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How Does Pipe Corrosion Take Place?

causes of pipe corrosion

Pipe corrosion is a significant issue that can lead to costly damage and plumbing system failures. Understanding the causes and processes of pipe corrosion is essential for homeowners and property owners. In this blog post, we will explore the various factors that contribute to pipe corrosion, the signs of corrosion to look out for, and the preventive measures that can be taken to tackle this problem.

What Are the Causes of Pipe Corrosion?

Pipe corrosion is a complex electrochemical process influenced by several factors. Some common causes of pipe corrosion include:

Water Chemistry

Corrosion can occur when the chemical composition of the water is corrosive or has low pH levels. Acidic water can dissolve pipes from the inside, leading to corrosion.

Oxygen Levels

Higher oxygen levels in water can accelerate oxidation and the formation of rust in metal pipes.

Water Velocity

Excessive water flow or high water velocity can cause erosion, leading to premature wear and corrosion of pipes.

Chemical Composition

Certain minerals or chemicals present in water, such as high mineral content, can cause galvanic corrosion and stimulate a corrosive reaction.

Soil Conditions

The properties of the soil surrounding the pipes can impact corrosion. Aggressive or corrosive soils can expedite pipe deterioration.

Electro-chemical Reactions

Galvanic corrosion can occur when dissimilar metals come into contact with the plumbing system, creating an electro-chemical reaction that leads to decay.

What are the Different Types of Pipe Corrosion?

Here are some of the common types of pipe corrosion:

Uniform Corrosion

It occurs due to a chemical or electrochemical reaction and leads to the gradual thinning of the pipe material over time.

Pitting Corrosion

It occurs when a small area of the metal becomes anodic while another part acts as a cathode, resulting in accelerated corrosion in the anodic regions.

Galvanic Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion occurs when two, unlike metals, come into contact with an electrolyte (e.g., water or moisture).

Crevice Corrosion

Crevice corrosion occurs in localized crevices or gaps on the pipe surface, such as at joints, flanges, or under deposits.

Selective Leaching (Dealloying)

Selective leaching corrosion, also known as dealloying, involves the preferential removal of one or more elements from an alloy, leaving behind a porous residue.

Erosion Corrosion

Erosion corrosion occurs when the metal surface is subject to decay and mechanical erosion combined. It often arises in high-velocity fluid flow situations, leading to the accelerated degradation of the pipe material.

Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC)

Stress corrosion cracking occurs under the simultaneous influence of tensile stress and a specific corrosive environment. It can lead to the development of cracks and subsequent pipe failure.

What Are the Signs of Pipe Corrosion?

Detecting pipe corrosion early is crucial to prevent extensive damage. Here are some common signs of pipe corrosion to be aware of:

Discolored Water

When you turn on the tap, brown, blue, or green water can indicate corroded pipes. Different metals produce distinct discoloration in the water.

Unusual Smells

Metallic odors, such as the smell of iron or copper, may indicate pipe corrosion, as metals can transfer into the water.

Unpleasant Taste

Corroded copper pipes can affect the taste of the water, giving it a metallic or off-flavor.

Leaks or Burst Pipes

Pipe corrosion can weaken the integrity of the pipes, leading to leaks or, in severe cases, pipe bursts. Water damage or unexplained moisture can indicate underlying corrosion issues.

Preventive Measures and Solutions

While pipe corrosion is inevitable to some extent, there are preventive measures and solutions available to minimize its impact:

Water Treatment

Treating water to control its pH levels and reduce corrosive elements can help prevent pipe corrosion.

Pipe Coatings and Linings

Applying protective coatings or linings to pipes can act as a fence between the metal and corrosive elements in the environment.

Cathodic Protection

Cathodic protection systems can be installed to protect buried or submerged metal pipes from corrosion by introducing a sacrificial anode or applying a direct electrical current.

Regular Inspections

Conducting periodic inspections of plumbing systems can help identify early signs of corrosion and address them before significant damage occurs.

Pipe Replacement

Replacement may be necessary if the pipes are severely eroded or damaged. Upgrading corrosion-resistant materials like plastic or PVC pipes can provide long-term solutions.


Pipe corrosion is a common problem that can lead to extensive damage if left untreated. By understanding the causes and signs of pipe corrosion, homeowners and property owners can take proactive measures to prevent and mitigate this issue. Regular inspections, water treatment, and utilizing protective measures can help extend the lifespan of pipes and maintain a reliable plumbing system.

Contact RK Plumbing & HVAC Services LLC at (646) 361-5867. Our team can handle all kinds of issues you come across.

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