Our houses and infrastructure rely on pipes to transport water, gas, and other vital elements. The corrosion that these pipes are susceptible to is a natural process that might weaken them over time. In this detailed guide, we cover everything you need to know about pipe corrosion in your home’s plumbing system: what causes it, how to recognize the indicators, what to do, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How to Spot Pipe Corrosion

Corrosion, the slow breakdown of materials caused by environmental chemical interactions, may take several forms, each suited to a particular kind and degree of corrosion. To detect pipe corrosion in your house or infrastructure, look for surface discoloration and stains on pipes. If you’re looking for rust on ferrous metals, look for reddish-brown streaks.

Always keep an eye out for external rust or corrosion indicators on any exposed pipes. The presence of surface rust can indicate deeper corrosion issues. You can also spot corroded pipes due to the way they affect water quality. Corrosion manifests itself in water in many ways, including changes to its color, taste, and smell. One typical sign is a metallic or rusty taste. If you notice reduced water pressure, this is another sign of potential corrosion in the plumbing system. Pipes become more prone to leaks as a result of corrosion, thus reducing water pressure. Plumbing leaks or drips that don’t go away, particularly around seams and connectors, need immediate attention.

Why Do Pipes Corrode?

To effectively prevent and mitigate pipe corrosion, it is essential to understand its causes. Several variables add up to pipe corrosion, and each one requires special attention.

Chemical Reactions

Pipe corrosion may occur as a result of chemical interactions between the pipe components and the chemicals they carry. The presence of strong chemicals or acidic conditions in the pipe system is a common cause of this problem. The process produces corrosion byproducts, which weaken the pipes’ structural integrity.

Water Quality

Another factor affecting corrosion is the quality of the water passing through the pipes. Water with high amounts of acidity, alkalinity, or the presence of specific pollutants like chloride ions can hasten the corrosion process.

Electrochemical Processes

When metals come into contact with each other that are chemically different, it can cause electrochemical corrosion, sometimes called galvanic corrosion. This results in an electrical current passing between the metals, speeding up the corrosion process. Protective measures, such as dielectric unions or the isolation of dissimilar metals, are necessary to avoid galvanic corrosion in pipes.


Etching and corrosion of pipe surfaces may occur as a consequence of the physical wear and tear induced by the movement of abrasive materials through pipes. Pipes in industrial environments often experience this kind of corrosion because they transmit materials that include particle debris. Although pipe abrasion is less prevalent in residential settings than in industrial ones, it is nonetheless possible under certain circumstances.

Microbiologically Induced Corrosion (MIC)

Bacteria and other microbes can colonize pipe surfaces, where they release corrosive byproducts that hasten the corrosion process. In systems that are rich in bacteria, like water systems, MIC becomes an even bigger concern.

What to Do When You Notice Pipe Corrosion

Any time you notice corrosion on pipes, it’s important to take immediate action. Corrosion can easily lead to structural damage. It can even contaminate your home’s water, making it dangerous to drink and bathe in. Addressing corrosion promptly is also important for extending the lifespan of the plumbing system and reducing plumbing repair costs.

Inspect the Extent of Corrosion

Find out how bad the corrosion is by first looking at the damaged pipes. Look for signs of widespread or localized corrosion. Find any spots where rust, discoloration, or other decaying indicators are obvious, so you can make sure to point them out to your plumber.

Schedule an Inspection

A visual examination has its uses, but having a professional take a look is a must. Expert plumbers or corrosion experts will inspect the pipes from the inside out using cutting-edge tools to determine the state of the pipes and what’s causing the corrosion.

How to Prevent Pipe Corrosion

You can ensure the efficiency and durability of your home’s infrastructure by keeping your plumbing system in good shape. The slow but steady process of corrosion weakens pipes over time, making it a major danger to plumbing systems. Addressing pipe corrosion requires a focus on prevention. Your plumbing system will last longer and need fewer expensive repairs if you take preventative action.

Address Water Quality Issues

When it comes to pipe corrosion, water quality is paramount. If you want better water quality, you should think about getting a water treatment system. For example, water softeners can lower the water’s hardness by filtering out minerals like magnesium and calcium, which in turn reduces the likelihood of scale buildup and corrosion. To detect any corrosive substances, make sure to evaluate water parameters regularly. Check the water’s pH, dissolved oxygen, and ion concentration for corrosiveness regularly.

Consider Pipe Coatings

An efficient way to prevent corrosion from occurring in pipes is to apply protective coatings or linings. These coatings work like a second skin. Common methods for preventing corrosion on pipelines include applying an epoxy coating. These coatings are put on the inside of the pipes to make them resistant to corrosion by preventing the metal from coming into contact with the fluids being conveyed. Polyethylene wraps are a great way to keep exposed pipes protected from the weather. In addition to insulating the pipes, these coverings keep exposed surfaces from rusting. Another way to coat the pipeline is with cathodic protection, which requires impressed current systems or sacrificial anodes. By rerouting potentially damaging stresses, these technologies help pipelines retain their structural integrity and last longer.

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

No matter the preventative measures that you take to protect the pipes from corrosion, you should still schedule regular plumbing maintenance and inspections. This allows a professional to find and fix any new areas of corrosion. This type of early intervention is essential to preventing further damage to the pipes. Regular inspections also allow a professional to provide you with tailor-made prevention strategies that you can use to overcome the unique challenges of your home’s plumbing system. How often you need to schedule pipe inspections depends on several factors: the age of the plumbing system, the quality of the water, the material of the pipes, usage patterns, and previous corrosion issues. Corrosion is less likely to occur in pipes made of copper or plastic as opposed to iron or steel. For homes with prior corrosion problems, it’s helpful to schedule inspections more frequently.

F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling offers plumbing maintenance and inspections. We also help Cheshire homeowners with heating and cooling, including AC and furnace installations, repairs, and maintenance. Give us a call today to learn more about taking care of your home’s plumbing system.

company icon