Most of the plumbing pipes in homes today are made of copper. There are a number of reasons why that’s the case. Mainly, it’s because copper is highly resistant to rust and lasts many decades under the right condition. Though it’s quite resilient, however, copper can still be affected by a wide range of different conditions. Let’s take a look at the various kinds of corrosion that can affect your copper pipes.
Formicary corrosion is caused by formaldehyde particles in the air and soil. Formaldehyde eats microscopic holes through the copper pipe, in a pattern that looks almost like an anthill if you look at it under a microscope. Hence the name “formicary.” Though it’s impossible to see with the naked eye, formicary corrosion still has a substantially negative effect on the copper. Leaks will happen much more frequently in copper pipes with advanced formicary corrosion, and their overall lifespans will be shortened. There isn’t much you can do about formicary corrosion, since it’s caused by microscopic particles in your home. You can have you pipes inspected annually, just to make sure it’s caught early, though.
Pitted corrosion is caused by chlorine particles present in the general vicinity of the pipe. Unlike formicary corrosion, pitted corrosion causes rapid degradation focused on a small area of the pipe. This opens a small leak in the pipe, called a pinhole leak. Pinhole leaks are small enough to only release a couple of drops at a time. They don’t give off any warning symptoms, and may seem harmless. However, on a long enough timeline even a pinhole leak can rot out the entire area with water damage. The best way to protect against pitted corrosion is to have your pipes inspected at least once every year.