Understanding the Causes of Pipe Corrosion – and How to Prevent It

Picture this: You’re about to kick off the day with a nice, hot shower, but when you turn the knob, only discolored water comes out. Or perhaps you’ve spotted an unexplained wet patch on the wall, indicating that there’s likely a hidden leak nearby.

These inconveniences often point to a serious issue: pipe corrosion. And it’s not just a problem affecting old homes. Even relatively new pipes can corrode if the conditions are right. So, as a homeowner, it’s in your best interest to understand why pipe corrosion occurs and how to prevent it. Here’s what you need to know.


What is Pipe Corrosion?

Pipe corrosion is a potentially severe wear-and-tear issue affecting many homes. It happens when galvanized steel and copper pipes start breaking down due to a chemical reaction inside their structures. Clean water, wastewater, and other substances poured down the drain can all trigger the corrosion process.

When copper pipes corrode, you will likely see blue stains on your sinks, bathtubs, and plumbing fixtures. If the problem is bad enough, your laundry might even have a blue tint. This strange color is due to the oxidized copper in the water.

Galvanized steel pipes typically turn the water reddish-brown from the rust inside the pipe surfaces. As the rust spreads, it can eat through the pipe material, resulting in costly leaks practically anywhere in your home.


Common Causes of Pipe Corrosion

Pipe corrosion is a common occurrence in both residential and commercial buildings. This problem can occur for many reasons. For example, fresh, clean water can cause corrosion due to its dissolved oxygen content and pH imbalances. When that happens, the copper will start to oxidize and leech into your drinking water.

Wastewater, on the other hand, might contain various chemicals, pollutants, and even microorganisms that can corrode the pipes. Additionally, drain cleaners, beauty products, and other substances poured down the drain can result in corrosion. Over time, the rust thins and weakens the metal, eventually eating right through its surface.


Best Ways to Prevent Pipes from Corroding

Although pipe corrosion is a silent yet persistent problem, you’re not powerless to stop it. A wise preventative step is having a plumbing professional inspect the pipes now and then, to spot issues early. They will let you know if there are any signs of corrosion and recommend ways to halt the problem in its tracks.

Other ways to prevent pipes from corroding include:

  • Water Treatment: This method involves adjusting the water quality to reduce its corrosive potential. The treatment process controls pH, hardness, and chemical concentrations to slow down or prevent corrosion. This not only ensures your plumbing lasts but also improves how your water tastes and feels.
  • Cathodic Protection: This innovative approach diverts corrosive activity from the target pipe to a metal anode. It’s particularly effective for preventing corrosion in underground pipes. Once correctly set up, the metal anode will corrode, protecting the pipes from corrosion.
  • Pipe Lining: This involves giving the pipes an internal coating to protect them from corrosive elements in the water. Epoxy resin is the most popular coating material, although other options exist. The lining serves as a barrier between the metal and corrosive agents, extending the lifespan of your pipes.

While it might seem like a dramatic step, switching your home to PEX plumbing virtually eliminates worries about pipe corrosion. The flexible plastic tubing doesn’t corrode like copper and steel and is also resistant to mineral buildup.


Need Help with Pipe Corrosion? Give Our Team a Call

Whether you need to resolve pipe corrosion problems or would like to prevent them, our team at Pilot Plumbing can help. We’re your go-to plumbing professionals in Conroe, Texas, and for good reason.

Our team has years of experience in diagnosing, repairing, and upgrading plumbing systems of all kinds. We make it easy to book your visit, too. Just call our team at (936) 788-6829 or fill out our online form to get started.


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