Copper Corrosion Problem in Household Plumbing: A Case Study
Beginning in March 2001, the City of Kearney, Missouri, began receiving reports of leaks in household plumbing. Over succeeding months, owners of at least sixteen homes reported the development of pinhole leaks in copper piping. The majority of the homes affected were in a
localized subdivision where homes were on the order of 10 to 14 years old.
A common feature of the reported leaks was that they occurred almost exclusively in the copper
lines used in recirculating hot water systems. Cold water lines were generally not affected,
although one homeowner reported the need to also replace cold water lines.
Damage to those homes experiencing leakage was significant owing to the pinpoint spray in
spaces hidden by drywall or ceiling.
Questions were raised about the nature of the pipe failures, the plumbing methods used, and
the quality of the copper pipe used. Questions were also raised about the quality of the water
delivered by the City of Kearney. Was it corrosive to copper and, if so, what remedial steps
could be taken to reduce the rate of corrosion in the future?
The engineering report is available in the two attached pdfs: