Pipe Corrosion

A Common Problem Greatly Under Recognized By Property Owners And Managers, Design Engineers, And Plant Operators

The corrosion of steel piping and its related components is a continuous and virtually unstoppable process.  The end product, which is commonly referred to as rust, is simply the result of an electrochemical reaction through which the higher energy processed metal is slowly reverted back to its naturally occurring form – metal ore.

Even with the proper application of available countermeasures, the estimated cost for replacing corroded piping systems in the United States alone stands well in excess of $75 billion annually – making corrosion one of the most potentially damaging losses to any commercial, private, or industrial property.  The financial impact of all metal corrosion on a worldwide scale is staggering – resulting in losses of $1 trillion dollars in the United States alone for 2012.  Review the latest corrosion loss statistics from this independent source.

Over $121 billion is spent annually in the United States on corrosion control chemicals, coatings, and other protective systems.  Hundreds of millions more are spent on corrosion monitoring and testing.  An estimated one sixth of all steel production worldwide is used to replace corroded metal – much of it at cooling water piping systems.  And yet, corrosion problems are increasing in frequency and severity, not decreasing.  Some fire protection systems now fail within 2-3 years.  Entire condenser water and cooling systems within 5-10 years.  For various reasons ranging from declining material quality to engineering design, to less effective corrosion controls – corrosion activity now presents to many property managers potentially career altering challenges.

Problems Mild To Severe

Pipe corrosion represents the most serious threat and monetary loss to any commercial or industrial building or plant operation next to fire.  In its less serious form, corrosion can produce problems ranging from lost heat transfer efficiency and constricted pipes – to annoyance pinhole leaks and temporary shutdowns.  More serious failures are often in the form of million dollar flood damages, operating failures, lost production, productivity interruption, and personal injury.  Potentially worst consequences exist for fire protection systems, and where an internal corrosion problem, because of the volume of iron rust deposits generated, has the potential to clog the pipe and thereby render the fire protection system totally worthless.

In extreme, but all too common examples, the failure to recognize a serious corrosion problem will result in the need to replace some or all of the piping system at extraordinary cost, and possibly with the loss of critical services.

Multiple Reasons For Problems

articles couponarticle2Finding oneself in scouponarticle2_140uch a position, however, is not an overnight event. Most high corrosion scenarios are the result of years of a problem condition which has gone either unrecognized, unaddressed or ignored. Often it is inherited from a previous owner or operator not effective at controlling a corrosion problem, and / or having obviously less concern. For many of the worst corrosion problems we have been called in to investigate, a total reliance and blind trust in corrosion coupons have allowed years of sky high corrosion to continue unabated. A new publication at left documents such a case history.

Through our involvement in the field of chemical water treatment and ultrasonic pipe testing since 1981, we have seen a surprisingly high number of facility engineers and plant managers interested in extending the retirement date of plant piping just slightly beyond their own! A fact rarely obvious until a major and often premature failure occurs.

A combination of less effective corrosion control chemicals, lower quality and less corrosion resistant metals, and less tolerant design engineering practices, have made the need to closely monitor corrosion losses more critical today than ever before.

This Internet site is dedicated to the issue of pipe corrosion and the identification and reduction of such problems through better monitoring and preventative actions. Its contains a large volume of useful information based upon hands on investigations into most of today’s corrosion problems.

Documented Examples

CorrView International, LLC offers a series of photo galleries taken from 18 years of past ultrasonic piping investigations, which address the above and additional corrosion conditions.  A review of the different types of corrosion is often helpful in initially determining the likely corrosion cause.

In many cases, however, a combination of conditions will exist within the same piping system.  View our extended Corrosion Photo Gallery of 27 different corrosion types and failure conditions.