How Coastal Environments Accelerate Pipe Breaks From Corrosion

How Coastal Environments Accelerate Pipe Breaks From Corrosion

Importance of Addressing Corrosion in Coastal Areas

Have you ever wondered why pipe breaks from corrosion are more common in coastal areas? 

This issue, prevalent in places like Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC, significantly affects plumbing systems, leading to frequent and costly repairs. 

Coastal environments present unique challenges that accelerate the pipe break process, causing pipes to deteriorate faster than in other regions. 

Understanding these challenges is crucial for homeowners and businesses aiming to maintain their plumbing systems efficiently.


Corrosion of pipes.
Photo from iStock – Credit: roibu

Overview of Pipe Breaks

Pipe breaks involve the gradual deterioration of materials, typically metals, through chemical reactions with their environment.

This means that the pipes carrying water throughout our homes and businesses can slowly degrade and eventually break, leading to leaks and potentially significant water damage.

This process is exacerbated in coastal areas due to several environmental factors.


Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach, SC: Experts in Corrosion Prevention

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach, SC, is a trusted provider specializing in diagnosing and preventing pipe corrosion. 

With extensive experience in dealing with the unique challenges posed by coastal environments, their expert team offers tailored solutions to mitigate the effects of corrosion.

Ensuring the longevity and reliability of your plumbing system.


Unique Challenges Faced by Coastal Regions

Environmental Factors Accelerating Pipe Breaks

Coastal areas are characterized by high humidity, salty air, and fluctuating temperatures, all of which contribute to the accelerated deterioration of metal pipes.

Saltwater, in particular, is highly corrosive due to its chloride content, which can penetrate protective coatings on pipes and initiate the process. 

Additionally, high humidity levels in coastal regions create a conducive environment for moisture to condense on pipes, further promoting rust and other forms of corrosion. 


Causes of Pipe Breaks in Coastal Environments

Saltwater Exposure and Humidity

Did you know that the coastal air is a significant factor in pipe breaks? 

The salty air found in coastal regions like Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC, accelerates the pipe break process in metal pipes. 

The salt in the air contains chlorides that are highly corrosive, penetrating protective layers and attacking the metal beneath. 

This process is further exacerbated by high humidity levels, which keep pipes damp and perpetuate the cycle.


How Salt Accelerates Pipe Breaks

Saltwater is a potent corrosive agent.

When salt from the air or water comes into contact with metal pipes, it initiates a chemical reaction known as oxidation, wherein the metal reacts with oxygen to form rust.

This rust not only weakens the structural integrity of the pipes but also creates rough surfaces that can trap more salt and moisture, further accelerating the process of pipe breaks


Role of Humidity in Corrosion Processes

High humidity levels in coastal areas play a crucial role in corrosion. 

The persistent presence of moisture on pipes provides a continuous supply of water necessary for the oxidation reaction to occur. 

Even without direct contact with seawater, the moist air can lead to significant corrosion over time. 

This is why coastal homes and businesses often face more severe issues compared to those inland.


Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC)

Another critical factor contributing to pipe breaks in coastal environments is microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). 

This type of corrosion is caused by the presence of microorganisms that thrive in the warm, moist conditions typical of coastal areas.


Explanation of MIC and its Effects on Pipes

MIC occurs when certain bacteria, such as sulfate-reducing bacteria, colonize the surface of metal pipes. 

These microorganisms produce metabolic by-products like hydrogen sulfide, which are highly corrosive to metals. 

The result is the formation of deep pits and rapid deterioration of the pipe material, leading to leaks and breaks.


Examples of MIC in Coastal Regions

In coastal areas, the warm temperatures and high humidity create an ideal environment for MIC. 

For example, in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC, instances of MIC are common in both residential and commercial plumbing systems. 

The presence of seawater and organic matter can exacerbate the problem, making it essential for property owners to regularly inspect and treat their plumbing systems to prevent severe damage.


pH Imbalance and Chemical Reactions

The pH level of the water in your plumbing system can significantly impact the rate of corrosion. 

Coastal regions often experience issues with water pH that can accelerate the pipe break of metal pipes.


Impact of Acidic and Alkaline Water on Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are particularly susceptible to pH imbalances. 

When the water is acidic (low pH), it can dissolve the protective oxide layer on the inside of copper pipes, exposing the metal to further corrosion. 

Conversely, overly alkaline water (high pH) can lead to the formation of deposits that cause blockages and internal pressure, leading to pipe bursts.


Consequences of High Water Temperatures and Oxidation

In addition to pH levels, the temperature of the water flowing through your pipes can influence the rate of oxidation. 

Hot water accelerates chemical reactions, meaning that pipes carrying hot water are more prone to rapid corrosion. 

This is particularly problematic in coastal regions where high temperatures are common, leading to quicker deterioration of plumbing systems.


Types of Pipe Materials and Their Vulnerability

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are widely used in residential and commercial plumbing systems due to their durability and resistance to corrosion under normal conditions. 

However, in coastal environments, they face unique challenges that can lead to accelerated deterioration.

Advantages and Disadvantages in Coastal Environments

Copper pipes have several advantages, including resistance to microbial growth and a relatively long lifespan under ideal conditions. 

However, the salty air and high humidity typical of coastal areas can significantly reduce their lifespan. 

The chloride ions in saltwater can penetrate the protective oxide layer on copper pipes, leading to pitting and eventually causing leaks and breaks.

Specific Types Affecting Copper

Copper pipes are susceptible to several types of corrosion, particularly in coastal environments:

  • Type I Copper Pitting: Typically occurs in cold water systems with hard water, leading to pinhole leaks.
  • Type II Copper Pitting: Found in hot water systems with low pH (acidic water), causing localized corrosion and potential failure.
  • Type III Copper Pitting: Occurs in systems with high pH water, resulting in blue-tinged water and internal blockages.


Galvanized Steel Pipes

Galvanized steel pipes, once a common choice for plumbing, are highly vulnerable, particularly in coastal environments.

The zinc coating, intended to protect the steel, can wear away over time, exposing the underlying metal to corrosive elements.

Common Issues

Galvanized steel pipes are prone to several corrosion-related issues:

  • Zinc Coating Degradation: The protective zinc layer can wear off, exposing the steel to corrosion.
  • Rust and Mineral Buildup: Internal rust and mineral deposits can cause blockages and reduce water flow.
  • Electrolysis: When connected to other types of metal pipes, galvanic corrosion can occur, accelerating deterioration.


Stainless Steel and Other Alloys

Stainless steel and other alloy pipes offer greater resistance to corrosion compared to copper and galvanized steel, making them a preferable choice in coastal environments. 

However, they are not entirely immune to corrosion and require proper maintenance.

Resistance to Corrosion and Best Practices

Stainless steel pipes are highly resistant to rust and corrosion due to their chromium content, which forms a protective oxide layer. 

This makes them suitable for use in coastal areas where other metals may fail. 

However, they can still suffer from localized corrosion if the protective layer is damaged or if they are exposed to certain chemicals.

Situational Vulnerabilities in Coastal Areas

While generally more durable, stainless steel pipes can be vulnerable to:

  • Crevice Corrosion: Occurs in areas where the protective oxide layer is damaged, such as joints and fittings.
  • Stress Cracking: Caused by tensile stress in combination with corrosive environments, leading to sudden failures.
  • Pitting: Localized corrosion that creates small pits, which can penetrate deep into the metal.


Preventative Measures and Solutions

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Regular maintenance and inspections are crucial in preventing pipe breaks, and can significantly extend the lifespan of your plumbing system, especially in coastal environments like Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC. 

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection of corrosion can save homeowners and businesses from costly repairs and potential water damage. 

Routine inspections allow for the identification of initial rust formation, pitting, or other corrosion indicators, enabling timely interventions. 

Techniques such as visual inspections, ultrasonic testing, and water quality analysis are essential tools in early corrosion detection.

Techniques for Inspecting Corrosion

Various methods can be employed to inspect for corrosion:

  • Visual Inspections: Regularly check exposed pipes for rust, discoloration, and leaks.
  • Ultrasonic Testing: Using sound waves to detect thinning walls and hidden corrosion.
  • Water Quality Testing: Analyzing water for acidity, chloride levels, and other corrosive elements.


Use of Protective Coatings and Linings

Applying protective coatings and linings to pipes is an effective way to prevent corrosion. 

These barriers shield the metal from corrosive elements, significantly extending the life of the plumbing system.

Types of Coatings Effective Against Saltwater

Several types of coatings are particularly effective in coastal environments:

  • Epoxy Coatings: Provide a strong barrier against moisture and salts.
  • Polyurethane Coatings: Offer excellent resistance to chemicals and abrasion.
  • Cement Mortar Linings: Often used in larger pipes to prevent corrosion and enhance flow efficiency.

Application Methods and Maintenance

The application of protective coatings should be performed by professionals to ensure even coverage and adherence. 

Regular maintenance, including reapplication and inspection of coatings, is necessary to maintain their effectiveness over time. 

In coastal areas, reapplication might be required more frequently due to harsher environmental conditions.


Chemical Treatments and Water Quality Management

Managing the chemical composition of the water running through your pipes is another critical strategy for preventing corrosion. 

Adjusting pH levels and using safe chemical treatments can protect your plumbing system from corrosive elements.

Adjusting pH Levels to Prevent Corrosion

Maintaining a balanced pH level in your water supply is crucial.

Acidic water can dissolve protective layers on pipes, while overly alkaline water can lead to mineral deposits and blockages. 

Water treatment systems can be installed to neutralize the pH, ensuring that the water remains within a safe range for your plumbing system.

Safe Use of Chemical Drain Cleaners

While chemical drain cleaners are effective at clearing clogs, they can also cause significant damage to pipes. It’s important to use these products sparingly and opt for safer alternatives when possible. 

For stubborn clogs, consider using mechanical methods or consulting a professional plumber to avoid unnecessary corrosion from harsh chemicals.


Myrtle Beach, SC: A Case Study in Coastal Common Issues and Solutions Implemented

In coastal areas like Myrtle Beach, SC, pipe breaks are a common problem due to the high salt content in the air and water, along with high humidity levels.

Homes and businesses frequently experience issues such as rust-colored water, leaks, and burst pipes, leading to extensive water damage and costly repairs.

To combat these issues, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach employs a variety of strategies tailored to the specific challenges of coastal environments.

Common Issues:

  • Rust and Pitting: The presence of salt accelerates the formation of rust and deep pits in metal pipes, weakening their structural integrity.
  • Leaks and Bursts: Corroded pipes are more prone to developing leaks and eventually bursting, especially under pressure changes or temperature fluctuations.
  • Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC): The warm, moist conditions in coastal areas promote the growth of bacteria that can cause severe corrosion in pipes.

Solutions Implemented:

  • Protective Coatings: Applying epoxy or polyurethane coatings to create a barrier against corrosive elements.
  • Regular Maintenance: Conducting frequent inspections and maintenance to detect and address early signs of corrosion.
  • Water Treatment Systems: Installing systems to balance pH levels and reduce corrosive elements in the water.


Role of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Preventing Corrosion

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach has developed expertise in managing the unique challenges posed by coastal environments. 

Their team provides comprehensive services, including detailed inspections, advanced diagnostic tools, and customized treatment plans to prevent and mitigate corrosion. 

By focusing on proactive maintenance and innovative solutions, they help homeowners and businesses in Myrtle Beach extend the lifespan of their plumbing systems and avoid costly repairs.


Conway, SC: Addressing Corrosion in a Neighboring Community

Challenges and Effective Strategies

Similar to Myrtle Beach, Conway, SC faces significant issues with pipes due to its coastal location. 

The challenges here are largely the same: high salt content, humidity, and the risk of MIC. 


  • Salt-Induced Corrosion: High levels of salt in the air and water accelerate the degradation of metal pipes.
  • Humidity-Driven Rust Formation: Persistent humidity creates a conducive environment for continuous rust formation.
  • Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC): Bacterial growth further exacerbates the corrosion process.

Effective Strategies:

  • Customized Coating Solutions: Utilizing coatings that are specifically designed to withstand saltwater exposure and humidity.
  • Advanced Water Treatment: Implementing water treatment solutions to neutralize pH levels and remove corrosive elements.
  • Frequent Inspections and Preventative Maintenance: Scheduling regular maintenance checks to catch and address corrosion early.



The accelerated pipe breaks observed in coastal environments like Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC, are due to a combination of factors including saltwater exposure, high humidity, and the presence of corrosive microorganisms. 

Understanding these factors is essential for homeowners and businesses looking to protect their plumbing systems and avoid costly repairs.

For residents and businesses in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC, seeking expert solutions to prevent and manage pipe corrosion, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is the trusted provider. 

Their team of experienced professionals offers comprehensive services, from inspections to applying advanced protective measures.

Speech bubble 3D Icon. Orange 3d FAQ letters on brown bubble background.
Photo from iStock – Credit: Olga Zuevskaya


  1. What causes corrosion in coastal areas? 

    Corrosion in coastal areas is primarily caused by the high salt content in the air and water, high humidity levels, and the presence of corrosive microorganisms. These factors accelerate the oxidation process, leading to rust and deterioration of metal pipes


  1. How can I prevent pipe corrosion in my home?

    Preventing pipe corrosion involves regular maintenance and inspections, applying protective coatings, and managing water quality through pH adjustment and safe use of chemical treatments. Engaging a professional plumber for routine checks can help detect early signs of corrosion.


  1. What are the signs of pipe corrosion?

    Common signs of pipe corrosion include rust-colored water, low water pressure, leaks, and in severe cases, pipe bursts. Discoloration, strange tastes, and smells in the water can also indicate the presence of corrosion.


  1. Why is copper piping vulnerable to corrosion in coastal areas?

    Copper piping is vulnerable to corrosion in coastal areas due to the presence of chlorides in salt water, which can penetrate the protective oxide layer on the pipes, leading to pitting and eventual failure. Additionally, acidic or highly alkaline water can accelerate pipe breaks in copper pipes.


  1. How does Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach help with corrosion prevention?

    Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Myrtle Beach offers comprehensive services to prevent and manage pipe breaks. This includes regular inspections, applying advanced protective coatings, and installing water treatment systems to neutralize corrosive elements. Their expertise ensures the longevity and reliability of plumbing systems in coastal environments.



  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.