Steel piping for water lines has a long history of use due to its great strength and resistance to water hammer. Though able to handle difficult stresses, steel oxidises with water, requiring special coatings or alloys to make it suitable for use in residential plumbing.
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With an average lifespan of 40 years, galvanised steel pipe limits itself primarily to non-residential plumbing. A coating of zinc protects galvanised pipe, but over time, corrosion occurs, depositing high levels of zinc and iron into the tap water. Though still found in some homes built before the 1960s, most homes replace galvanised pipes with non-corrosive materials.
Stainless steel water pipes consist of an inert alloy, providing a corrosion-resistant alternative to galvanised steel. Available in lengths up to 60 feet in ½-inch to 16-inch diameters, and up to 48 feet in 18-inch to 20-inch diameters, stainless steel reduces the number of joints and fittings required in large-scale plumbing systems.
Stainless steel's high resistance to oxidation, without requiring coatings or electrochemical protection systems, extends its service life and minimises maintenance compared to zinc-coated pipes. Increased strength and ductility reduces wall thickness of stainless steel pipe.
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