How Long Will Pipe Last?

Steel pipe and tubing rusts!  Any material made with iron that is exposed to water and oxygen is going to rust.  How fast the pipe will rust depends on a multitude of variables - humidity, temperature, rainfall, pollution, type of soil, and more.  We'll skip the detailed discussion of the electrochemical process!!  Instead, we'd like to share what we've learned from a few decades of experience with the pipe and tubing that we sell here. 

Generally for new pipe:

  • 14 Gauge pipe left outside and unprotected will rust through in 30 years.

  • 11 Gauge pipe left outside and unprotected will rust through in 40 years.

  • 9 Gauge pipe left outside and unprotected will rust through in 48 years.


Paint stops or significantly slows down rust!  If you take away the exposure to water or oxygen, the rust process will cease or proceed very slowly. Painting protects the pipe.  Pipe that has been protected with paint will last a lifetime.

Used pipe rusts much quicker.  The chemicals and fluids that the pipe have been exposed to create crevices and pitting deep into the metal.  Frequently sections of the pipe are paper thin.  Used pipe that has been threaded or collared rusts faster since the threads create thin spots in the thickness of the pipe.

Decoiled pipe (which is also used) has been rejected because of metal fatigue.  The continuous bending and straightening creates thin spots which cause it to rust much faster.