Dezincification of a Chromium-Plated Copper Alloy Tube
A 12.7 mm (0.5 in.) diam tube was removed from a potable water supply due to leaks. The tube wall thickness was 0.711 mm (0.028 in.) with a thin layer of chromium plate on the OD surface. The tube had been in service for approximately 33 years. Investigation (visual inspection, EDS deposit analysis, metallurgical examination, and unetched magnified images) supported the conclusion that failure occurred due to porous material typical of plug-type dezincification initiating from the inside surface. Where the dezincification had progressed through the tube wall, the chromium plate had exfoliated from the base material and cracked. Recommendations included replacing the piping with a more corrosion-resistant material such as red brass (UNS C23000), inhibited Admiralty brass (UNS C44300), or arsenical aluminum brass (UNS C68700).