Factors Affecting Corrosion Of Plumbing Pipes

Posted on: 24 July 2019

Corrosion is one of the major problems with metal plumbing pipes. Corrosion weakens materials and increases the risk of pipe breakage and water leaks. Below are some of the factors that determine the rate and extent of corrosion.


Metal pipes deteriorate with age. The deterioration rate may be different from different materials, but no material is immune to it. When a material deteriorates, it becomes more susceptible to chemical reactions, which increases the risk of corrosion.


Corrosion occurs when oxygen reacts with the metal to form metal oxides. For a thick material, the oxygen might not reach deep within the material to cause corrosion. For a thin material, nearly every part of the pipe is exposed to oxygen. Thus, corrosion occurs more readily in thin materials than thick ones.

Dissolved Elements

Some elements and chemicals increase the rate of reaction of metals, and a higher reaction rate leads to faster corrosion. The common culprits include oxygen and acidic minerals. Dissolved electrical conductors also encourage corrosion since they facilitate the movement of ions within the plumbing materials, which encourages the formation of metal oxides (rust).

Water Pressure

Plumbing pipes that handle high water pressure are likely to corrode more and faster than pipes that handle low water pressure. High water pressure strips protective materials off the inner surfaces of plumbing pipes. This exposes the pure metals below the protective layers, and the pure metal reacts with dissolved oxygen and other chemicals to corrode the material.

Water Temperature

High temperatures increase the rate of chemical reaction since it increases the speed of interactions between particles (such as ions, molecules, atoms, or crystals). Since corrosion is basically a chemical process, plumbing pipes that carry hot water are more likely to corrode than those that carry cold water.

Electrical Interactions

The flow of electricity along plumbing pipes also speeds up corrosion. For example, plumbing pipes are often used to connect ground wires from electrical wiring. If the connection is improper, current can flow along the pipes instead of flowing into the ground. This increases the movement of particles within the pipe materials and accelerates corrosion.


Lastly, the nature and amount of solids within the pipes also affect the corrosion rate. For example, abrasive solids will scratch and erode the lining of plumbing pipes, exposing the metal to chemical reactions and hence corrosion.

If your pipes seem to be corroding fast, talk to a plumber to diagnose and fix the problems. Pipes that have already been weakened by corrosion should be replaced before they trigger leaks.


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When I decided to install an irrigation system in my yard, I thought it would be an easy project. I had no idea how much was really involved in the process, from connecting the sprinkler system to the main plumbing line all the way to burying the individual lines for the sprinkler heads. After researching the entire process and learning as I went, I created this site to give others the benefit of my experience. I hope that the information here helps you be better prepared for what you can expect out of your irrigation system installation, including knowing when it's time to turn to a plumber for help.


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