The present study describes the usage of the AE technique for detecting different types of damage in corrosion process with characterization of corresponding AE sources in pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipes. Firstly, several small-scale tests were implemented to specify the characteristics of AE sources including water absorption of concrete, hydrogen bubbles bursting and concrete cracks, as well as determining the appropriate sensors positions. Later on, a full-scale pre-stressed pipe was subjected to corrosion under both constant and variable pressure; aiming to detect and classify the mixed type of damage sources. The results indicated that using AE technique, all sorts of damage sources can be classified at any stage of pipe life-cycle. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.