John O'Connor

Pit Happens: Copper Corrosion in Household Plumbing

Blog Post created by John O'Connor on Feb 5, 2011

Copper Corrosion Problem in Household Plumbing: A Case Study


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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.