REGARDING PATCHWORK REPAIRS
What is a patchwork repair?
Initially inexpensive and less time-consuming, patchwork repairs are a popular choice among property managers aiming to control their pinhole leak situation. Most commonly, plumbers apply patches using screw clamps on the outside of the copper pipe. These clamps hold self-fusing silicone tape securely around the exterior surface of the pipe. Water flow to the area of pipe being patched is halted throughout the process.
Why do patchwork repairs fail to solve the problem?
Patchwork repairs are just that: patchwork.
A patchwork approach is not a complete solution, nor a long-lasting solution. Your patch will eliminate one pinhole leak. But it will do nothing to solve the hundreds that are sure to occur in the future, until the lifespan of your copper pipes expires. A single pinhole leak is a marker of interior deterioration not only in a single location, but throughout your pipes. Addressing one leak may provide temporary relief – but it also leaves you, the property manager, with a 100 per cent guarantee – that is, the guarantee of an exponentially increasing number of leaks in the future.
Patchwork repairs will never provide you with the peace of mind of a complete solution – the Rikos solution.
Do patches have any other downsides?
If saving money, keeping your tenants in a positive frame of mind, and maintaining the value of your domestic high-rise are important to you, then the answer is yes. Patchwork repairs are often the catalyst for more substantial issues in the future.
Patches are messy:
Silicone repairs require that the plumber first locate each pinhole leak before any mending can begin. That means moving tenants’ furniture and cutting drywall until the leak is pinpointed. It also means the added risk of property damage, and additional repair work to walls and floors after the pinhole leak is fixed. The plumber applying patches may have to spend a considerable amount of time in various suites, tracking mud, dropping tools, and inconveniencing valuable tenants.
Patching one leak causes others elsewhere:
The pressure on copper pipes caused by screw clamps places added stress on neighbouring portions of pipe, which can lead to future pinhole leaks or more costly pipe fractures. Similarly, thermal shock due to the emptying and refilling of isolated portions of your hot water recirculation system is liable to produce pipe fractures and further deterioration, and headaches, down the road.
Patchwork repairs are inexpensive in the short-term, but costly down the road:
While the initial cost of epoxy-lining appears more exorbitant than patch jobs, the financial burden of repeat repairs and an inevitable re-pipe will always be present. Patching will never increase the lifespan of your copper pipes, which means eventually you will find yourself troubling residents all over again as walls are torn down to replace the entire system.
WHY DO BUILDERS USE COPPER PIPES IN THE DOMESTIC HOT WATER SYSTEM?
It’s relatively inexpensive. It’s pliable, capable of being bent in nearly any direction. And in the case of the hot water recirculation system in your domestic high-rise, it is likely partly recycled.
Copper piping is still the lifeblood of hot water systems across Canada, after more than a half century. If your high-rise is younger than 25 years old, it is extremely unlikely your hot water is circulating through anything but copper piping. The discovery of lead leaching into hot water supplies, combined with the brittle metal’s inability to support water pressure required in larger buildings, lead to a surge of copper use in Canadian hot water recirculation systems in the mid-twentieth century.
The world’s demand for copper increased over 300 per cent in the years between 1949 and the close of the century.
Because there is no limit to the number of times copper and copper alloys can be recycled, it remains a significantly greener option than other metals or non-metallic materials, such as plastic. Because copper is 100 per cent recyclable, much less energy is consumed recycling used metal than converting copper ores to copper metal for use in piping.
Copper is typically resistant to corrosion caused by exposure to gases or liquids. Upon contact with water within your domestic hot water system, the inner wall of the copper pipe develops a protective carbonate layer which will assist water flow and allow for a typical service life. Certain factors, such as improper water balance, chemically-treated municipal water supplies, or a “water hammer” effect created by poor engineering and system design break down or prevent the development of this carbonate layer, causing pitting in localized areas – leading to your pinhole leak problem.