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What’s yellow and brown and disgusting when found? If you hoped the answer was not your water, sorry to disappoint.
Galvanized pipes, renowned for their corrosion-resistant properties, have long been popular for plumbing systems. With their protective zinc coating, these pipes offer enhanced durability and longevity. However, despite their inherent resistance to rust, galvanized pipes are not immune to the destructive effects of time and exposure. Over the years, rust can gradually infiltrate these pipes, jeopardizing not only the structural integrity of the plumbing system but also the quality of the water that flows through it.
We were recently called to troubleshoot and fix the pipes in an area office building. What may just look plain disgusting is more than just gross. These issues may potentially harm your plumbing infrastructure and your tenant’s health. Understanding these hazards is crucial for homeowners and property owners alike, as it enables us to take proactive measures to mitigate the risks and safeguard their plumbing systems.
How do pipes get corroded?
Corrosion is a gradual deterioration or degradation of the pipe material due to chemical or electrochemical reactions with its surrounding environment. It is a natural process in various pipes, including metal pipes like steel or iron.
It can occur due to moisture, pH imbalance, oxygen, chemicals, or other corroding elements. Protective coatings, proper material selection, regular maintenance, and addressing potential sources of corrosion (such as controlling water chemistry) can help mitigate the effects of corrosion and extend the lifespan of pipes, but most people aren’t aware of it until it becomes an issue.
Your faucet contains a small mesh screen or multiple screens with tiny openings called an Aerator. As water flows through these openings, it is mixed with air, resulting in a smooth and non-splashing stream. Adding air also helps conserve water by maintaining a steady flow while reducing water consumption.
Is the discoloration obvious?
The aerator in your faucet acts like a filter, collecting debris and sediment from the galvanized pipes. Over time, this buildup can lead to the visibility of yellow, rusty water. Without the aerator, you might not notice the issue as much, but as flakes and rust particles pass through galvanized pipes, water can become discolored, as in our most recent project.
To address this problem, we often recommend repiping with copper or PEX pipes (cross-linked polyethylene pipes), which are not prone to rusting. We typically recommend replacing the pipes throughout the entire building or house from the street since rust can often start from the source.
In this particular scenario, repiping the entire office building was deemed impractical. Instead, the team opted for a different approach. They chose to disconnect the existing lines, thoroughly flush them, remove any accumulated debris by blowing them out, and thoroughly clean the aerators. This alternative method allowed them to address the issue without extensive repiping.
Just think of what is flowing through their building before the work. Yuck.