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Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

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  • Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

    We had a pinhole leak in the bathroom about a month after a Watts recirc pump was installed. The leak was very close to where the bypass valve was installed in the master bath. The pump was on 24/7 for the first few weeks and then I adjusted it to a few hours in the morning and afternoon before the leak. Or it could have started earlier and taken a while for us to notice.

    After we do all our repairs, I'm afraid to start using the pump again. Could the leak have been caused by using the pump? The previous homeowners replaced the poly pipe with copper about 2 years ago. A plumber who looked at the leak said that type M was installed.

    Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I love having the hot water come on faster, but not if this is the result. Another possibility is that maybe the person who installed the valve jiggled the pipe too much? Or a bad joint?


    - SD Radius

  • #2
    Re: Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

    Most likely a bad joint. A few jiggles can do that. Failure to ream will occur around 17-20 years.

    Oh turn your recirc back on and enjoy the water...that did not cause the leak.
    Last edited by Kevin Jones; 06-21-2010, 08:43 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

      what is with all the engineers from san diego the last month?

      you installed the watts comfort series recirc. that uses a manifold for the circ. back into the cold, correct?

      those pumps are very, low head. plus the pump hooks up at the water heater and the bypass manifold is connected with water flexes.

      did you keep the bad pipe/ fitting? any chance to post a photo?

      the pump circ. might have aggravated a joint that was bad from day one. type m is legal and will not wear out in 2 years. the problem was there from day 1 and the circulation with constant hot water just exposed an already bad joint.

      say high to all you fellow engineers down south

      phoebe it is


      • #4
        Re: Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

        I don't see a lot of recirc lines in residential settings... don't deal with them much in general, as I am a drain specialist, not a plumber or hvac guy, but I thought I'd chime in.

        The constant flow from a recirc line can cause bad joints, particularly ones that were not reamed, to fail. I've also seen them tear up 90's. they tend to have more flow than they need to keep the hot water available, and cause turbulence at bends leading to pinholes.

        Was the pinhole at a solder joint? Or in a fitting or a piece of pipe proper? The ones I've seen have all been at 90's, in the fitting itself.

        Rick's buddy (can't remember his nick...rookie plumber?) makes a flow restrictor that cuts down the flow of the recirc pump to a more reasonable rate. If the pinhole was in the fitting itself, you might want to think about a restrctor (cheap and easy). Though sometimes the turbulence from an unreamed pipe will translate to the fitting it is soldered into and erode at the fitting.

        If yours failed at a joint, it was probably just a bad or not reamed joint.

        If it was in a run of pipe, was there any steel strapping or other steel touching the pipe? Steel touching copper makes a dielectric reaction that will eat a pinhole into the copper after a few years.
        This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.


        • #5
          Re: Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

          Hey Ace,
          Did you ever take my VFC (Velocity Flow Control) for a test drive?
          And to anyone that is interested, if you are experiencing pin hole leaks in hot water return lines send me a PM and I'll send you some info on how you could possibly eliminate this problem.


          • #6
            Re: Pinhole leak related to Recirc pump install?

            I'm embarrassed to say no, I never have installed it; it's sitting on my table where I set it down months ago.

            The one customer I have who has problems with that has not had any issues since the last time I replaced a 90 for them, and has since found that there were some jacked up components in their system that were pumping a ton of water through the recirc...their restaraunt is in a huge complex, and there is a temp control valve that heats their domestic hot by porting it to the boiler for the heat and domestic hot for the whole building. That valve was seized part open, and their recirc pump was toast and water was flowing wherever it wanted past that... they were getting toilets filling with (very) hot water, etc. Anyway, that stuff has been fixed and no more problems since, and I've not run into it anywhere else.

            I know a couple of guys who do mostly boilers, and I may just give it to one of them as it doesn't look like I'll ever use it.
            This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.