Pipe corrosion technically refers to the oxidization and electrochemical breakdown of pipe structure. In simple terms, pipe corrosion happens when pipes deteriorate naturally due to oxygen. In the process, the metal is slowly converted to an oxide, or what is commonly known as rust. Rust, then, slowly makes the pipes thinner and weaker resulting in several pipe issues. Corrosion can happen from inside or outside the pipe where impurities are left in the water lines.
Pipe Corrosion Situation in KL Homes
In Kuala Lumpur, the state authority and concession companies manage and operate the water utilities. However, although the water supplied to the consumers are subjected to several treatment stages, it is unavoidable that contamination of heavy metal into the water supply can happen. This can happen specifically if the water is distributed to a pipeline system that has started to corrode or have been corroding. Lead, for example, is an example of a chemical substance, harmful to humans, that can integrate into the water supply due to pipe corrosion.
Since pipe corrosion is a natural process, it can happen anywhere despite the massive efforts to prevent it. However, early detection can help in further contamination. This begins by knowing the common types of pipe corrosion that happens at home, and how you can tell when you have one.
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Types of Pipe Corrosion
There are several types of corrosion, but in Kuala Lumpur homes, the following are the most common.
- Galvanic Corrosion
- Erosion Corrosion
- Bacterial Corrosion
Galvanic corrosion technically refers to an electrochemical process where one metal corrodes in preference to another metal that it is in contact with through an electrolyte. When this happens, one of the metals becomes the anode, while the other one becomes the cathode. When the metal becomes an anode, it corrodes faster compared to when it is left by itself. When the metal becomes the cathode, it corrodes slower compared to when it is left by itself.
A common example of galvanic corrosion is when you immerse aluminum and carbon steel in seawater. The aluminum will become the anode and will corrode faster compared to the carbon steel that becomes protected.
This type of pipe corrosion is the most common of all and is noticeable when the water distributed through the pipe turns blue or green.
Erosion Corrosion occurs when a metal is exposed to mechanical wear or damage caused by solid particles, a liquid, and sometimes the combination of both processes where it interacts with corrosion and causes the metal to dissolve or oxidize. In other cases, this can be intensified by faulty handiwork.
This type of pipe corrosion is considered the most dangerous as it can cause major leaks to your pipe structure if not detected at an earlier time.
Bacterial Corrosion occurs when there is the presence of microorganisms’ activities on a metal surface. Some of these bacteria utilize or respire metallic substances that later contribute to the corrosion. Others don’t utilize the metal but release an organic acid instead that causes metallic substances to break down.
This type of pipe corrosion is the fastest to develop and can cause damages to your pipes in just a few months. In fact, it has been considered as a significant cause of corrosion in most underground pipelines.
Pipe corrosion is a natural process, and it is very little you can do to prevent it. However, good maintenance can help delay corrosion and consequently lengthen a piping system’s life. Regular inspections are most recommended especially to homes where water is mainly distributed through concession companies. Though treated several times, water can still get contaminated due to pipe corrosion.
Pipe corrosion not only causes water contamination but when left undetected or untreated for a longer period of time can lead to several issues that can cause a disaster and an enormous financial loss. Knowing the types of pipe corrosion found in homes can also help minimize the risk of destruction they can cause.
Additionally, if you’re thinking of buying a new home, changing or replacing old pipes is a wise thing you can do. It is also suggested that pipes be coated so that corrosion is delayed.