What are the causes of a corroded copper pipe?

Corroded Copper Pipe

Corroded Copper Pipe

What exactly is corrosion?

Corrosion is defined as “the degradation of a material or its qualities as a result of an interaction with its environment.” In layman’s terms, the metal from the pipes dissolves into the water due to a variety of factors, resulting in pipe failure and corrosion of water heaters, appliances, and fixtures.

Corrosion in plumbing systems is caused by physical and chemical interactions between the pipe material and water.

Causes of Copper Corrosion Problems

  • Low pH (acid water less than 7.0)
  • Acidic pH (alkaline water greater than 8.5)
  • High dissolved oxygen levels
  • High salt concentrations in the water (total dissolved solids)
  • Bacteria that cause corrosion, such as sulfate or iron bacteria
  • Electrochemical reasons, such as incorrect electrical appliance grounding to copper pipework and/or lightning strikes through utility pole grounding wires
  • High water velocity compared to pipe size, producing hydraulic wear on the piping, occasionally encountered in circulating hot water systems employing pumps
  • Water containing sand, silt, or other grit that causes hydraulic wear on the pipes

What Can Be Done to Prevent Copper Corrosion in the Home?

  • Inspect the piping system and obtain a reliable water analysis to determine the cause and severity of the problem, especially if you are using well water.
  • Check that no superfluous electrical equipment or wires are connected to the pipe and that the piping system is appropriately grounded to earth ground. 
  • Check to ensure that electrical continuity exists throughout the pipe system. For example, plastic water filters, portions of plastic pipe, plastic water softener bypass valves, and so on should not be electrically isolated from the copper plumbing. Wrap the jumper cable around these objects.
  • Check the pH, hardness, alkalinity, temperature, and total dissolved solids, as well as the LSI (Langelier Saturation Index), to determine if the water is aggressive or corrosive.
  • Sections of copper pipe should be broken in half and inspected for corrosion and indicators of poor workmanship by the installation. If required, replace the copper pipe.
  • To remedy low pH and boost alkalinity in the water, install a calcite neutralizer tank or a soda ash feeder to raise the pH from 7.2 to 8.0.

What Factors Contribute to Pipe Corrosion?

If you see evidence of copper pipe corrosion in your plumbing fixtures, you should first check the pH of the water. Low-pH water, often known as acid water, may damage all sorts of pipes. If you test your water and find that the pH is near neutral, something else is most likely to blame. A high quantity of dissolved oxygen (called oxygen corrosion), improperly installed pipes, poor electrical grounding, high flow rates, and a lot of debris in the water are all common causes of corrosion.

FAQs Related to causes of a corroded copper pipe

What Is the Source of Green Corrosion in Copper Pipe?

Copper pipes are commonly utilized for water heater pipes because they oxidize when exposed to wet or moist circumstances. The green hue on the pipes is caused by oxidation of the copper caused by extended contact with water or humid environments. It is a type of corrosion that, in extreme circumstances, can harm the pipe.

Should Green Copper Pipes Be Replaced?

Green heating pipes may not always need to be changed, but if you see oxidation on the pipes, you should look into the cause. It might be caused by a small leak in the pipe, a broken connection, or moisture in the wall. If the corrosion is severe, the pipe may need to be replaced.

If the oxidized pipe is left in place, the leak may develop, resulting in a burst pipe, or the corrosion of the pipe may weaken it to the point of rupture. In any case, if you notice green oxidation on your central heating pipes, it is unlikely to be an emergency, but it should be investigated to determine the reason for the oxidation.

How to Clean Corroded Copper Pipelines?

Excessive oxygen suspension in water, usually induced by hot water, is one of the most prevalent causes of copper corrosion on pipes. The suspended oxygen binds to the copper and produces oxidation. The patina on corroded copper is bluish-green.

Corrosion inside the copper pipe can also be caused by very soft water, water with high chlorine levels, or water that is excessively hard. Pinhole leaks are caused by corrosion over time.


Copper corrosion occurs at a nominal rate in unpolluted water or air & de-aerated agents like nonoxidizing acids.

Note that it is even susceptible to a more rapid attack/strike in oxidizing heavy metal salts, oxidizing acids, ammonia, Sulphur, ammonia & even in a few ammonia & Sulphur compounds.

Thus, ensure to follow precautionary steps to eliminate the process of copper corrosion. In case copper corrosion is excessive and you fail to remove it individually, consulting a plumber experienced in this field can cater to the best permanent solution.

Contact Dayton Plumbing for any Corroded Copper Pipeline Toronto Solutions!