Corrosion, which leads to rust, can eat up your copper pipes, making them less efficient and easier to break. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to keep pipes corrosion-free for as long as possible.
Here are ways you can protect copper pipes from corrosion and prevent it:
- Keep pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5.
- Keep water flowing.
- Put sealants on joints and crevices.
- Apply protective coatings.
- Keep your pipes from moving.
- Insulate your pipes.
Of course, it’s easier to decide which strategy to try out when you know what they exactly are for. Hence, in the following sections, we’ll dive deep into the reasons behind each anti-corrosion technique. The following are at least 6 ways to do so:
1. Keep pH Levels Between 6.5 and 8.5
Setting the pH level of the water entering the pipe is among the most critical steps in keeping rust away from your copper pipe.
Generally, pH measures the level of acidity or alkalinity of your water. If the pH is too low, then it’s acidic, too high, and it’s basic.
There’s no need to break down the chemistry behind choosing a pH between 6.5 and 8.5, but if you’re up for some quick background, then here it is:
When the pH is too low (i.e., your water is acidic), the condition becomes ideal for some portions of your copper pipe to leach or dissolve into your water.
Over time, more copper dissolves, and the pipe becomes thinner and thinner, making it weaker and prone to breakage.
The good news is that you can conveniently purchase a product that controls the pH level inside your copper pipes.
An effective way to raise the pH of the water in your house is to install a calcite neutralizer system such as the WECO Whole House Filter available on Amazon.com.
The system works by slowly releasing calcium ions as water passes through the equipment’s filters to raise the pH of the water to around 7 or 8.
2. Keep Water Flowing
When water is stagnant, its oxygen component gets the time to react with the atmosphere and, additionally, with the copper metal that constitutes your pipes.
The reaction of copper and oxygen then inevitably leads to corrosion.
Hence, making sure that water continuously flows within your pipe is an easy way to prevent rust from causing you some trouble in the future.
3. Put Sealants on Joints and Crevices
Crevices and joints in and between copper pipes are ideal sites for contaminant accumulation and bacterial growth.
These substances and microorganisms can corrode metal. Once corrosion has taken hold of a spot in your piping system, it can now quickly eat up neighboring portions leading to severe problems in the future.
Hence, sealing crevices and joints could significantly improve corrosion resistance. Think of it as sending reinforcement to the group’s weakest link. It may cost you some resources, but you’ll have to expect more damage when the enemy establishes a foothold in your area.
4. Apply Protective Coatings
Depending on where the copper pipe is situated, it could be exposed to various oxidants that lead to corrosion.
For instance, in wastewater treatment plants, chlorine is typically used as a disinfectant, removing harmful microorganisms from water. However, chlorine also reacts with the copper pipe, eventually resulting in corrosion.
To prevent chlorine and all other rust-forming substances from reaching your pipes, you can tap the services of companies specializing in pipe coatings to keep your system rust-free and effectively, safe and efficient.
5. Keep Your Pipes From Moving
If your pipes aren’t fixed in position, they may easily move, especially with the strong water pressure flowing through them regularly. This movement makes it likely for the pipes to rub against each other, either along the length of the pipe surface or within its joints.
When this happens, friction quickly builds up in the rubbing surfaces, slowly wearing down the material and exposing the inner portions of the pipe bit by bit.
Unfortunately, exposure to outside substances such as air can lead to corrosion in copper pipes.
If you hear the sound of copper pipes rubbing or bouncing against each other, say, when you get into the shower or suspect that they aren’t stabilized in place, then you also need to consider the possibility of corrosion.
The best course of action would be to fix them in place using pipe supports. Doing so wouldn’t take that much of your time and money, but the returns would be at least ten-fold.
6. Insulate Your Pipes
Copper pipes can also corrode due to contact with other kinds of metals through a process called galvanic corrosion.
When two metals, say copper and steel, come into contact, a chemical reaction occurs wherein the copper begins to rust.
Unfortunately, plumbing systems are usually made of different kinds of metals such as brass, copper, and steel, so galvanic corrosion is an almost inevitable occurrence.
For copper piping, this usually happens when the pipe is improperly insulated from the steel brackets that support it.
It turns out properly insulating your copper piping not only prevents water from freezing during winter but also prolongs the life of your pipes.
This is because insulation prevents metals from rubbing against each other, especially when poor supports are in place.
Of course, using other strategies like putting pipe clamps and straps could also work, but insulating your pipes would be like hitting two birds with one stone.
Corrosion in copper pipes can cause problems ranging from harmless downtimes to costly piping system inefficiencies and breakdowns.
There’s no need to worry, though, as you can proactively protect your pipes using a few simple steps.
Keeping pH levels between 6.5 and 8.5, for instance, can make a world of difference. Several other strategies are listed here, but the gist is that most anti-corrosion strategies are simple and easy to implement.
Remember that preventing corrosion from eating up your pipes is often cheaper than dealing with rusty pipes that may then require expensive repairs or replacements.