Pipes allow water to travel into your home, and they can also carry other substances such as natural gas and propane. Unfortunately, all this hard work can wear down your pipes over time, making them corrode.
For those who don’t know, pipe corrosion refers to the breakdown of the structural material that comprises your pipes via oxidization, chemical reactions, or electrical problems. There are countless types of pipe corrosion, so there isn’t one way to treat the problem. In this guide, you will learn about the types, causes, and treatment of pipe corrosion.
Common Piping Materials
There are a few types of materials that builders commonly use when they are constructing a gas, water, or drain line. All these materials break down in different ways, which is why there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Some of the more common materials are iron, copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), galvanized steel, polyethylene, and polybutene. Pipe manufacturers will use different materials depending on the setting, such as commercial, residential, or industrial property. Since it’s so durable, galvanized steel is the material of choice for transporting oil, gas, and chemicals.
The Early Signs of Corrosion Damage
When your pipes fail, this should be the first sign that you might face a corrosion problem down the line. Some other things you should watch out for are leaks and water damage to the pipe’s exterior.
If your plumber doesn’t repair your pipes properly, this could also lead to corrosion. High rust deposits and thread leaks are a few other indicators that should tell you corrosion is taking place.
The weakest point on any pipe is the thread, so this should be the first place you look if you’re searching for a leak. Although it might not look like much, a pipe thread leak could lead to the total collapse of the system if the problem worsens. When the leak is small enough where the evaporation rate is greater than the loss of water, mineral deposits will form, such as iron oxide. This will corrode the pipes.
Tuberculation: A Ticking Time Bomb
Tuberculation is an internal rust deposit that serves as a ticking time bomb for your pipes. These deposits are typically a byproduct of steel corrosion, and they will appear lighter and less dense than other corrosion types.
Internal deposits like tuberculation can lead to greater pitting than ones on the exterior. Pitting means that the metal material is beginning to hollow out.
Finally, corrosion can lead to damage to your pipe’s insulation, so you should be on the lookout for it if you want to avoid damage. Due to the condensed humidity, the moisture in your pipes will wear down the insulation, which is why insulation damage is more common for cold water pipes than warm water ones.
Galvanic Corrosion: Its Causes and Treatment
With so many different forms of pipe corrosion out there, it can feel like there are just as many causes of pipe corrosion as there are types. Being aware of these different types and their causes will help you prevent your pipes from experiencing catastrophic failure.
The first type of corrosion we will look at is galvanic corrosion. This process takes place when two or more types of metals fuse together and interact with corrosion conditions that already exist in your pipes.
This type of corrosion is more common in water processing systems and condensers than in residential plumbing systems. Usually, the primary cause of galvanic corrosion is when a steel pipe galvanizes with its brass valve connections.
You will start to notice a deposit near the valve with a blue or green hue. To treat this problem, you may want to try replacing the pipe with a dielectric fitting.
The reason why this is an effective solution is that galvanic corrosion creates an environment similar to a battery due to the two metals and the acidic solution. A dielectric fitting will insulate the two metals and prevent electrolysis.
The Causes and Treatment of Weathering Damage
As you can guess, weathering damage occurs when a pipe corrodes due to the weather. Snow, rain, and other atmospheric conditions such as high humidity can corrode your pipes. Thankfully, this is one of the most preventable types of corrosion.
If you expose your pipes to the weather, then you will see the corrosion, allowing you to react to it in real time. Also, weather damage usually takes decades to cause any serious damage, giving you plenty of time to prevent it.
Most of the time, pipe damage from the weather is due to a lack of maintenance. Therefore, the best way to treat your pipes for weather damage is to make sure they’re covered and to wipe off any deposits as they begin to form. You should reach out to some trustworthy plumbing contractors in Northern California if you suspect your pipes suffer from weathering damage.
The Dangers of Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion
The most severe form of corrosion is microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC), which is when bacteria damages your plumbing. This is also one of the more expensive types of corrosion to treat because your pipes will have to undergo repeated cleanings and extensive sterilization to fight the bacteria. Unfortunately, your plumbing system will most likely need a total replacement if it gets contaminated with microbiologically influenced corrosion because the pitting will be so deep.
What You Should Know About Under Deposit Corrosion
Some people refer to under deposit corrosion as cell corrosion. No matter which name you prefer, it usually results on the metal surface of your pipes. In certain instances, the pitting from under deposit corrosion will go throughout the entirety of a pipe’s surface.
On the other hand, sometimes the pits will be in highly concentrated areas, leaving the rest of the metal surface untouched. Reducing mineral deposits is the best way to treat this phenomenon because it will allow chemical inhibitors to reduce corrosion.
Overall, pipe corrosion can be devastating to your plumbing, but knowing what to look out for will help you avoid the worst of it. Now that you know the different types, causes, and treatment of pipe corrosion, make sure you reach out to plumbing professionals as soon as you start noticing suspicious rust.