leaky pipes in attic crawl spacce

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Old 03-05-19, 10:26 PM
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leaky pipes in attic crawl spacce

Our 60 plus year old one story slab foundation house has the hot and cold water pipes run through the attic crawl space.

Last Oct. one sprung a tiny leak....of course by the time we noticed it it had dripped through the ceiling, damaged the sheet rock. Insurance paid for the whole check for mold, check for asbestos, water damage restoration song and dance. Paid for sheet rock repair and painting. A large section of the pipe that leaked was changed out. (Of course plumbing, leaking pipe, wasn't paid for by insurance.)

So tonight, about 5 months (to the day?) later another part of our ceiling completely crashed down....another water pipe leak in a different location. Tiny hole that obviously had been leaking for months.

So I am getting a little nervous....are we going to have our pipes spring a leak every few months?

Should I have every readily accessible pipe in the attic crawl space replaced?

They are copper pipes. No idea how old they are.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 03:28 AM
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It sounds like new piping would be a good idea. At bare minimum I'd get in the habit of going into the attic every few weeks to check on things. It takes a good bit of water to damage the drywall enough for it to fall.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 05:30 AM
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Copper pipe walls don't thin measurably in normal use during the lifetime of homes. Leaks develop from manufacturing defects, not thinning walls.If I was going to replace the pipe in the attic, I would use type M copper or PEX. Also, there are many water leak monitors (accumulated water completes an electrical circuit) that can alert you to accumulating water or even closing a valve on the water line. To capture the water from a leak, I would place lengths of 2-3 inch DWV over the copper pipe (slotted for pipe diameter) so the leaking water had to drip out the bottom, I would place plastic pans under the DWV pipe to catch the water. I would place a leak monitor in each pan and connect them to one alarm control.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 06:04 AM
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Copper can be thinned by galvanic corrosion, by turbulence, and by minerals in the water that act as abrasives. There is much written on this subject.

There is often no rhyme or reason as to when or where it might occur. Hard to say what your best course of action should be. Total replacement seems like overkill but it probably is the only way to "guarantee" this doesn't continue to occur.

That being said, I replaced some copper (maybe 4 feet or so) for a friend where some elbows and pipe had sprung pinhole leaks. House was about 40 years old at the time. A few months later, a few more showed up. Since then, nothing. It's been 15 years or more since then, no problems with any of the rest of the pipes in the entire house... just that one spot behind their washing machine, close to their shutoff valve.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 06:11 AM
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I have to disagree. Where I live copper pipes are a big problem. The water chemistry dissolves/erodes copper over time thinning the pipes from the inside out. Eventually leaks start becoming more and more frequent. The only solution is to replace all the plumbing since the water is attacking all the copper piping in the house. This is generally easy to spot by any decent plumber as the metal in the pipes can become paper thin.

Another possibility is that you are simply having bad luck and it's just a semi random leak. Fixing that leak might keep things good for a long time.

Then there is yet another situation where copper pipes can be eroded from the inside by installation errors such as not deburring the cut ends of the pipe and the flux used when solering the pipes. Here is a This Old House video describing the situation. Unfortunately these situations can affect the whole house and replacing all the piping might be the best solution.

When replacing any piping my choice is for PEX. It is not affected by water chemistry. Is easy to install and is highly resistant to damage from freezing.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 08:53 AM
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Thanks everyone....all good advice, even though (of course) some of it is contradictory.

Just to vent....we had new insulation put in the house over 10 years ago. I am certain it is good stuff, but it is loose material...crawling through this ???? shredded ??? insulation is horrible...the stuff goes everywhere, hard to push aside to see the pipes under it..horrible stuff. And when a leak occurs and the ceiling falls down...down comes tones of this messy shredded insulation! Even just to crawl up there to check for leaks every few months I'd dread...what a mess!

Anyway I like the water leak monitor....have to find out more about that.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 09:32 AM
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If you are on well water and you have very acidic water that can cause pinhole leaks. Iím on well water and my pipes (copper) were being eroded from very acidic water (ph=5.5), although I didnít experience pinhole leaks, but the pipes were thinning.

If you are on well water I would get it tested. You could add an acid neutralizing filter (I did) and it will stop the erosion. But if you are on municipal water instead, then acidic water wouldnít be your problem.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 10:09 AM
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Another vote for a PEX upgrade. You'll never feel right fixing the ceiling and wondering when the next leak will occur.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 10:24 AM
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Tight spaces are made even more difficult because of the insulation you mentioned. With fiberglass batts I've had good luck with a RC 4x4 truck. At each end of the run I gain access. Tie a piece of string onto the RC truck and drive it across the insulation to the other end. Then use the string to pull the new wiring or PEX piping so you don't have to have someone make the long crawl. If I ever have to do it across blown insulation I think I'll try a RC Snowcat.
 
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Old 03-06-19, 10:50 AM
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I was reading about PEX piping....I can't remember the details but seems there were some issues with PEX....it unfortunately wasn't a magic cure all...at least from my initial research. I even talked to the plumber about it... I can't remember exactly what he said, it seemed to be the same thing....yeah..it sounds nice, but it has problems also?????


They can send a man to the moon, but they can't make a hot and cold water pipe for a house that doesn't corrode over time!!!!! Or just some magical rubber....tape...sealant...to wrap the pipes in so they won't develop leaks!
 
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Old 03-06-19, 12:11 PM
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AFAIK, nothing wrong with PEX.

You have old school plumbers who never like anything new. You also have certain areas where the unions won't allow certain things and their influence is so great that some municipalities won't allow certain things. Then you have building inspectors who often have a say in making the rules and they are often real blockheads about new things as well, like it's a good ol' boys club.
 
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Old 03-07-19, 11:03 AM
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Having run into the pinhole copper leak issue in a prior home, I've become a big fan of PEX.

You can go crazy researching the pros and cons of any piping system (or any home system for that matter), you'll always find issues with one type over another, and someone else who has been using the first option for years with no issues. At the end of the day, a well-installed plumbing system in either Copper or PEX will last for many years.

I too would probably start changing over to PEX since you've already had two leaks. There are probably more to come
 
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Old 03-07-19, 01:09 PM
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There was a problem 20+ years ago with a plastic piping product called Quest which many people confuse with PEX. I install PEX in all my rental houses and have it in my home and have far less trouble than with the old copper, CPVC or galvanized steel.
 
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