The Price of Corrosion

February 12, 2016

According to a study initiated by NACE (National Association of Corrosion Engineers) the annual cost of corrosion is $276 billion dollars. It is estimated that corrosion in mechanical systems account for $69 billion when including all of the effects such as: prevention, containment, remediation, and damage repair/replacement.

Corrosion negatively effects the life cycle cost of mechanical systems shortening their useful life span and ultimately costing more money in repair/replacement. The expense and liability increases significantly when it impacts critical life safety systems. Nearly all commercial fire sprinkler systems are susceptible to corrosion's damaging effect. Component damage and mineral deposits can clog pipe lines and block sprinkler heads. Corrosion often starts with pin hole leaks which can cause mold growth, persistent color, staining, water damage, electrical system failure, etc...

Building owners and occupants rely on the ever present protection of fire sprinkler systems but this reliance warrants a continual level of vigilance on critical components. Simple, easy-to-follow maintenance steps reduce or contain this exposure. System maintenance to identify and treat corrosion comes with a cost that varies widely due to the diversity, function, and condition of the piping system. Traditional methods of analysis range from avoidance by ignoring the system until a problem occurs to being proactive by completing the NFPA 25 mandated 5-year internal pipe inspection.

The reactive cost of corrosion is far and away the most expensive since it often involves significant water damage, disruption to occupancy, and costly system repair. Insurance industry estimates the cost of water damage repair at approximately $15 to $23 per sq. ft. of a damaged area. When caught, early corrosion damage can be mitigated inexpensively but, if left untreated the costs quickly skyrocket into tens, if not thousands of dollars. Early detection is critical to fast response which also allows for a wider variety of treatment methods. The longer corrosion can have an impact the greater the overall damage leading to higher overall cost.

Underwriters Lab, Factory Mutual, NFPA and NACE are all working on new guidelines to improve and protect systems with design recommendations and changes to building code requirements. Existing systems can also benefit from both new methods and technologies to address corrosion such as air elimination, water treatment, and use of inert gas.

AGF Manufacturing’s CORRinSITE provides an easy-to-install, maintenance-free, and low-cost solution to corrosion monitoring.