Like every other thing in the world, copper pipes don’t last forever.
With their durability and longevity, copper pipes have become one of the most used fixtures in residential plumbing. They can withstand harsh conditions and last for over 50 years. Their impressive strength allows them to endure long-term exposure to pressure.
Copper pipes remain superior to other types of plumbing pipes, but they have their limitations too. Under certain conditions, they get damaged and are not resistant to pipe corrosion.
If you have copper pipes at home, we’ve gathered the essential things you need to know about pipe corrosion.
Causes of Pipe Corrosion
Many things can lead to water pipe corrosion, including:
1. Low pH Level
Groundwater from wells and surface water from creeks and springs have low pH levels, which indicates acidity. They contain an abundant supply of hydrogen ions that accelerate corrosion.
Acidic water dissolves the oxide barrier between water and copper pipes. After the barrier fully dissolves, the acidic water does the same to copper pipes, making them vulnerable to corrosion.
2. Improper Installation
Pipe corrosion can also result from improper installation. When the ends of the pipe are not correctly de-burred or reamed during installation, they become susceptible to corrosion. Additionally, using too much acid flux when soldering the copper pipes also leads to severe corrosion.
3. High Dissolved Oxygen Levels
Nitrogen and oxygen are two of the dissolved gases present in water. While the former doesn’t corrode pipes, the latter has the potential to do so. Through the oxidation process, oxygen causes rust development on the surfaces of copper pipes.
4. Grit, Sand, and Sediment
The accumulation of grit, sand, and sediments causes hydraulic wear on copper pipes. Specifically, it’s the chemical constituents of soil that react with the unprotected surfaces of pipes, which results in pipe corrosion.
5. High Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) Levels
TDS levels are the amounts of organic matter and inorganic salts found in the water like calcium, chloride, magnesium, sulfate, and hydrogen carbonate. When there’s an elevated level of these substances in the water, different problems arise, including scale buildup, water quality impairment, and corrosion.
Some bacteria, such as sulfate-reducing bacteria, are one of the primary causes of pipe corrosion. They utilize the hydrogen formed and accelerate the rate of corrosion.
7. High Velocity
The interior walls of pipes are exposed to greater shear stress when the water flowing through them has high velocity. It strips away the protective film or inhibitor from the walls, increasing the rate of corrosion.
How Does Corrosion Impact the Quality of Water?
The impact of corrosion on the quality of water varies. It depends on the severity of corrosion.
Some things you may observe when there’s corrosion in your plumbing system’s copper pipes are:
- Turbidity or Cloudiness
- Impairment in Taste
- Strange Odors
There are also conditions where corrosion increases copper and lead levels in the water. Ingesting too much of these substances leads to serious health problems, including kidney and liver disease.
How Does Corrosion Impact Copper Pipes?
Water pipe corrosion leads to higher risks of:
- Breaks and Damages
In some cases, interior corrosion in pipes causes clogs that seriously damage faucets, sinks, showers, and other plumbing system components.
You may also experience a decrease in water pressure when there’s corrosion in your plumbing pipes.
How to Clean Copper Pipe Corrosion
It’s essential to treat corrosion to keep your water safe and clean.
It’s recommended to call plumbing experts who know how to clean copper pipe corrosion, but you can do some preliminary cleaning by following these simple steps:
For Exterior Corrosion:
- Apply metal polish on the pipe. Make sure to follow the instructions given on the product label.
- Let the metal polish sit for a few minutes.
- Scrub the pipe.
- Wash with water afterward.
Note: If there’s no available metal polish, you can use a mixture of flour, white vinegar, and salt.
For Interior Corrosion:
- Remove the remaining water.
- Pour a gallon of white vinegar down your drain pipes.
- Let the vinegar do its magic — let it sit for about half an hour to loosen up the calcium deposit in the pipes.
- Use a long-handled brush to remove the buildup.
How To Prevent Copper Pipe Corrosion
Learn how to prevent copper pipe corrosion to avoid problems in the future.
Here are some preventive measures you can do:
1. Watch Your Water
Always check your water at home to prevent pipe corrosion. Make sure that the water isn’t acidic and doesn’t contain high levels of dissolved solids.
2. Keep Bacteria Away
Since there are lots of corrosive bacteria present in water, it’s wise to clean copper pipes regularly with biocides or inhibitors that can kill the corrosive bacteria.
3. Add Protective Linings or Coatings
Add layers of coating to protect copper pipes from hydraulic wear. You can also add some insulation to protect them from damage caused by contact with other metals.
How A Better Plumber Can Help
At A Better Plumber, we provide an array of plumbing services, including pipe repair, maintenance, and installation.
Our plumbers in Denver, CO, can inspect your pipes and determine the best course of action if you’re dealing with pipe corrosion.
Regardless if they need repairs, maintenance, or replacement, we have you covered. For inquires about our services, feel free to reach out to us. Contact us today!