Article | How to prevent corrosion in water systems

Corrosion in commercial water supplies is one of the biggest problems faced by facilities, particularly in older buildings or buildings with poor maintenance regimes.

Corroded water systems can cause a number of problems, including poor water quality, bad water taste, health issues and damage to plumbing, such as leaks, that will eventually lead to complete system failure. This article will cover the causes and effects of corrosion in water pipes and will discuss how to prevent corrosion in commercial water supplies.


There are many reasons for corrosion to occur in water pipes. Some of the most common causes are listed below:

Pipework material

Metal pipework is prone to corrosion. Modern pipework is commonly made from copper, although in older buildings it is still possible to find steel, iron and lead pipes. Copper is less corrosive than other metals but that does not mean that it isn’t vulnerable to it. Certain alloys that are present in some water sources combined with the right conditions can cause corrosion to occur at a faster rate.

Chemical quality of the water

Not all water is the same. Some water contains a lower pH value, lower alkalinity value and a higher concentration of minerals and chemical salts such as aluminum, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The effects of low pH levels in the water, low alkalinity and the presence of certain minerals in the water cause the water to become corrosive.


Corrosion is an electrochemical reaction, meaning that electrons are transferred. Higher temperatures cause the reaction to speed up, meaning that high water temperatures cause corrosion to occur at an increased rate.


Below is listed some of the most common effects of corrosion in water systems. The problems caused range from mild to severe, depending on the corrosion levels and rate of corrosion in the pipework or water tanks.

  • Poor water quality
  • Health hazards
  • Reduced efficiency
  • Premature water system failure


Identifying corrosion early

Firstly, it is important to identify whether corrosion is likely, or already present, within your water system before the problem worsens. The easiest way to identify the presence of corrosion in water systems is to look at the color of the pipe at the point of entry. If there is a green/blue color present, this is indicative of corrosion in copper pipework. Similarly, if there is a red/brown color present, this is a sign of corrosion in iron piping. Lead pipes are not as easy to identify as there will be no color staining which is one of the reasons it is ineffective and dangerous as a pipe material.


Knowing what materials the pipes are made from and the quality of the water flowing through them is the first step in understanding how to prevent corrosion in water systems. Not all systems are the same and the water flowing through the systems differs depending on the area and the source of the water.

Water treatment systems

A number of water treatment solutions are available to help in the prevention and treatment of corrosion within water systems, including both biological and chemical treatments. It is advisable to seek the help of a water treatment specialist to diagnose the best water treatment methods for your particular water system.


NCH Asia specializes in the treatment and prevention of corrosion in commercial water systems and has been helping companies around the world for many years. Our water treatment and automated control systems are designed to keep your facility’s water safe and your systems running smoothly.

If you’re struggling with corrosion in your water systems and would like expert advice or information on our water treatment products and services, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help.

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