Many people have copper water pipes in their homes, because the metal is resistant to corrosion. Copper is a highly stable material, and a green patina will often form on the outer surface to keep corrosive agents from reacting with the metal. Generally speaking, most copper pipes will not deteriorate for over 200 years. However, if the pipes are continually exposed to certain minerals, then they may last about 50 years instead.

If you own an older home, then your pipes may spring a leak that requires professional replacement. You can prevent this from happening sooner than later though, by following the tips in this article to keep corrosive salts away from the copper metal. 

Stay Away From Ice Melting Products

Many people use ice melting products on their driveways, sidewalks, and walkways to make sure that slipping accidents do not occur. Unfortunately, many of these products contain salt-based chlorides. This is true of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride products. All of these salt substances can move into the earth or ground once they are shoveled off walkways, and water will force the salts into the ground.

The salt can then reach the copper pipes placed in the earth near your home. These pipes may extend from the water meter to your house, or they may feed a sink in your garage or an outdoor shower. When the salt reaches the copper pipe, a chemical reaction occurs and the copper deteriorates.

Deicers to Use Instead

You can easily keep this sort of corrosion issue from occurring by staying away from salt-based ice removal products. Use a urea or calcium magnesium acetate material instead. You can make your own deicer as well by mixing two cups of vinegar or rubbing alcohol with one cup of water and adding it to a spray bottle. Spray the solution on outdoor ice as needed.

Run Water in All Pipes

If you have naturally soft water or if you have a water softener in your home, then your water contains sodium. This sodium can corrode your copper water pipes in the same manner that deicing products can. Thankfully, the sodium content in your water is fairly low. In areas where water is extremely hard, water that has passed through a softener will contain more than 28 milligrams of sodium per eight ounces.

However, in places with moderately hard water, the fluid will hold around 12 milligrams. In comparison to one teaspoon of salt that has 2,400 milligrams of sodium, the small amount of salt in the water is usually not an issue for copper water pipes. This is also true due to the fact that the salt is fully dissolved in the water.

Corrosion problems do come into play though, when water is allowed to sit in copper water pipes for long periods of time without moving. The salt ions will then move out of the water and towards the copper metal where it will degrade it from the inside. You can stop this by making sure that all faucets inside and outside the home are turned on at least once every few weeks to make sure that water does not sit stagnant in the pipes. 

A Different Softening System

If you have hard water that requires softening, then think about replacing salt water units with reverse osmosis ones. These water filtration systems use salt to attract minerals from the hard water, but the water is then passed through a membrane. The membrane allows water to pass though, but the salt and other minerals will be left behind. This will leave you with clean water that contains little or no salt to corrode your copper pipes. 

If you have copper water pipes in your home, then you have a water system that will resist corrosion. However, salt can cause the pipes to deteriorate, so follow the information above to prevent the mineral from coming into contact with the copper. You can contact residential plumbers for additional info on how you can keep your copper pipes in good shape.