Long ago, most people used iron or lead pipes for the plumbing systems in their homes. But when it was noticed that iron is prone to rust and corrosion and lead causes severe health problems, copper pipes became the norm. Copper pipes are durable, but under certain conditions they can and will develop leaks. Check out these 3 things that could harm your copper plumbing.
Power Lines Around Your House
Do you know how close your underground plumbing is to the power lines outside your house? If they're close to the power lines and you have the right soil conditions, the process of electrolysis could mean big trouble for your plumbing system.
Power lines can leak small electrical currents into the ground around them, which could be picked up by your copper pipes. As the electrical current runs through the pipes, it picks up and carries a small amount of the copper along with it. Eventually, the copper wears thin enough for a leak to develop, and the ground around the pipe becomes saturated. This wet earth will accelerate the process of electrolysis, and your pipes will begin to deteriorate even faster.
Fortunately, there's a fix to this problem -- once your leaky pipes have been repaired, a plumber can install plastic piping over your existing piping to create a barrier between the copper and the electrical current.
Your Municipal Water Supply
Many municipalities have switched from disinfecting their water with chlorine to treating it with chloramines. Chloramines, when combined with aluminum, can cause corrosion in copper piping. You may not have any source of aluminum in your plumbing system, but that doesn't mean the metal can't make its way to your pipes. Aluminum is used in the water treatment process and can be found in iron pipes (the water mains that feed your plumbing system may be made of iron). This aluminum can leach into the chloramine-treated water and be carried to your home where it will work to destroy your pipes.
If you suspect your city's water supply is causing copper pipe erosion in your home, it may be necessary to have your copper pipes replaced with PVC piping.
DIY Plumbing Repair Jobs
If you don't have plumbing experience, working on your pipes is not an endeavor you want to embark on. Even if you're extremely careful, there are plenty of little steps you might miss that could lead to the eventual deterioration of your copper pipes. Worse yet, some of these problems may not be noticed for long after the repair is done and the damage has grown extensive.
For example, once you solder copper pipes together you have to wipe every last bit of flux off the pipes because flux residue can cause corrosion. If you select the wrong type of copper when adding a new pipe, that pipe could have a residue inside of it that will ruin your pipes if you also have hard water. If you install copper pipes at such an angle as to create a too fast or too slow water flow rate, you create an environment where corrosion is likely. If this is the first time you're hearing these rules and you aren't sure you can comply with them, save yourself some future pipe repair costs by having a train professional work on your plumbing issues for you.
Copper pipes are among the best plumbing materials on the market right now, but they aren't perfect. Beware of the above 3 things that could harm your copper plumbing system and have your plumbing inspected regularly so you can catch any leaks while they're small and easily manageable.
For more information or assistance with repairs, contact a professional plumbing service, such as Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.