Ceiling Pipe Leak

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24HEPB BLOG – Ceiling Pipe Leak

Jun 2017

We received a call from a home owner reportedly hearing a strange high pitch whining noise at night very intermittently from her ceiling. We informed her that it could quite likely be the sporadic vibration of a hot water pipe and that it was not necessarily cause for alarm, we advised her to keep a watchful eye out and call again if it progressed. Two weeks later we received another call from her this time from water dripping from the ceiling. So we went out and found this

water dripping through gyprock ceiling

Water accumulation from a leaking hot water pipe bend in the ceiling

The cause of the problem was a tiny (infact microscopic) hairline fracture in a bend of a copper hot water pipe. Her off peak hot water system was heating the water between 1am – 4am and during this process was slightly increasing the pressure in the copper hot water inlet pipes. Through this pipe crack at the slightly higher pressure hot water was escaping at a very slow rate, but spraying out in an erratic hose like fashion.

copper pipe bendSo we set out to fix the problem. First we turned off the water to the house. Then we drilled a hole in the ceiling gyprock to catch the accumulated water in a bucket and tip it outside without flooding her carpet. Then we cut a larger hole in the gyprock to gain access to the pipes. Once done, we could confirm the location of the leak.

We clamped off the pipe and cut out a 90 degree bend section containing the crack, as displayed in the figure left.

Copper Joining

To fix the pipe we installed a new bend section of pipe. The issue is in the join. One method to join copper pipes is to use a braze weld as shown below.

Brazing

cp_weld

Crimping

This however is not a particularly convenient method for pipe joinery in confined, fitted or housed locations. So we instead employed a new technique of crimping as shown below.

cpcrimp
crimp2

An example of some of the crimping tools available from your local hardware or plumbing supplier.

crimptool

Manual

electriccrimp

Battery powered

The Result

Once we installed the new pipe segment, we turned the water back on and it was job done. The rest of the work now is the clean up. Now in this case the home owner claimed the cost of the repair through her home and contents insurance. Her insurer was Alianz, they sent in a team to install a new gyprock ceiling and some cleaning costs as well as new felt for her pool table that got some water and dust damage!

Here are some images of the pipes after we had fixed the pipe, and then after the ceiling repairs.

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