If you ask any professional plumber if they love their job, the answer will be an enthusiastic “YES!” They will also tell you that the job is not for those with a weak stomach or who are afraid to get their hands dirty. If you’ve ever worked on the plumbing in your home you know that leaks, gross liquids, dirt and grime come with the territory. Of the many less than appetizing issues that plumbers deal with on a daily basis, water corrosion is a common one. If left untreated, water corrosion can cause serious damage to your plumbing system and potentially pose a health risk to your entire family.
If you’re worried that water corrosion might be occurring in your home plumbing, look no further as we have outlined the main causes and ways to deal with the problem.
Common Causes of Water Corrosion
Water corrosion can be caused by a number of factors ranging from environmental to the water supply itself. Identifying the cause of corrosion is the first step in addressing the issue.
Microbiologically Induced Corrosion
It’s estimated that upward of 30% of all pipe corrosion is microbiologically induced. This occurs when bacteria are flushed through your home’s plumbing system. Even though most microbes are of little threat to humans, their corrosive nature can erode pipe material and cause metal to find its way into your water supply. If you start to notice your water tasting like metal or low water pressure from your fixtures, it could be a sign that microbial activity exists somewhere in your plumbing system. If you suspect this as the cause, have your water tested.
If you begin to see blue or green stains in your sinks or tubs, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with copper corrosion. If you have copper pipes anywhere in your plumbing systems, this can be a real problem. As corrosion progresses, electronic activity increases and causes pipes to leak copper into your water. If the problem is left untreated, you’ll probably start to notice tiny leaks in your piping, loss of hot water pressure, and reduced flows when you turn on your faucets early in the morning. This could be caused by acidic water and may be corrected by installing an acid neutralizer.
Even though most water corrosion occurs in metal pipes, substandard plastic can corrode as well. While you might be tempted to use a treatment solution for your PVC pipes, they only offer a temporary solution. Your best bet is to call your local plumbing expert and have them determine whether or not your plastic pipes are up to snuff.
If you live on or near a saltwater coast, you know all too well that the moisture and salt in the air wreak havoc on your car, tools and just about anything else made out of metal. The same is true for your pipes and plumbing fixtures. For this reason, it’s a good idea check all of your plumbing lines and fixtures to make sure you’re not battling the corrosion that commonly occurs in this environment.
Detecting Water Corrosion
Some of the most tell-tale signs of water corrosion include blue-green stains in your sinks, small leaks in your plumbing fixtures, and tap water that tastes metallic. If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to have your water tested.
The first test you should perform is the Langelier Saturation Index to test for your water’s hardness and PH. This test is the most common to measure corrosiveness of water for residential standards. A negative reading indicates unsafe levels of corrosiveness while a positive result means your water is non-corrosive.
If you’re worried that your water might contain toxic substances like lead or copper, you should have it tested. To perform this test, collect a sample of tap water first thing in the morning. It’s best to do this early as water will have been motionless and in contact with your pipes for a long period of time. Next, you’ll want to locate a professional water testing laboratory to have it tested for toxic materials.
There’s no question that keeping everything in your home in good working order can be a full-time job. And of course, building that new deck or tackling a kitchen remodel is much more exciting than doing routine maintenance. The truth remains, however, if you want to ensure your plumbing systems are functioning efficiently and effectively, performing the mundane task of regularly checking everything for damage or problems is a must. The good news is that inspecting your plumbing for corrosion is easy and shouldn’t take you much time at all. If you know what to look for, fixing the problem is something you can do yourself for a minimal investment in most cases. Doing so not only keeps your water clean and tasting fresh but ensures the health of everyone under your roof.
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