How to Prevent an Electrolysis Leak on Your Water Main

Copper tubing has become the most commonly used material for a water supply system since the early 1960’s. Most people are under the impression that copper tubing lasts forever and in most cases copper tubing should last for 70 years.

Homeowners across the Five Boroughs have been experiencing pinhole leaks in their copper tubing, which has been caused by electrolysis. Electrolysis occurs when there is an underground DC current leak from an underground electric source. These small pinhole leaks (also known as “pitting”) may take years to surface before anyone is aware that there is a problem.

"Pitting"

“Pitting”

Recently in Queens and the Bronx there have been reports of neighboring homes having to replace their water mains 2-3 times over a two year period. In one case there is a row of five homes in the Bronx that had replaced their water main twenty three times over a period of eighteen months. Unfortunately most homeowners do not become aware of a leak caused by electrolysis until they experience the second leak in a short period of time.

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Preventing leaks from electrolysis

Recently a homeowner in Queens had experienced the second water main leak within a four month period. They were completely baffled as to how this was possible, they too were under the impression that they would never have to replace their newly installed copper water main.

First sign of the leak

First sign of the leak

After the plumber obtained all information about the second leak, he became aware that one of the neighbors had experienced the same exact issue and quickly diagnosed a problem caused by electrolysis.

The new water main was installed inside a plastic tubing which would be used to fight off any underground DC current leaks.

Installing copper in plastic tube

Installing copper in plastic tube

Install is complete

Install is complete

The point where the new copper tubing connects to the city water main AKA “the water main swing”, was protected by sheet lead as it is more challenging to bend the tubing as required when installing at the city main.

Applying sheet lead

Applying sheet lead

Sheet lead installed over copper

Sheet lead installed over copper

This Queens homeowner was now safe from any future water main leaks caused by electrolysis. The water main was successfully installed and the roadway was permanently restored within two days.

Final restoration of the roadway

Final restoration of the roadway


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