Galvanized steel pipes were used extensively in homes between 1930 and 1980. Plumbers and homeowners alike valued this material for its durability, and steel pipes were seen as a safer alternative to lead pipes. However, the zinc coating that prevents galvanized pipes from rust eventually deteriorates, exposing the steel and leading to corrosion.If you have an older home with galvanized steel pipes, it’s important that you are aware of the signs of corrosion and steps you can take to slow down the corrosion process.
WHAT IS CORROSION?
Put simply, corrosion is the deterioration and breakdown of a metal as a result of exposure to various chemicals in the environment. These other chemicals react with the metal over time. Different metals experience different types of corrosion. Rust is a type of corrosion that appears on iron and metal compounds that contain iron – such as steel. Galvanized steel pipes are dipped in zinc because zinc resists corrosion. The problem is, this zinc eventually wears away from the inside of the pipe, exposing the steel that is much more prone to corrosion.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CORROSION IN STEEL PIPES?
Corrosion sets in slowly as the protective zinc layer begins to wear off, so these indicators of corrosion may develop slowly.Rusty WaterThis tends to be most obvious when you first turn on the water in the morning. It may have a rust-brown or reddish tint because rust from the pipes has accumulated in the water as it sits in your pipes overnight.Low Water PressureAs the rust buildup becomes more extensive, you may notice your water pressure slowly decline. Many homeowners assume their faucets or shower heads are to blame, but replacing them does not fix the issue. Depending on which pipes are most affected, you may notice the water pressure drop throughout your entire home or only at certain taps.LeaksLeaks caused by corrosion are often overlooked because they start off as a tiny trickle. The water may even dribble down the pipe and onto the floor, leading you to believe it has come from another source. If your walls are moist, you’re having trouble keeping your basement dry, or you’re noticing mold growth in odd places, it’s important to consider corrosion-induced leaks as a possible cause.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR PIPES ARE CORRODED?
Your best option is to call a water pipe repair plumber, sooner rather than later. Leaks and water pressure are only going to get worse the longer you wait. Your plumber can send a camera down into your pipes to measure the extent of the corrosion and then replace the damaged pipes, allowing you to enjoy clean, clear water once again.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR PIPES FROM CORROSION?
If you have galvanized steel pipes in your home and believe them to still be in good shape, then taking good care of them can help delay the onset of corrosion. Keep Water Temperatures DownThe higher the temperature, the faster corrosion will occur. Most homeowners notice corrosion in hot water pipes first, and you may be able to delay this process by keeping the temperature of your hot water heater a little lower.Install a FilterA whole-home water filtration system will remove substances like hard minerals and inorganic toxins from your water. Some of these substances may accelerate corrosion.Limit Your Use of Drain CleanersDrain pipes can experience corrosion, too. Use chemical drain cleaners only as a last resort. Most clogs can be cleared with plunging and hot water.Galvanized pipes are strong and durable, but eventually, they succumb to corrosion. Take action to protect your pipes, and call us (317) 423-7289 if you start to notice signs that your pipes are corroding.