Should You Replace Copper Piping?

For many years, galvanized steel was one of the most popular materials which home plumbing lines were constructed from. However, steel was prone to rust and corrosion, and after a few decades the pipes in a home would need to be completely replaced. By the time many of these replacements became necessary, copper had become the material of choice due to its corrosion resistance and longstanding durability. As a result, many homes throughout Florida and the country as a whole now use copper piping.

However, if you live in South Florida, there’s a chance you may receive your water from a reverse osmosis plant. Obviously there’s an immense benefit to having water that’s clean, clear, and free from mineral inclusion, but there is a downside to this process. Water that is cleaned through desalinization or reverse osmosis happens to be particularly harsh on copper piping, and could contribute to corrosion that causes eventual leaking and the need to replace these lines as well.

Why R/O Water Corrodes Copper

If copper is supposed to be corrosion-resistant, what can suddenly make it so prone to falling apart? The answer lies in what happens to water during the reverse-osmosis process. The water in south Florida is naturally slightly alkaline because of the salts and other substances that naturally occur in it. Alkaline water is less likely to corrode metal. However, by removing the salts and other substances that provide this alkalinity, water becomes more acidic, and thus more aggressive when it comes to corroding and absorbing other substances.

Reverse osmosis systems take typical water that you’d find in a municipal supply system and reduce the alkalinity, thus making it more aggressive on your plumbing and capable of slowly eating away at the copper lines in your home. Over time, you’ll eventually see the results of this in the form of small pinhole plumbing leaks or pipe bursting.

Solutions to Copper Pipe Corrosion

So what can you do if your home receives water from one of these massive reverse osmosis plants? Obviously you don’t want to have to worry about the water you receive eating away at your plumbing lines, but it’s impossible to change water providers or opt out of this service unless you’re able to move to a different service area. Well, there are a few solutions.

First, you could consider installing a calcite filter on your main water line. A calcite filter is essentially a block of calcium carbonate that gradually dissolves, raising the pH of your water and thus making it less aggressive on your plumbing line. However, this may seem silly as you’d just be undoing all of the work that went into purifying the water in the first place. Calcite isn’t harmful to you (in fact, it’s a pretty common substance found in water around the country), but it can taste funny to some people, which means you may want to go through the trouble of filtering the water again after the fact to keep the pure taste.

The second option you have is to get rid of your copper plumbing lines and re-pipe your home with new plastic lines that eliminate corrosion concerns entirely. Because of the nature of these plastic lines, they’re extremely resistant to corrosion from water purified by reverse osmosis and can serve your home for decades. And the best part: they’re remarkably inexpensive. Copper costs have surged over the past several years, but these plastic plumbing lines cost nothing more than a few cents per foot and installation is extremely simple.

Interested in learning more about re-piping your home to get rid of copper? Talk to the Fort Myers plumbers from Aztec Plumbing & Drains! Call us at (239) 232-2012 today.