Like anything that performs its job day and night, components of your cathodic protection system can begin to burn out. To ensure the life cycle of your underground structure and prevent corroding, it’s your job to ensure all the elements of your cathodic protection systems are in good health.
Without proper maintenance and routine checks, underground piping systems can suffer severe corrosion and potentially become volatile. Keep in mind that these underground systems are continuously giving off an electrical charge. In some cases, your systems may have an external power source that will also need maintenance.
Today, we’re giving you a general overview of how to test your cathodic protection systems to keep them running in optimal condition. Need help from the experts? Call HAWKINS for professional cathodic protection near me.
How often should I check my cathodic protection system?
Cathodic protection systems need to be serviced at least once every two to four years to ensure they are in good working order. Analyzing the system is reasonably straightforward, but special equipment is required to perform the test. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Portable Voltmeter
- High Impedance Digital Multimeter
- Selectable Input Resistance Digital Multimeter
- Portable Copper Sulfate Reference Electrode
- Resistivity Soil Meter
How to Test Your Cathodic Protection System
Before you set out to test your cathodic protection system it’s important to take certain precautions.
Keep in mind that test stations, rectifiers, and open junction boxes should always be handled with care. Remember to turn the power off before you handle anything, and check/address shorts before testing is initiated. Never create a circuit with your body (work with one hand whenever possible) and always avoid performing maintenance during rainfall.
There are four tests used to check the health of a cathodic protection system. If at any point you feel unsure about testing your cathodic protection system, reach out for professional cathodic protection near me.
- Pipe-to-Soil Voltage Potential
To measure the pipe-to-soil voltage potential, you will connect your volt meter with a copper sulfate half-cell and underground metal, while making contact with the ground. The meter should read 0.85 or higher. By contrast, a reading of 0.80 indicates corrosion.
- Affirm Pipe Continuity
Test pipe continuity with an ohmmeter and small internal battery. This is used to create a small voltage current and will review the continuity of your underground piping system as a whole. Set your voltage meter to OHMS and connect both ends with separate anodes. The circuit will affirm a successful continual current or reveal the presence of broken wires and poor piping connections.
- Test Anode Voltage Output
Similar to the first test, the anode voltage output test utilizes a copper sulfate half-cell. A normal measurement will range between 1.4 and 1.6 volts. Conversely, a range from zero to .3 signals a broken connection or wire between the anode and origin test box.
- Examine Anode-to-Pipe Flow
To examine anode-to-pipe flow, set your voltmeter to milliamp readings. Then, connect the pipe wire to the anode. A successful reading will range from 5ma (.005 amp) to 300ma (.3 amp). Look out for higher current flows. Leaving these unaddressed will shorten your anode life. If your reading exceeds 1.3 times the design current, it’s important to put resistances in place to boost the permanence of your anodes.
When to Call the Professionals
Testing your cathodic protection system isn’t always easy, and performing tests in the wrong conditions can be potentially dangerous. When you need help from the experts, call HAWKINS - a leader in cathodic protection services and cathodic protection near me.