Corrosion on Galvanized Water Supply Pipes

Time to address another one of our TISH repair items! Recall this item from our list of 9 items to address:

4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.

I wrote previously about how we hired an electrician to do some work around the house, and one of the items we asked him to address was the missing ground clamp around the water meter (also one of our TISH items). The electrician did exactly what we asked him to do, and we were thrilled with his work. Unfortunately, about 24 hours after he had left, I found this in the basement:

Leak caused by replacing ground wire clamp.

The leak seemed to be coming right from around the new grounding clamp about 6 inches above the basement floor. It’s hard to tell from this photo, but the pipe in this location was about as rusty as a pipe could be, and water seemed to be just seeping out the side of the rusty pipe. It was an ancient galvanized pipe, and I suspected that the pipe was damaged while the electrician was installing the new clamp. I called the electrician, and he confirmed that this was probably the case. He said that to install the new clamp, he had to remove the old one, which had pretty much rusted itself solid to the pipe. When he pulled off the old clamp, some of the pipe surely came with it.

It was pretty good timing for something like this to happen since we were going to have to address the corroded pipes for our TISH inspection anyway. As handy as I like to think I am, I still have never learned how to sweat copper pipe fittings.

I called around to a few plumbers, and found one that would be able to come over in a few days. In the mean time, we kept the water main turned off any time we weren’t home. This probably wasn’t necessary, but it made me feel better since I kept having daydreams of the pipe bursting wide open while I was at work and flooding the entire basement.

When the plumber came over, we asked him to replace about 8 feet of galvanized pipe with copper. The previous owner had already replaced many of the pipes with copper, but the first 8 feet after the water meter were still galvanized. Here’s what that 8 feet of pipe looked like on the inside:

Corrosion inside galvanized water supply pipe.

Gross, huh? That orange stuff inside isn’t mushy goo inside the pipes, it’s rock hard corrosion that is literally choking off our flow of water. This is part of the main water trunk that feeds the entire house – we were probably only getting about a quarter as much water through here as we should be.

When the plumber had finished and we turned the water back on, we could instantly tell a difference in how the water flowed out of the faucets throughout the house.

So at the point that I’m writing this, we only have 10 more days to address all the TISH items OR ELSE… Here’s how the list looks right now:

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.
2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.
3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.
5. Plumbing Fixtures – No backflow device installed at laundry tub.
6. Plumbing Fixtures – Improper air gap on toilet ballcock.
7. Exterior Pluming Backflow Prevention – missing backflow preventers on exterior faucets.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

The other items on the list are all pretty easy fixes, so I’m not too worried.

3 comments to Corrosion on Galvanized Water Supply Pipes

  • Goo! That’s a lot of corrosion! Was the pipe that runs underground corroded too, or was it OK?

    • @Mike – Good question. I don’t know. I didn’t actually see the pipe underground. There’s really only about a half inch of the main copper supply pipe to the house visible above the concrete floor – someone cut it a bit short…. I don’t know what condition it’s in because it’s underground (and I’d prefer to keep it there…).

  • Haha. I’m not sure I’d want to know even if it was corroded, I guess. You’ll sleep better this way :)

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