What Corrosion Is – And How To Prevent It
Without getting too technical, corrosion is a natural chemical reaction that causes materials such as metal to degrade. The most common example is rust, which results from iron or iron alloys interacting with oxygen and moisture in the environment. The copper pipes that comprise most homes’ water supply systems are less susceptible to corrosion than iron or steel, but they are not immune.
Indeed, pipe corrosion is quite common in home plumbing systems and can be caused or sped up by various things, such as hard water, excessive heat, overly high water pressure, sand or grit in the water supply, or the soil around buried pipes. Corroded water pipes can rupture, develop pinhole leaks, contaminate the water supply, and cause damage to appliances and other fixtures, so it’s not a problem to be ignored. This article will outline some ways homeowners can protect their pipes against corrosion.
Use Pipe Coatings or Protective Linings
First up for preventing corroded pipes are coatings and protective linings. These are materials applied outside or inside pipes to protect the metal surface of the pipe from corrosive materials. Common exterior coatings for pipes include paints, lacquers, resins, zinc, aluminum, or plastics such as PVC, polyethylene, or polyurethane.
Pipe linings are applied to the pipe interior to protect against corrosion caused by the water and the minerals and debris in it. Liquid epoxy is often used to both repair and prevent pipe corrosion. This involves cleaning the pipe interiors to remove pitting and corrosion, then using pressurized air to force the epoxy through the pipes, which will adhere to the pipe walls and create a protective seal against further corrosion.
Of course, if corrosion is rampant (as is common in many older homes), another option is to repipe the lines with a corrosion-resistant material such as PEX piping. But either way, it’s always best to consult a plumber to assess the situation and determine the best solution.
Install a Water Softener
Another way to combat premature pipe corrosion is to install a whole home water softener. As the name suggests, a water softener removes calcium, magnesium, and other dissolved minerals from hard water, making it “softer.” Calcium deposits not only can cause corrosion but can also cause many other plumbing problems, including low water pressure, seized valves, and damaged appliances. So the benefits of a water softener go beyond corrosion prevention.
There is a common misconception that softened water causes more corrosion, but this is not true. Naturally, soft water can be somewhat corrosive due to its low pH levels (making it more acidic). Still, the pH level of hard water generally falls within an acceptable range, and water softeners do not significantly affect pH levels. If homeowners are unsure of their water’s hardness or pH balance, they can contact a qualified plumber or local water authority to have the water tested.
Schedule a Plumbing Maintenance Visit
Last but not least, yearly maintenance visits from a professional plumber are crucial for preventing corrosion. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, professional plumbing maintenance involves thoroughly inspecting the plumbing system, so any signs of corrosion can be spotted as early as possible and resolved before the problem spreads or worsens.
Secondly, a professional will perform other maintenance tasks that can help prevent corrosion in their own right. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a rusted water heater tank to release flecks of iron that get stuck in the pipes and cause corrosion, so the seemingly unrelated task of maintaining the water heater can directly help prevent pipe corrosion throughout the entire home.
About Fitzgerald Plumbing
Fitzgerald Plumbing is a local, family-owned and operated company with over a decade of experience serving its neighbors in Lakewood, CA, and the surrounding areas. They provide straightforward pricing, same-day service, and estimates. Call them today for plumbing services in Lakewood, CA.