How to Tell if Your Pipes are Corroding

Amazing! How to Tell if Your Pipes are Corroding

Information about How to Tell if Your Pipes are Corroding

Phil Puccio

Unless a plumbing problem is obvious – like a clogged toilet or leaking water heater – it tends to go unnoticed. That is of course not a good thing. Undetected problems in the pipeline will result in damage to anything that comes in contact with the resulting water leak – such as drywall, subsoil, flooring, foundation slabs, etc. Of course, identifying early signs of problems can help prevent major damage and the cost of repairs involved .

As we covered in our blog post – “Why are my pipes leaking?– Corrosive pipes are a common cause of leakage as the inside of the pipe walls can corrode or rust over time. This is faster with hard water, high pH (acid) or particularly high water pressure. Because pipes corrode, they cannot withstand the pressure or force of the water flowing through them. Eventually, this pressure and force can create a leak in a particularly corroded section.

Telltale Signs of Corrosion to Look Out for

So how can you tell if your pipes are corroding? With most of the pipes in your home out of sight, they’re usually out of mind, but keep those pay attention to the following, courtesy of the good folks at Sage water:

Low water pressure Low water pressure is an indicator of badly corroded pipes. As corrosion builds up in the pipe, the flow of water is drastically reduced to faucets, shower heads, and more.

Empty backups Corrosion of your drain, sewer and ventilation (DWV) pipes can lead to major blockages and even complete structural failure. Slow-draining water, odors, and debris are symptoms of a corroded DWV piping system.

Extreme fluctuations in hot water temperature Hot water pipes corrode faster than cold water pipes. Due to the corrosion in these pipes, deposits accumulate in the anti-scald components of sinks, bathtubs or shower valves and cause excessive fluctuations in the hot water temperature.

Discolored water Brown or red tinged water is a sign that your pipes are corroding. If the inside of the pipes rusts, metal will flake off the pipe, causing the water to discolor.

Chronic Leaks As pipes start to fail, leaks can become more common. Repairing a leak without investigating the cause (like a DIY repair can do) won’t solve the bigger problem in the long run.

Loud plumbing Your plumbing system should work quietly. Rattles, clicks, knocks, and groans in your piping system are caused by fluctuations in pressure or temperature – which is a big warning sign that something is wrong.

Some visible signs of corrosion – Check out your exposed piping for evidence – for example, a bluish-green tint on copper pipes. Rust-colored powder on your pipes, discoloration of any kind, flaking and pits also indicate corrosion.

What causes pipe corrosion?

There are many factors that cause corrosion. Older pipes are prone to corrosion, but newer pipes can also corrode quickly. ER Services plumbing provides the following most common reasons:

Low pH – If the pH of your water is acidic or neutral, copper tubing can corrode quickly. A value of 7 stands for a neutral pH value. Values ​​below 7 indicate the acidic nature of the water, and values ​​above 7 indicate alkalinity. An alkaline pH of the water forms a copper oxide film on the inside of copper pipes, which minimizes corrosion. However, if the pH is neutral or acidic, your copper tubing will corrode quickly because the copper oxide layer will dissolve – which can lead to pinhole leakage. Read on to learn more about copper pipe corrosion.

Oxidation and water temperature – Your water system is constantly replenished with oxygen-rich water. This means that air has been dissolved in the water, which consists of about 30% oxygen and 70% nitrogen. Nitrogen is not corrosive, but oxygen corrodes metal through a process called oxidation. This is when the metal is converted to oxide (rust), and the metal becomes thinner and weaker as more of it rusts. As corrosion progresses, rust builds up in the pipes. Rust is not smooth, and the nooks and crannies of this uneven surface attract and trap contaminants in the water, causing them to build up in the pipes. Eventually, the metal becomes thinner and prone to leakage and breakage.

It is also important to understand that the oxidation process increases with high water temperatures – therefore, hot water pipes corrode faster.

Water speed too high – In a closed pipeline system, flow obstacles such as B. excess solder, erosion corrosion occur. Improperly soldered connections are more prone to corrosion.

Chemical drain cleaner – Drain cleaners can solve your problem right away, but they can cause great damage to your pipes. Be careful not to make a habit of using drain cleaners to clear up your clogs, as they will do more damage to your pipes in the long run.

A few words about copper pipes

Most households in the United States have copper tubing, which has been used for plumbing systems and domestic water supplies since 1963. However, copper pipes are prone to corrosion. There are three types of copper pitting corrosion:

Type I – This type of corrosion occurs when you have hard to moderately hard water (at a pH between 7 and 7.8). Cold water pipes are more prone to this type of corrosion.

Type II – This type of corrosion occurs when the pH of the water is below 7.2 and the hot water temperature is above 140 ° F.

Type III – This type of corrosion occurs in cold water with a pH above 8. This type of corrosion may not cause a pipe rupture, but it can cause discoloration, by-product release, and pipe clogging problems.

A few words about galvanized pipes

Galvanized pipes are steel pipes that have been dipped in a protective zinc coating to prevent corrosion and rust. This type of piping was commonly installed in homes built before 1960. When they were invented, galvanized pipes were an alternative to lead pipes for water pipes. However, minerals present in the water react with the pipe, resulting in mineral build-up. This in turn leads to corrosion.

A few words about polybutylene pipes

Polybutylene is an inexpensive, flexible plastic which was used for pipelines in residential buildings from 1978 to 1995. However, it is extremely prone to breakage (which ultimately led to a class action lawsuit) and as such is no longer accepted by US building codes. If your pipes are made of white plastic and have the letters “PB” on the printed label, you have polybutylene pipes. We recommend replace them immediately.

The take-home message

Now that you know the tell-tale signs, your attention won’t stop your plumbing pipes from corroding, but you will contact us if you see (or hear) signs of problems before more damage occurs. Our Master plumber at Adam and Son plumbing pride themselves on serving Central Florida homes and businesses with the highest levels of quality and experience for over 60 years. We are a family business and all of our plumbers are state-certified master plumbers. You can always rely on us to keep your sanitary facilities in top repair!

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