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Summer is here, and with it come longer days and more time for activities, like inspecting your pipes for corrosion! Not what you had in mind? Putting it off can cost you even more in the long run, and if it does become necessary to perform repairs, why not take advantage of the fairest season to do so? Along with our mild seasons, Vancouver has naturally soft water. While it’s nice we don’t have to deal with clogged showerheads, soft water happens to be corrosive.
Corrosion is the breakdown of metal as it interacts with its environment. The most well-known example is rust, or ironoxide, formed when iron is exposed to oxygen. Corrosion happens to all metals to some degree, some slower than others, which is why copper has become the standard for residential plumbing.
Copper still corrodes though; it forms a thin greenish layer called a patina. It’s this patina that gives Parliament Hill its trademark green roof, and though it may be pleasant to the eye, it’s not what you want to find while inspecting your pipes.
Copper pipes are susceptible to pinhole leaks due to turbulence in the water and temperature variation. You should inspect both the supply and drain pipes for any build-ups of patina, which could signal a hole. Don’t scrape those little green build-ups: it could open up that pinhole. There are ‘leak repair tapes’ that exist, but they are a temporary solution because the pipe will continue to corrode throughout. Instead, consider replacing sections of the pipe, or more, if the problem is widespread.
If your water tastes or smells off, leaves deposits on fixtures, stains clothing, or has an unusual appearance, it may be due to corrosion, and you should consider having your water checked. There are some handy reference tables on what to test for here.
Not only can corroded pipes impede and block water flow, but a link has been suggested between soft water, corrosion, and cardiovascular disease.2 Corrosion also speeds itself up, leading to more corrosion and more leaks if left untreated. Talk to your plumbing professional to find out your best options.
Note: For a time, lead pipes were all the rage, but if you have an older home that still contains lead piping, your concern shouldn’t be corrosion so much asimmediately replacing those pipes.Galvanized steel also saw a period of popularity, but if the zinc coating is damaged or worn out, the pipes rapidly rust and deteriorate, so they’re also good candidates for replacement.
604FixLeak offers leak detection, plumbing repairs and restoration services in the Greater Vancouver area.
If you have any questions about this article or need some help with a leak in your home or office, call us today at (604) 349-5325.
Soft water is corrosive and causes CVD:
Hudson, H.E., Jr., and Gilcreas, F.W. Health and Economic Aspects of Water Hardness and Corrosiveness. J. Am. Water Works Assoc., pg. 203, (1976).
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