Folsom officials investigating mysterious pinhole water leaks in pipes flooding homes

·3 min read

Some on social media are calling it a pinhole leak apocalypse.

A rash of Folsom residents have reported tiny, pinhole-size leaks appearing in their copper pipes in recent weeks, causing in some cases thousands of dollars worth of water damage.

City officials and Sacramento-area plumbers are aware of the surge in complaints, but are still trying to uncover the cause of the water leaks that have burst open pipes across Folsom.

Over the course of a week, three pinhole leaks in the pipes of Teresa Elliott’s garage started spilling water, creating “a huge mess.” She wasn’t the first on her block to have pipe troubles.

Her neighbor two doors over had never had a leaky pipe until three weeks ago, when two holes appeared in pipes over consecutive days. A neighbor around the corner has “so many leaks, they’re going to have re-pipe their entire house,” Elliott said.

“It’s just super weird that there’s this big uptick,” she said.

Elliott’s plumber said there are a couple of possibilities for the pinhole pipes. One is that the copper pipes installed in her house are a thinner, cheaper variety that wears out more quickly.

Mike Schlumpf, a manager with Armstrong Plumbing in Sacramento, said anything from water pressure issues to construction errors to worn-out pipes could be behind the apparent surge in pinhole leaks.

“Some of this stuff is normal,” Schlumpf said. “Houses wear out, people don’t get plumbing inspections to do” frequent checkups.

Still, the increase in service calls to Folsom is unusual, he said.

“It is unique in that it seems to be happening a lot very quickly in a small area,” Schlumpf said. “For us to do three or four a week, which has kind of been going on, it’s weird, but it could just be coincidence.”

Another culprit for the pinhole leaks in pipes? Elliott’s plumber suggested it could be a change in the water’s composition that erodes pipes more quickly. Some residents have raised similar questions on the popular Facebook page Folsom Chat about the water.

Two weeks ago, Deepa Patel’s garage was flooded when water started pouring down from a copper pipe in the ceiling that had a pinhole leak. The water damage and pipe repairs combined cost nearly $3,000 even after paying deductibles, she said.

When a plumber came the next morning to fix the plumbing, he mentioned the pipe may have burst because of high chlorine levels in the water. He tested the water and founded elevated chlorine levels, but couldn’t say for sure what caused it, Patel said.

The cause of the increase in pinhole leaks remains a mystery.

The city’s environmental and water resources department is investigating the “multiple reports” of pinhole water leaks, with officials now sampling the water and inspecting sample copper pipes.

“City engineers are examining potential causes, including quality and age of the pipe materials, installation methodology and workmanship, unexpected foreign debris in the copper pipe, mixed metals in the plumbing, and water composition,” the city said in a statement.

Folsom has “has not made any changes to its water treatment process” recently, according to officials, and city engineers aren’t aware of a connection between the drinking water and the pinholes in the copper pipes.

The city plans to release an update when there’s more information or results to share, according to city spokeswoman Christine Brainerd.

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