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Corrosion in the Home Environment

The living environment we call home is a microcosm that reflects the great variety of environments inhabited on the planet. It reflects the water used, the nature of soil it is built upon, and the local urban or rural activities surrounding it.  The cost of corrosion can be expensive. Corrosion can impact you and your families health, aesthetic quality of your water, waste money, and damage your household piping and fixtures. Corrosive water costs you in a number of ways: (reference)

  1. Decrease the efficiency of hot water heaters and may cause premature failure to the heater;
  2. Corrodes and causes premature failure of household plumbing and plumbing fixtures;
  3. Imparting a bitter taste to your water because of elevated levels of metals, which causes you in purchase bottled water;
  4. Results in the formation of red water or greenish blue stains on drains; and
  5. Consumption of water with elevated levels of toxic metals, such as: lead and copper, have been shown to cause both acute and chronic health problems.

Besides the aesthetic concerns, the corrosion process can result in the presence of toxic metals in your drinking water. These metals include: chromium, copper, lead, and zinc. The following are the recommended maximum contaminant levels for regulated public water supplies for the aforementioned metals: chromium (0.05 ppm), copper (1 ppm), lead (0.05 ppm), and zinc (5 ppm). To protect the public the EPA and PADEP requires public water supplies to be non-corrosive and the “Lead and Copper Rule” has set new action levels for lead and copper of 0.015 ppm and 1.3 ppm, respectively. In addition, the EPA has established a recommend maximum contaminant level of 0 ppm for lead, because of the concern with the toxicity of lead in children. If a public water supply is corrosive, the state requires that the water be treated to make the water non-corrosive.

Corrosion Costs and Preventive Strategies Study

The appliance industry is one of the largest consumer product industries. For practical purposes, two categories of appliances are distinguished: "Major Home Appliances" and "Comfort Conditioning Appliances." In 1999, a total of 70.7 million major home appliances and a total of 49.5 million comfort conditioning appliances were sold in the United States, for a total of 120.2 million appliances. The cost of corrosion in home appliances includes the cost of purchasing replacement appliances because of premature failure due to corrosion. For water heaters alone, the replacement cost was estimated at $460 million per year, using a low estimate of 5 percent of the replacement being corrosion-related. The cost of internal corrosion protection for all appliances includes the use of sacrificial anodes ($780 million per year), corrosion-resistant materials (no cost estimate), and internal coatings (no cost estimate). The cost of external corrosion protection using coatings was estimated at $260 million per year. Therefore, the estimated total annual direct cost of corrosion in home appliances is at least $1.5 billion. (reference)

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