Folsom Pinhole Water Leaks: Bonney Plumbing Insight

As you may have heard in recent news, homes in Folsom have been reporting pinhole leaks in their pipes. This issue has impacted roughly 220+ homes since mid-July. Understandably, the Folsom pinhole leaks have created widespread confusion and concern. In alignment with our commitment to serving the plumbing needs of our community, the experts at Bonney are here to provide insight and answer common questions relating to Folsom pinhole water leaks. 

What is a Pinhole Water Leak?

Pinhole leaks are when corrosion inside of copper pipes eats through to the outside. These are small, pore-like abrasions—hence the name “pinhole.” This may cause gradual leaks at first, but the water loss can intensify as the pipe damage becomes more severe. 

If you have never heard of pinhole leaks, you are not alone. They are not widely common because they occur only in copper pipes. Even within copper pipes, their occurrence is rare. This is what makes their recent prevalence in Folsom so notable. 

What is Causing Folsom Pinhole Leaks?

The cause of these leaks has not yet been identified; however, the City of Folsom is investigating this issue closely. Primarily, they are investigating three potential sources of the pinhole leaks:

Potential Pipe Issues and Pinhole Leaks

Folsom is investigating the pipes themselves, including the age, composition, installation, and quality of the copper pipes in question. This investigation will reveal if the leaks are related to a certain brand or supplier of copper pipes common in Folsom. 

They may also find that all of the copper pipes in question are aged significantly. Copper pipes have a lifespan of 20-50+ years, and abrasion can be expedited by hard water (such as that found in and around Sacramento). A widespread coincidence is certainly rare, but not impossible. 

Potential Water Issues and Pinhole Leaks

The most common fear with the recent surge pinhole water leaks is that there may be a complication with the Folsom water supply. The City of Folsom has confirmed that the water is safe to drink and that it meets all of the applicable safety standards and regulations. Nonetheless, the City is closely monitoring and investigating the water supply to ensure that nothing abnormal or harmful is present. 

Potential Mixed Metals or Debris in Plumbing and Pinhole Leaks

Some metals simply do not work well together. If an individual connects dissimilar metals in their plumbing system, it can create galvanic corrosion. As explained by the American Galvanizers Association, this process involves two connected dissimilar metals in a single corrosive environment. One of the two metals will experience increased corrosion as the other experiences galvanic protection from corrosion. Which material corrodes and which material is protected? It depends on how high the two metals are on the galvanic series of metals. The more noble (cathodic) metal will be protected by the less noble (anodic) metal. 

For example, inexperienced plumbers or DIY enthusiasts may think that stainless steel and copper can work well together, as they are both durable and corrosion-resistant materials. However, because stainless steel is a more noble metal than copper, the copper can begin to corrode at an accelerated rate, sacrificing itself to the stainless steel. This can happen with even the smallest dissimilar metal connection, such as bolts, screws, fasteners, and others. 

Similarly, the pinhole water leaks could be caused by unexpected foreign debris or another unknown corrosive material reacting with the pipes’ metal. The City of Folsom is investigating any potential materials that may have been present in affected pipes.

What Is Folsom Doing About Pinhole Leaks?

The City of Folsom is working with forensic experts from Virginia Tech University to inspect the pipes that have been impacted by the pinhole leaks. They are also working with experts from the engineering firm Black & Veatch to examine the water composition. The City of Folsom expects the forensic results to arrive near mid-September—you can read their full release here.

Do I Have Pinhole Leaks In My Pipes?

It is natural to wonder if you have been impacted by the pinhole leaks in and around Folsom. First, it is helpful to know whether or not you have copper pipes. If you do not have copper pipes, your home is safe from pinhole water leaks. For homes that have copper pipes, it is essential to keep your eyes out for signs of corrosion and any excess water leaks. 

The small nature of pinhole pipe damage can make it difficult to detect for untrained eyes. If you are unsure or concerned about the plumbing in your home, the experts at Bonney are here for you. Make an appointment with our professionals for a plumbing inspection. We can check your plumbing system for damage to let you know if your copper pipes are showing signs of corrosion or pinhole leaks. 

Can I Prevent Pinhole Pipe Leaks?

The source of the Folsom pinhole leaks is still unclear, which can make prevention tricky. However, if you have a newer plumbing system or one that has not yet been impacted by pinhole leaks, there are preventative steps that may help keep your pipes protected. One way to prevent pinhole leaks is by having a water system installed. Hard water can contribute to pipe issues and pinhole leakage. Water systems work to combat the impacts of water hardness. Read our guide to water systems here

Another way to prevent pinhole leaks is to reduce the friction and turbulence of the water in your pipes. If your pipes are too small or your water velocity is too high, your pipes may be experiencing heightened friction. Contact the plumbers at Bonney to have your water velocity examined and adjusted—you may also opt to have larger pipes installed. 

Similarly, frequent twists and turns in your plumbing system can also heighten corrosion. Do you have elbow fittings close together in your copper pipes? As water travels through them, it will have to rapidly change directions. Think of the difference between a water slide that dramatically loops versus one that offers straight-shot. A more turbulent water pathway will wear down your pipes. Thankfully, an expert can rework your plumbing system to remove stressors that may cause pinhole pipe leaks. 

Finally, you can reduce your risk of experiencing a plumbing problem like pinhole leaks by getting annual plumbing maintenance. An expert will visit your home each year to ensure that all of your plumbing systems are working as they should. This will help you prevent a wide range of plumbing issues. An expert can also detect any imminent issues and repair them before they become a problem.

What Should I Do If I Have Pinhole Water Leaks?

If you find pinhole leaks are present in your home, you will need to contact the City of Folsom’s Water Quality Division at 916-461-6190 or email waterquality@folsom.ca.us. They will advise you on the steps you need to take to comply with their ongoing investigation. If you notice a leak in your home, turn off your water supply immediately. This can help you reduce the water damage your home incurs. If you suspect any danger, contact emergency services immediately. If it is safe to proceed, clear any electrical hazards from the path of the leaking water. Next, clean up any small water leaks, or contact an expert if the water leak is extensive.

When you are ready to have your pipes serviced or plumbing repaired, Bonney can help. We offer a full range of plumbing services to resolve any issues you may be experiencing.

Bonney Plumbing Is Here For Folsom

The plumbing experts at Bonney are keeping an eye on this situation so that we can continue to serve the needs of our local communities. For plumbing inspections, water damage, renovations, repiping, or any other professional plumbing service you may need in Folsom, contact the professionals at Bonney Plumbing today.