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    Steve: Pin hole leaks in copper pipe is more common than you may think. You mention there is no sign of electrolysis ???
    Here are some facts that I have come across over the years in dealing with this type of pipe failure.
    The process that is responsible for the pin hole phenomenon has a rather
    pretentious name: “Electrochemical Decomposition”. It is also referred to as “Electrolysis”. Without using confusing technical terms, I will try to explain very briefly what happens inside your piping system…how it happens…and why it happens. I will also provide you with some answers on what can be done to deal with the results of electrolysis.
    There are three things needed to create a pin hole in a pipe………..
    1.) A metallic pipe (Copper) with a liquid (Water) flowing through it.

    2.) An “Electrolyte”, in this case the water is the electrolyte. An electrolyte is simply a liquid that has the ability to conduct an electrical charge.

    3.) And a very very small amount of DC electrical voltage. The electrical energy
    needed to fuel this pipe destroying process is so small that a very sensitive
    meter is required to detect its’ presence. This voltage is typically rated in “Milivolts” or thousandeths of one volt.

    Where ever there is a disparity in electrical potential within your piping system,
    Mother Nature will set about the business of trying bring things into perfect balance and harmony. To accomplish this task, copper electrons are stripped from the copper atoms that make up the walls of the pipe. These ions (positively charged copper partcles) start toward the electrically deficient section of piping in an attempt at bringing electrical equalibrium within the piping system. Unfortunately this plan does not succeed, and the copper that has been leached from the walls of the pipe
    form copper compounds with other minerals found in the water. These new copper
    compounds generally produce blue/green stains.
    When enough ions are removed, a pin hole will appear.
    You also mentioned that the leaks seem to be limited to the cold water lines. This is typical of electrolysis failure, the hot water piping has had the benefit of the water traveling through the water heater . Inside ths water heater is an anode that has been placed there by its’ manufacturer to protect against tank failure from pin hole leaks. The water that passes through the heater imparts some of that protection to the hot water piping as it travels through.
    As the other respondent mentioned
    there is phenomenon known as erosion corrosion. This type of failure is noted mostly in hot water recirculating lines, especially where there are changes in direction of the flow. Next time you have a failure, cut a small section of pipe that had the leak, and send it to our address listed below and I will be happy to identify the cause and in most cases provide a solution for the problem.
    Bud
    Suncoast Plumbing http://www.copperknight.com

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