When it comes to your plumbing system, almost nothing is worse than corrosion (oxidation of metal). Corrosion can contribute to pipe clogs, cause your drains to back up, and increase the risk of pipe leaks. If corrosion builds on your plumbing fixtures, it can also make your sinks, tubs, and showers look terrible.

If you have metal components in your plumbing system, keeping your pipes free of corrosion can go a long way toward preventing problems that can seriously damage your system over time.

Here are five of the biggest culprits behind plumbing corrosion and what you can do to prevent your plumbing from falling victim to damaging oxidation. 

1. Older Homes and Plumbing Corrosion

Most older homes have galvanized or copper pipes, and unfortunately, metal pipes suffer corrosion quicker and easier than modern PVC corrosion-resistant pipes. Corroded pipes can become clogged leading to backups in your plumbing system or reduced water pressure.

If you own an older home that still has metal pipes, it may be a good idea to have a plumber assess the health of your plumbing system and the length of time it’ll likely last. If your pipes don’t have much life left in them (as in, they’re already corroded or otherwise deteriorated), it may be time to start planning for a plumbing system overhaul.

If, however, your metal pipes are still in relatively good condition but have suffered a bit of corrosion, you may be able to have the oxidation removed by a professional drain cleaning service. Drain cleaning specialists use a technique called water jetting, which pumps a pressurized stream of water into dirty pipes.

This technique is fully capable of eliminating any corrosion, limescale, and debris that may be hanging out in your plumbing system and is generally safe for older pipes that aren’t already at risk of leaks or breakage.

Check out the benefits of water jetting for clogged drains to learn more about this highly effective, corrosion-removing procedure.

2. What Causes Corrosion in Your Plumbing System?

Unfortunately the very thing the pipes are meant to transport causes the corrosion.

Water itself—not pure water but water containing dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc.—is corrosive to metal. And all tap water contains dissolved gasses that can make it a threat to your pipes.

The following properties of water are what cause it to corrode metal pipes and fixtures over time.

pH Levels of Water

The lower the pH value, the higher the acid content of the water. Acidic water slowly dissolves anything it touches. The water leaches metals and chemicals from the pipes as it flows through. Metal pipes are especially susceptible to acidic water corrosion.

Rainwater generally has a pH of five.


Just about everyone knows the chemical composition of water. It has two hydrogen molecules, and one oxygen.

When oxygen encounters metal, it oxidizes. This oxidation is rust and is corrosive to the metal, causing it to break down.

Minerals in the Water

Depending on your location, your water contains different levels of minerals. While minerals are good for humans in certain doses, minerals are not necessarily good for metal pipes.

High levels of calcium in water lead to mineral buildup and cause corrosion in pipes.

3. Temperature of Water

Everyone loves a hot shower. But did you know that hot water passed through pipes with corrosion can make that corrosion worse?

Hot water is more corrosive than cold water because warmer temperatures increase the rate of the electrochemical reaction that causes corrosion.

How can you help minimize temperature-related corrosion within your plumbing system? You don’t have to resign yourself to taking cold showers, but you should set your water heater to a reasonable temperature rather than setting it as hot as it will go.

4. Chemical Drain Cleaners

While not in normal water sources, we had to include chemical drain cleaners as a big factor in causing corrosion. When you have a backup, use a drain cleaning professional rather than chemicals.

Chemicals break down your pipes and cause corrosion.

5. Water Velocity

The speed at which water moves through your pipes can affect how quickly it causes corrosion. When water moves through a plumbing system at low velocity, solids separate out of it more readily and settle at the bottom of the pipes.

Over time, those solids build up, and if they contain even trace amounts of corrosive substances or dissolved gasses (carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide), they’ll gradually corrode the pipe.

But water moving through a plumbing system at high velocity can also cause damage. The higher the velocity of the water, the more abrasive it is against the interior walls of the pipe, and the more wear and tear it will cause over time.

So how do you prevent corrosion if both low- and high-velocity water flow can contribute to it? While you may not be able to prevent oxidation entirely, you can help minimize the risk by adjusting your system’s flow rate to less than two meters per second for cold water and less than 1.2 meters per second for hot water.

But you also want to make sure the flow rate is high enough to help minimize long-term corrosion that could result from low-velocity flow.

If you think your system could use an adjustment, chat with your plumber about the optimal flow velocity for the type of plumbing you have and its current state of health.

Need a Drain Cleaning Service in the Twin Cities Area?

Drain Blaster Bill is your source for drain clearing in the Inver Grove Heights area. Look to us for fast, professional service when you get a backup in your plumbing system. We clean drains and clean septic systems.

For more information, give us a call at 763-913-8719 or message us on our contact page.