Corrosion is an issue that will affect all water systems at some point in their lifespan and depending on the severity, it can mean anything from repairing a leak to replacing fixtures and fittings. Thankfully, most domestic systems won’t experience any major issues from corrosion, but more complex and aged installations are more prone to suffering adverse effects.
What is Corrosion?
Unfortunately, corrosion isn’t caused by any singular issue and is a combination of several factors within a system. These can include:
- Water quality
- System design
- Poor installation
- Operational difficulties
The most common cause of pitting in copper pipes is stagnation. In normal system operation, aerated water will flow through the pipes and fittings, slowing corroding the copper surface and creating a film on the bore of the pipe, which helps slow down the corrosion process. When water is left to stagnate, these protective layers are unable to form, and detrimental conditions are potentially allowed to develop.
Water quality also plays a major role in corrosion but can be harder to alter. Factors like water hardness, the presence of contaminants and microorganisms, and even the velocity of the water can all influence the rate of corrosion in copper.
Effects of Corrosion on Copper Alloys
Bras is a common alternative to copper for plumbing fittings, especially in water systems that contain a lot of bends or joints. While brass does offer some benefits over copper, it’s susceptible to other forms of corrosion, the primary one being dezincification.
Dezincification is the process where the zinc within brass is slowly striped away and pinhole leaks are likely to appear.
Thankfully, dezincification resistant brass or DZR brass is produced to be resistant to the dezincification process.
Corrosion will always be a concern in water systems, but by choosing the right material, installing suitable fittings for the water system, and following best operational practice, the impact of corrosion can be limited.