Copper Water Pipe Question ? And, Insur. Coverage ?

Hello,
Would be most grateful for any opinions on this. Would like to get your opinions prior to calling Insur. Agent.
Read my Homeowners policy, but truly hard to understand.
I had a household water pipe apparently "eaten" away by whatever is in the water over the last 30 years or so. Tempted to call it corrosion, but this might not be the right word.
A little disconcerting about what the water was/is eating away in me, but that's another matter I guess.
Anyway, a leak developed. House was apparently plumbed with the thinner wall Copper water pipe.
Had to have a Plumber, and also a Plasterer, and a new paint job for the damaged ceiling.
Would like to know a bit more re if this kind of damage is covered by the typical Homeowners Policy before contacting the insurance agent.
Or, is coverage (usually) only for a sudden, catastrophic happening, and this "over-time" damage would likely be excluded ?
Any caveats to your opinion ?
**How "common" are these pinhole size leaks ? Are the problems mainly in the thin wall Type M tubing, or happens in any of the other wall sizes also, as the K and L thicknesses ? What is thought to cause, etc. ? Is it mainly a defect in the pipe, or external causes ?
And,
Is Type M Copper pipe, the thin wall stuff, for internal water house use utilized anymore for new construction ? Where ?
Still Legal ?
Much thanks, Bob
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On 1/26/2011 7:43 AM, Bob wrote:

Sounds like my house of 35 years. Had 2 leaks, over 10 years ago. Plumbers did not say pipe was too thin although there is thicker pipe and blamed it on well water. But, I read, copper pipes should be good for 60 years and I have not had a leak in 10 years. No water damage but plumbers were an expense.
As for insurance, I had a burst frozen pipe which damaged ceiling. Insurance company paid for water damage but would not pay for plumbing repair. With large deductible and crap from the insurance company, it was hardly worth making the claim.
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I agree, you should try to get an estimate. If it's not much more than your deducatable you are better off not filing a claim.
I've never seen copper pipe that leaked due to the water condition but I have heard about it from time to time. A lot of people think it is also contributed to by a manufacturing flaw in the pipe that resulted in a weak spot to start with. I wouldn't worry a lot about what it does to you, the contents of your stomach would make short order of copper pipe.
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I agree with Frank. Unless there is a bunch of $ over the deductible I would not file a claim and at best they will only pay for the damage, not the plumbing. They may require all kinds of stuff including all new plumbing to continue insurance. They will also enter this into the industries national database, potentially making it harder for you to get insurance from another company. Sneaky, conspiring bastards aren't they.
Back to one of your initial questions, they can take the attitude this is not a "casualty event" but is normal wear and tear.
In this locality the lightweight stuff is still used though many homes are using PEX and CPVC.
Colbyt
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“Would like to know a bit more re if this kind of damage is covered by the typical Homeowners Policy before contacting the insurance agent. Or, is coverage (usually) only for a sudden, catastrophic happening, and this "over-time" damage would likely be excluded ? Any caveats to your opinion ? “
The only thing I can say about any kind of insurance is make sure you completely read and understand the fine print or contract before you sign.
“**How "common" are these pinhole size leaks ? Are the problems mainly in the thin wall Type M tubing, or happens in any of the other wall sizes also, as the K and L thicknesses ? What is thought to cause, etc. ? Is it mainly a defect in the pipe, or external causes ? “
Abrasion due to a hot water circulating pump can cause it also. If the pipe ends were not de-burred that may cause it as well.
“And, Is Type M Copper pipe, the thin wall stuff, for internal water house use utilized anymore for new construction ? Where ? Still Legal ?”
In some cities only type K is allowed. Any plumber with any sense of pride would never use type M for anything other than a condensation drain line. I don’t trust plastic no matter what anyone says. They’re always finding something wrong with it twenty years later when it’s too late to do anything about it.
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Where exactly did the pipe fail, and was the pitting more or less uniform in that area or was it localized?
R
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Pinhole leaks in copper piping can often be caused by the initial installation of the plumbing... The plumber assembling the pipes used way too much flux on one of the connections and a glob of it made it into the inside of the pipe...
It will continue being flux on the inside of a pipe slowly eating away at the inside of the pipe, causing a disturbance in the protective layer of oxidation that will form on the inside of the pipe...
If you local water is treated especially harshly with chlorine that can accelerate the corrosion process...
~~ Evan
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On 1/26/2011 7:43 AM, Bob wrote:

It really depends upon your insurance policy and insurance company. In the early 1980s, we came home from a 2 wk winter vacation to find water gushing out of our front door. The house had oil fired circulating hot water heat and we had not shut off the water main before we left. (Never did THAT again.) Turns out the furnace ignition transformer failed, pipe under the kitchen sink froze and burst, and then after the thaw, spilled 60,000 gallons of water (according to the water meter) into the house. $30K damages including warped hard wood floors, all wallpaper peeled off from the humidity, ruined upholstered furniture, etc. etc. Our insurance company paid every penny, (including the water bill) except for the furnace repair. They even paid for the 2 nights in a motel and outside meals when we were told by the contractor that there would be toxic fumes associated with finishing the new hardwood floors. Bottom line: If your loss is more than your deductible plus about 6 mos. policy premium, give the company a call, clarify your coverage, and consider filing a claim.
You may want to examine the web page at: http://www.toolbase.org/Building-Systems/Plumbing/copper-pinhole-leaks
It appears to be authoritative and includes a section on repair options - including epoxy lining treatment.
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Noted that one common piece of advice was not to fix if the cost was close to your deductible. The only comment that I can add is that if in the course of repairing the plumbing it was noted that something could not be repaired "as is" because it was no longer up to code. Most policies will pay for the repair if it is required to bring your system up to code. In my case, during the repair of water damage in a bathroom, code required the installation of a dedicated GFI circuit and an exhaust fan (both of which I didn't have). That morphed into my main circuit panel being replaced to accommodate the extra circuits. All paid for by the insurance company. Worth a check---- MLD
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MLD wrote:

Hmm, How about testing the water? Copper pipe should last more than 30 years.

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Well its probably too late if its already fixed, insurance companies prefer to see damage BEFORE regular repairs are made.But dont mind emergency stuff
Making any claim wll likely raise your rates, and if another loss occurs may make you uninsurable:(
I have to wonder how is the remainder of your plumbing?:(
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*Several years ago some friends of mine wound up replacing all of the copper pipes in their house. They had pinhole leaks showing up for years. They showed me sections of the old pipe that were paper thin. Their water supply is from an artesian well on their property that feeds into the house via a plastic line. Apparently something in the water was eating away at the pipes. They had an elaborate filtration and softener system installed to stop the deterioration. Have you had your water tested?
I remember some plumbers a few years ago had mentioned that there had been a batch of bad copper pipes that came from south of the border. Those pipes developed pinhole leaks within a few years. A salesman at a plumbing supply that I use confirmed the issue. I have not heard of that problem lately.
Usually you contact the insurance company before you make any repairs. Unless you have pictures, how will the adjuster know what was actually damaged?
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To the advice already offered, I'd add my comments on the following:
"Would like to know a bit more re if this kind of damage is covered by the typical Homeowners Policy before contacting the insurance agent. Or, is coverage (usually) only for a sudden, catastrophic happening, and this "over-time" damage would likely be excluded ?
What you actually have, is both. The insurance company would not pay to replace the pipe if it slowly deteriorated over time and failed resulting in a drip that you saw and you had to just replace the pipe. But they will pay if that failing pipe causes sudden damage, which is what you do have.
Like many others have said, I'd look at the deductible first. It's not unusual to have a deductible of $1000 or $2000. IMO, you should have a high deductible exactly for this reason. You save enough money each year so that is something small comes along, you just pay for it, avoid having to deal with the insurance company, risk having rates go up or cancelation, etc.
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FWIW, don't file a claim. Insurance companies refuse to renew customers after as little as one claim...and it doesn't even have to be a large claim.
The best thing to do is just buy tornado/hurricane/fire insurance with a high deductible. Anything else is a waste of money because if you use it, you'll likely land you in the ranks of the uninsurables.
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