Why is Electrolysis Eating Away At our Water Mains NYC?

Over the previous 18 months homeowners across NYC have been experiencing an increase in water main leaks due to electrolysis. The first question most of our customers have is “what is electrolysis and why is it happening?”

It is most important to understand that electrolysis is caused by an underground electric current leak which is essentially eating away at our water mains. The holes are known as “pitting” and are usually the size of a pinhole. Another bi-product is a greenish tint over the copper pipe.

Pitting from electrolysis

Pitting from electrolysis

The million dollar question is why are we experiencing an influx of water line leaks due to electrolysis? After many meetings and research nobody has been able to identify the exact reason for the increase in electrolysis leaks. Some say it is due to the way that the utility companies are installing the new services however, this has yet to be proven as factual information.

In most cases the water leak with result in a violation from the DEP requiring the homeowner to replace the water main within 3 days or the water will be shut off by the city. Understandably it is hard for the average homeowner to understand how this is their responsibility, when up against a 3 day notice there really isn’t much of a choice. Most people comply to avoid loss of water and try to fight after the fact.

Electrolysis leak results in 3 day notice

Electrolysis leak results in 3 day notice

Recently on 188 St. in Queens a large group of homes started to experience water main leaks out of nowhere. The interesting part is that another section of homes on 188 St. we’re having the same issue 6 months prior and it seems as if the DC current leaks were traveling and spreading below ground for miles.

Digging for pipe replacement

Digging for pipe replacement

Another section of NYC experiencing the same issue is Ave D in Brooklyn. A very similar scenario to 188 St where the DC electric current leak continues to spread and impact many homes on Ave D.

Pitting on a brand new copper pipe

Pitting on a brand new copper pipe

Two other locations which have been experiencing a large number of electrolysis leaks are Winchester Blvd in Queens and 8 Av in Manhattan.

How can you prevent electrolysis?

There is no guaranteed way to prevent electrolysis from eating at your pipe but there is a standard procedure which has had great success. The copper pipe should still be installed as required by DEP but it should be installed inside of a plastic tubing, which will serve as a shield to the copper.

Copper pipe inside plastic

Copper pipe inside plastic

If installed the right way there is a good chance you will never suffer from an electrolysis leak again, at the same time we still suggest that all homeowners file complaints just in case there are any future issues. This way you will have information documented and will assist in your argument.