From Dryers to Blenders: An Appliance Blog

Water Characteristics That Can Cause Hidden Damage To Pipes And Plumbing Fixtures

Your plumbing system isn't just vulnerable to damage from external sources, such as earthquakes and freezing temperatures; it can also be subject to much more insidious damage from within. Your water, as it flows through the pipes, can leach things from the pipes' walls or leave things behind, both of which can cause huge problems both in the pipes themselves and in plumbing fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs, and hot water heaters. Here are two water characteristics that can cause these types of hidden damage to your pipes: dissolved minerals and wonky pH levels.

Dissolved minerals

Dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, can combine in your water to create what's known as "hard water." This type of water can cause a variety of problems for homeowners, such as limescale buildup in plumbing fixtures. Buildup can also occur within the pipes themselves, creating a bottleneck effect by reducing the amount of water that can get through the pipe. This buildup occurs slowly over months or years, so it may be impossible to tell that it's occurring until the problem is quite advanced and you're noticing a distinct lack of water pressure at your faucets. Too much buildup can mean that you'll need to replace a lot of pipes and fixtures completely, which is why it's important to be aware of water hardness and keep tabs on your water if you know it's hard. There are a number of possible solutions to hard water, such as installing an ion exchange water softener.

PH levels

Either a high pH or a low pH can adversely affect your pipes and sinks. That's because acidic water can create a corrosive effect by pulling ions out of the pipes into the water, while alkaline water can allow the growth of microbes that can then corrode the pipes in a process known as microbiologically induced corrosion. So both an excessively high pH and an excessively low pH can be problematic. PH levels can be sneaky, because both of these types of corrosion occur slowly and can cause significant damage to the integrity of the plumbing system before actually causing any leaks.

As you can see, not every type of plumbing damage can be easily observed by the homeowner before extreme amounts of damage occur. This is why you need to keep yourself informed about your water quality by having your water tested regularly, and it's also one of the reasons why it's important to occasionally have your plumbing inspected by a qualified professional.