Plumbing Problem in Folsom, CA: Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

Plumbing Problem in Folsom, CA: Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

By: D. Keith Dunnagan, Esq. and Allison Blake, 2L

June 15, 2021

Sellers and real estate agents both owe a statutory and common law duty of disclosure to buyers of residential real estate. The law requires that known defects likely to affect price or desirability must be disclosed to the buyers. Nearly ten years ago, the big plumbing issue that dominated the disclosure world was the defects related to pex plumbing (what was generally referred to as Kitec plumbing). It was so big that a major class action settlement resulted providing relief to some of the early cases of damage resulting from the faulty pex plumbing issues.

Now here we are again with another potential major localized plumbing issue affecting a broad population base. During the summer of 2020, pinhole-sized leaks began to appear in copper plumbing pipes in homes located in the city of Folsom, California. Around 1,150 people were affected by these leaks, costing affected Folsom residents thousands of dollars in damage.

Initially, the cause of the problem was unclear. Some pointed their fingers at the pipes themselves, while others claimed it to be an issue with the water quality. The City of Folsom released a study explaining that the potential cause was likely a water purity issue, combined with a high pH level and the use of chlorine. As of October 8, 2020, the city began to resolve the problem by adding a non-harmful acid to the water that would act as a barrier to avoid leaks. However, many residents believed that the treatment was too late, as they had already incurred significant damages from the leaky pipes.

In August 2020, there were 680 pinhole leak occurrences. This occurrence has dropped largely, with only four pinhole leaks occurring in May 2021. Although the occurrences appear to be decreasing, the leaky pipes present a problem for property owners, specifically related to the disclosure of the problem upon the sale of the property.

Problems that arise after the sale of a home are not required to be disclosed to the buyer if the seller was not aware of the problem. However, there are many issues in determining when the problem arose and whether the seller actually knew. If a seller has previously repaired the leaky pipes, they should disclose this to the buyer. A future leak in the piping could give rise to a legal cause of action to the buyer if the seller fails to disclose this. A seller located in Folsom may also be charged with knowledge of the problem, despite the leaks never occurring on their property. What we saw with Kitec plumbing issues was the Kitec disclosure, which effectively told buyers that the house was constructed during the time of prevalent use of pex plumbing and that buyers needed to satisfy themselves on the suitability of the plumbing components. The same may be true in the Folsom issue. There has been a broad enough problem that it may for a time period be common to see a disclosure related to the pinhole plumbing leaks. Buyers would do well to investigate and agents (both selling and buying) should be advising clients related to this potential defect.

The City of Folsom is offering a waiver (or reimbursement) of permit and inspection fees for all repairs relating to the pinhole leaks. For more information, visit

The information presented in this article is not to be taken as legal advice. Every situation is different. If you are facing a legal issue of any kind, get competent legal advice in your state immediately so that you can determine your best options.

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