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By Danny Ritz

Water quality is often judged on a scale considering only it’s consumption and exposure safety. While health and safety is certainly of the utmost priority, what is in the water can have dramatic out-of-body impacts.

A current issue facing many tri-city homes today is the plague of pin-hole pipe leaking, causing massive amounts of damage to South Orange County homes.

San Clemente, Laguna Niguel and Ladera Ranch communities have had the most substantial impact.

For decades, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has added what are called “chloramines” to municipal water as a “disinfectant”. These disinfectants, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, are responsible for killing any live bacteria in the water that has grown while in transit to homes from local municipal distributors such as South Coast Water District, which supplies water to much of South Orange County. Although, all water serviced by local municipalities regularly meets and exceeds current state and federal safety regulations and there is very little or no conclusive scientific evidence to support that these disinfectants have any direct adverse health effects.

However, a conclusive negative consequence of these additives is the creation of devastating pin-hole leaking caused by the corrosive reaction of the chloramine and copper piping widely used by developers in the region.

Brandon Taliaferro of A-Z Plumbing in San Clemente, a multi-generational plumber and son of Bill Metzger who is the owner and operator of Bill Metzger Plumbing in San Clemente, said the overwhelming presence of pin-hole leaks is causing havoc in the tri-city area and a large part of their home projects.

“We see new cases every day,” Taliaferro said. “I’m answering more and more of these calls as ‘newer homes’ are exceeding their 10-year developer warranties and require my services when leaks arise.”

Fortunately, Taliaferro said that viable preventative options do exist. These include epoxy pipe-linings that coat the interior of existing pipes as well as an alternative plastic “Pex” pipe material that is resistant to corrosion. Difficult to forecast, Taliaferro encouraged being attentive within the community and suggests preemptive professional inspection if neighbors are encountering pin-hole leaking.

“I think we could all agree, it’s better to catch a small leak than return home after a long weekend to see your home floating down the street,” Taliaferro said.

Taliaferro also said the best preventative action a homeowner can take is to install a residential water filter. Chris Edmondson, owner of Chicks Plumbing in Capistrano Beach, said his preferred product for water filtering is the Halo Water System, which filters out contaminates and synthetic additives before entering a residence.

“The municipalities are solely focused on water safety” Edmondson said. “We have extraordinarily hard water, and like any mainstream water distribution system, we are likely to encounter contaminates such as medical and natural wastes in addition to the disinfectant additives.”

Edmondson and Taliaferro both independently support the proactive approach of in-home filtration.

“Sure, damage could already be done, but if you are a home or business owner, you can help reduce future damage and increase your peace of mind with installations such as these,” Edmondson said.

With starting costs hovering around $3,000, a residential water filtration system could seem like a daunting investment, but rebuilding costs can easily surpass that tenfold if left without maintenance.

Find out more about pin-hole leaking or about A-Z Plumbing services at www. or Chicks Plumbing at

Read more about design in this special section titled, “Inside/Outside” here:

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