Have you ever turned on the tap only to be greeted with a murky, discoloured stream? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a gradual decrease in water pressure, leaving you wondering what’s happening behind the walls of your home. These are common signs of pipe corrosion, a silent but potentially destructive issue that can wreak havoc on your plumbing system.

Pipe corrosion is a process where the metal in your pipes deteriorates over time due to various factors such as age, water quality, and chemical reactions. This problem can affect different types of pipes, including galvanised steel and copper pipes, which are commonly found in many Australian homes. Left unchecked, corroded pipes can lead to leaks, water damage, and even contaminate your drinking water, posing health risks to you and your family.

This blog will explore pipe corrosion in-depth, equipping you with the knowledge to identify the signs, understand the causes, and explore effective repair options. Taking proactive steps to address corroded pipes can safeguard your home, protect your water supply, and avoid costly plumbing emergencies down the line.

Let’s start on this journey together and learn how to keep your plumbing systems in top shape!

Signs You Have Corroded Pipes


Discoloured Water

One of the most common signs of corroded pipes is discoloured water pipe flowing from your taps. If your tap water appears brown, yellow, or reddish, it could indicate rust and other corrosion by-products leaching into your water supply.

This discolouration can be especially noticeable when you first turn on the taps after a period of inactivity, as the corroded material has had time to accumulate in the standing water within the pipes.

Low Water Pressure

Corroded pipes can reduce water pressure throughout your home’s plumbing system. As corrosion builds up inside the pipes, it can restrict water flow, resulting in lower pressure at the taps and showerheads. If you notice a gradual decrease in water pressure over time or if the pressure suddenly drops, it could be a sign that your water pipes are corroding and need attention.

Leaks and Water Damage

Pipe corrosion can weaken the structural integrity of your plumbing system, making it more susceptible to leaks and ruptures. If you notice damp spots on walls, ceilings, or floors or hear the sound of running water even when all taps are turned off, it could indicate a hidden leak caused by corroded pipes. Left unchecked, these leaks can lead to extensive water damage in your home, promoting mould growth and compromising the structure of your property.

Strange Odours or Tastes

Corroded pipes can impart unpleasant odours or tastes to drinking water. If your tap water has a metallic taste or smell, it could be due to iron, copper, or other metals that have leached into the water supply due to corrosion.

In some cases, the water may also have a musty or earthy smell, which can be caused by bacterial growth within the corroded pipes.

Visible Corrosion on Pipes

If you have exposed pipes in your home, such as in the basement or under sinks, you may be able to spot visible signs of corrosion. Look for discolouration, flaking, or pitting on the surface of the pipes, particularly around joints and fittings.

Copper pipes may develop a blue-green patina, while galvanised steel pipes may show red or brown rust spots. If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely that corrosion has taken hold, and you should take steps to address the issue before it worsens.

Causes of Pipe Corrosion

Water Quality Issues

Poor water quality is one of the most common causes of pipe corrosion in your home’s plumbing system. Hard water, which contains high levels of minerals like calcium and magnesium, can cause a build-up of scale inside your pipes, leading to corrosion over time.

Additionally, water with a low pH level (acidic water) can be more corrosive to metal pipes, causing them to deteriorate more quickly. If you live in an area with hard water or acidic water, it’s essential to be aware of the potential impact on your plumbing system and take steps to mitigate the effects.

Electrochemical Processes

Pipe corrosion can also occur due to electrochemical processes, particularly when dissimilar metals are used in close proximity to your home’s plumbing system. When two different metals, such as copper and galvanised steel, are connected in the presence of an electrolyte (like water), an electrochemical reaction can occur, causing one metal to corrode more quickly than the other. This process, known as galvanic corrosion, can lead to premature failure of pipes and fittings, resulting in leaks and water damage.

Abrasion and High Water Velocity

Another factor that can contribute to pipe corrosion is abrasion caused by high water velocity. Water flowing through your pipes at a high speed can cause physical wear and tear on the interior surfaces, gradually eroding the protective layers and exposing the underlying metal to corrosion.

This type of corrosion is more likely to occur in areas with high water pressure or in pipes that have been improperly sized for the flow rate, leading to turbulence and increased abrasion.

Microbiologically Induced Corrosion

In some cases, pipe corrosion can be caused by microbiological activity within your plumbing system. Certain types of bacteria, such as sulphate-reducing bacteria, can colonise the interior surfaces of pipes and create a corrosive environment that accelerates the deterioration of the metal.

This process, known as microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC), can affect various types of pipes, including copper, steel, and cast iron. MIC is more likely to occur in areas with stagnant water or low flow rates, as these conditions provide an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Preventing and Addressing Pipe Corrosion


To prevent or mitigate the effects of pipe corrosion in your home’s plumbing system, it’s essential to be proactive and address any issues before they cause significant damage. Regular inspections by a professional plumber can help identify signs of corrosion, such as discoloured water, reduced water pressure, or visible damage to pipes.

If you live in an area with hard water, installing a water softener can help reduce the build-up of scale and minimise the risk of corrosion. Similarly, adjusting the pH level of your water can help create a less corrosive environment for your pipes.

In cases where corrosion has already occurred, a professional plumber can assess the extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action. Depending on the severity of the corrosion, this may involve repairing the affected pipes using specialised coatings or replacing them entirely.

Repairing Pipe Corrosion

When it comes to addressing pipe corrosion in your home’s plumbing system, it’s crucial to consult a licensed plumber. They have the expertise to assess the extent of the damage and recommend the most appropriate repair methods for your specific situation. Attempting to fix corroded pipes without professional guidance can lead to further damage and costly repairs down the line.

Repair Options for Minor Corrosion

Depending on the severity of the corrosion, a plumber may suggest different repair options. Patching small leaks using clamps or epoxy solutions can be a suitable fix for minor corrosion spots. This method involves applying a sealant to the affected area to prevent further leakage and corrosion. However, it’s important to note that patching is only a temporary solution and may not address the underlying causes of the corrosion.

Non-Invasive Technique: Pipe Relining

For more extensive damage, pipe relining can be an effective, non-invasive technique. This process involves inserting a flexible resin lining into the damaged pipe, which then hardens to create a new, seamless pipe within the old one. Pipe relining can help restore the integrity of your home’s plumbing system without the need for extensive excavation or replacement.

When Replacement is Necessary

In severe cases of corrosion or when other repair methods are not feasible, replacing the water pipes may be necessary. A professional plumber can assess the condition of your pipes and determine if replacement is the best course of action.

While replacing corroded pipes can be more costly and time-consuming than other repair methods, it provides a long-term solution and can help prevent further damage to your home’s plumbing system.

Water Filtration Systems to Reduce Corrosion Risks

In addition to repairing or replacing corroded pipes, a plumber may also recommend installing a water filtration system to help improve the quality of your water and reduce the risk of future corrosion. Water softeners can help remove excess minerals from hard water, while filters can help eliminate other contaminants that may contribute to pipe corrosion.

DIY Methods to Test for Pipe Corrosion


Water Quality Testing

Water quality testing is one of the most effective ways to test for pipe corrosion in your home’s plumbing system. You can purchase a water testing kit from a hardware store or online retailer to check for various contaminants and indicators of corrosion. These tests typically involve collecting a sample of your tap water and using the provided reagents to measure levels of pH, hardness, chlorine, and other factors that can contribute to pipe corrosion.

If the results show high levels of contaminants or an imbalance in pH, it may indicate that your pipes are corroding and need attention.

Visual Inspection

Another DIY method to check for pipe corrosion is through visual inspection. This involves examining the visible portions of your plumbing system, such as exposed pipes under sinks, in basements, or in utility rooms. Look for signs of corrosion, such as discolouration, flaking, or pitting on the surface of the pipes.

Corroded copper pipes may develop a blue-green patina, while galvanised steel pipes may show red or brown rust spots. If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good indication that corrosion is affecting your pipes and that you should take steps to address the issue.

Electrical Conductivity Testing

Electrical conductivity testing is a more advanced DIY method for detecting pipe corrosion. This method involves using a multimeter to measure the electrical resistance between two points on a pipe. As corrosion progresses, small holes or pits in the metal can form, increasing the pipe’s electrical conductivity.

To perform this test, you’ll need a multimeter and some basic knowledge of electrical systems. If you’re not comfortable working with electricity, it’s best to leave this method to a professional plumber.

Don’t Let Hidden Corrosion Cause Headaches

Pipe corrosion is a serious issue that can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing system if left unchecked. The consequences of corroded pipes are far-reaching, from leaks and water pressure issues to potential health hazards. Keep an eye out for signs of corroded pipes, such as discoloured water, strange tastes or odours, and visible rust or stains.

What causes pipes to corrode? Factors like high water temperature, chemical drain cleaners, and naturally occurring minerals can all contribute to the deterioration of your piping system.

So, what can you do about pipe corrosion? First, assess the extent of the damage. Corroded pipe repair using a wire brush or sandpaper may suffice in some cases, while more severe cases may require pipe replacement.

Don’t let rusty pipes damage your home or business—trust The Brisbane Plumbers to provide expert guidance and solutions tailored to your specific needs. Contact us today for general plumbing assistance, professional assessment, and peace of mind.