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If you have copper water lines, Consumer Watch offers advice .

by Andy Treinen, Lousiville, KY

(WHAS11) What started as a little bitty problem no bigger than a pin hole, has turned into a huge plumbing nightmare for some Kentucky families. If you have copper water lines, pay close attention to this weeks’ Consumer Watch with Andy Treinen.

On the outside, Shelby Hamill’s Crestwood home looks rock solid, but when you walk through the door and look up, it’ another story. There’s a hole here, a patch there, a stain in the ceiling over there and new drywall here and there.

It all started with one pin hole in her copper plumbing. "And then, we had another one, and another one, and another one, and we had a total of about 13 or 14," explained Hamill.
Hamill is not alone. Kathy Shoen started having copper problems at her home just over a year ago. "A pinhole leak; it’ all over really, basically that’s what they said. It’s a chemical reaction," recounted Shoen when explaining her conversation with a plumber.

Shoen sprung a new leak in a different room every three months. Four different plumbers estimated between $4,000 and $7,000 to fix the plumbing alone. "Their solution was, your whole house has to be re-piped and we"ll have to cut into your walls," said Shoen.

Hamill had multiple leaks in her living room, kitchen and basement, which is plumbed with a second kitchen. Re-piping would require extreme demolition. "They wouldn" even give me a price," claimed Hamill.

Copper is failing in many Louisville homes and no one has a good handle as to why, but now there’s a new option for fixing it without replacing it. "Each one of these lines is hooked up to a different fixture in the home," explained A.J. Nieman, who owns Restoration Piping Technologies; a company that flushes, sands, and seals copper plumbing.

The beauty of this process is that it allows you to clean out your lines, sand your lines, and put an epoxy inside your lines, without ever cutting through the walls. "A lot of this process was developed by the government in the late 1980s on naval ships, where they had copper water distribution centers welded in the outside of the hull of the ships," said Nieman.

In the video story, you can see what the epoxy looks like while it’s being blown through your pipes. The process takes a couple of days and you won’t have water while it’s happening. It costs between $8,000 and $12,000. "It comes with a 10-year warrantee, which to me is not good enough; I wanted more, a better warrantee than that," protested Shoen; but Shoen does say it’s cheaper and quicker than re-piping your whole home, while your walls remain intact.

For Hamill, the reality of no more leaks is worth paying for. "It’s such a relief; so now I’m ready to get a dry-waller in here now and fix these problems, once and for all," said Hamill.