Plumbing pipes don't last forever. Even the most durable of pipe materials can eventually corrode and begin to deteriorate. Pipe corrosion has the potential to not only increase your risk of developing a leak in your home, but corroded pipes can also compromise the safety of your drinking water supply.
Being able to identify some of the factors that contribute to pipe corrosion allows you to be vigilant in monitoring the condition of your home's plumbing system over time.
1. Water pH Level
Have you had the pH level of your water supply tested? It's important for homeowners to know where their water falls on the pH scale when trying to prevent pipe corrosion. Water that has a pH level below 7 is considered acidic. Your pipes can begin to corrode from the inside out when exposed to acidic water. Copper pipes are especially vulnerable to the type of corrosion caused by acidic water.
You may need to install a water treatment system to adjust the pH level of your water before it enters your pipe system to minimize corrosion in the future.
2. Water Oxygen Level
Pipe corrosion is an electrochemical process whereby the metal material of a pipe exchanges electrons with another substance that it comes into contact with.
Municipal water supplies that are aerated tend to have a higher level of oxygen. The increase in oxygen can accelerate the oxidation process, which results in pipe corrosion. Oxidation, more commonly known as rust, can weaken the structural integrity of a pipe and leach harmful contaminants into your drinking water.
3. Water Hardness
Some water contains trace minerals that can wreak havoc on the condition of your plumbing pipes. Water with a high mineral content is usually referred to as hard water. If any of these minerals are metallic, your pipes could experience a form of damage known as galvanic corrosion. Electrons transfer from metals with a high electron count to those with a low electron count during the galvanic corrosion process.
The best way to put a stop to galvanic corrosion is to install a water softener that will remove trace minerals from your drinking water. Eliminating these minerals eliminates the potential for electron exchange between your pipes and any metallic particles in your water supply.
4. Electrical Grounding
Your home's electricity system must be grounded in order to control the flow of electricity throughout your residence. An ungrounded electrical current could find its way into the ground by traveling down an exposed plumbing pipe. Exposure to a stray electrical current initiates a corrosive process known as electrolysis.
Copper pipes are particularly vulnerable to electrolysis since an electrical current can cause the molecular structure of the copper to break down and disintegrate.
5. Water Velocity
The speed at which water travels through your plumbing system is known as water velocity. High-pressure water tends to travel at a fast rate of speed when moving through a series of pipes. The constant exposure to high velocity water can cause your pipes to begin deteriorating prematurely. This is especially true when the temperature of the high velocity water supply is extreme.
A pressure regulator can be installed at your water meter to help lower the pressure of the water being fed into your plumbing system. Lower water pressure is associated with a lower water velocity, making a pressure regulator a valuable tool in protecting your home against pipe corrosion.
Taking care of your pipes is the best way to ensure your plumbing system is functional and reliable. Be mindful of the factors that can contribute to pipe corrosion, then take action to help combat these corrosive factors to extend the life of your pipes. Reach out to a local plumber to get more advice.