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Why Cathodic Protection and Water Treatment should be Done First!

Despite claims that the piping systems were “too far gone” to protect, cathodic protection and water treatment inhibitors have been used to successfully solve the ongoing leak problems on tens of thousands of residential units. There are three primary reasons why corrosion control has been so successful, even when there has been a substantial leak history.

  1. Only isolated areas of the plumbing are corroding. Just because you see a severely corroded piece of pipe removed from a failure location does not mean that all of the piping is in the same bad condition. When you have a leak and you observe the pipe sample remember that the section where the leak occurred represents the worst case, and may not accurately represent the condition of the whole system. Copper corrosion is primarily due to “corrosion cells” that are highly localized. For example, in construction defect litigation cases, statistical analysis involving randomly exposing a number of areas of copper to determine the extent of the corrosion damage indicated that corrosion was limited to less that 5% of the actual piping. Typically, a majority of the piping is still serviceable and does not have severe corrosion.

  2. Copper piping can be very thin and still be serviceable. Metallic piping has high mechanical properties, that is, it is very strong. For example, the burst pressure rating for the less expensive ¾-inch Type M (thin wall) copper tubing is 2,600 psi. The typical water pressure is only about 60 psi, therefore, there is over a 40-times factor of safety. The point is, copper can be very thin and still be serviceable. The copper tubing typically routed below-slab is the thicker walled Type L, which has a higher burst pressure than Type M.

  3. Cathodic protection and water treatment inhibitors are known to be effective. There are no doubts regarding the effectiveness of cathodic protection. Since 1972, cathodic protection has been required by law for all buried gas and oil pipelines and storage tanks (D.O.T. Pipeline Safety Regulations Part 192). The water treatment inhibitor methods used by LCS are recommended by the USEPA Safe Drinking Water Act (Lead and Copper Rule) to address lead and copper corrosion problems in piping systems.

FACT: When you prevent further metal loss with cathodic protection and/or water treatment inhibitors the leak frequency plummets regardless of the leak history.

What is my return on investment (ROI)?
With a single-family home, one leak could pay for the system two times over. With multi-unit buildings we commonly see a ROI in less than two years. The are many indirect costs associated with leak problems including strained management and maintenance personnel, loss of property value, and loss of goodwill with tenents. Owners and Managers of residential properties should act quickly to control the problems rather that just react to the emergencies associated with ongoing leak problems.