cut out about 1/4-1/2" of pipe (centered on the hole) and then inspected the cut ends for any signs of thinning or corrosion. If OK, then he could have soldered a sleeve coupling or union to reconnect the pipes. If not OK, then one should continue cutting pipe out till the bad parts are all gone.

    When I am doing this type of repair I recommend cutting out as much as I can reasonably reach from there, because if it is new pipe leaking I assume that pipe may have other similar defects, and if older pipe why not spend the extra $20-40 bucks or so in materials to put a new piece in place of the old bad one now - so at least you hopefully will not have trouble with that particular section again while you live. Personally, if the kitchen was ripped out to studs and this house is over about 10 years old, I would have replaced all the water pipes and any metal drain pipes in the kitchen, or at a minimum everything accessable due to the tearout, so you would have new plumbing in that part of the house at least - even if you had to pay for the pipe replacement yourself as opposed to insurance coverage, which you probably did not get anyway if this was a long-term slow leak, which it must have been if you had to tear out the entire kitchen.

    If this pipe is still exposed, or reasonably accessible (even if it means cutting into new drywall) I would get it fixed right by another plumber - maybe check out reviews on one recommended by the contractor who noticed it and said tht was not the right way to do it, because he seems to have an interest in people who do the job right so a plumber he recommends is likely to have the same philosophy.

    Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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