While plumbing, you ever wonder what is the reason causing the water lines to turn greenish or some other color? It’s interesting how a metal pipe of great conductivity reaches to the end of its useful life showing different colors.
Unfortunately, most people are not that much concerned about their pipelines until the pipes start to leak. It is very important to notice the change in the color of copper pipes and take initiative before it is too late.
Read on to the article Copper Pipe Green and White Stuff? which is going to help you figure out different reasons behind different colors produced by copper corrosion and the necessary remedies to get over it.
What is the Green and White Stuff on Copper Pipes?
While repairing pipes in households or plumbing, it’s very common to notice the pipes changing their color to greenish or whitish. Such colors indicate either corrosion or oxidation or the presence of some leaking in the lines.
The colors are important as they help to figure out the reason behind the corrosion. The change in color indicates that the pipes’ useful life is going to end soon and it needs to be changed.
The white stuff you see over a copper pipe is actually calcium, assembled over a long period of time.
On the other hand, the green corrosion found over copper is actually a green compound named Patina. The mixture of copper with water and oxygen forms a copper oxide which comes in green color resulting green oxidation.
Main Causes of White Stuff and Green Stuff
There are plenty of reasons for a copper pipe to turn greenish or into some other color. But often you can figure out the reason behind the corrosion through the color it has turned to. The most common colors observed are green, blue, black, and white.
For example, if you see green or some greenish-blue stuff indicates oxidation of copper pipes. When the pipe is left exposed to oxygen and water for a lengthy period, the copper breaks down due to the presence of these components.
Let’s understand a bit more elaborately. As copper is a feasible option as a heat conductor, most piping systems are made of copper.
So when the hot water passes through these pipes, some water is soaked up and then released back into the warm space.
And as this process of heating and cooling continues, it in turn produces corrosive oxidation resulting in green oxidation over the pipe causing green corrosion.
Now comes the white stuff, which often might feel like fibrous cotton candy. That’s actually efflorescence. This is caused by dissolved minerals precipitating out of the water when the leak drips, drying up, and then depositing a little amount of calcium, sodium, etc. on the valve body.
In simple words, when copper pipe carries tap water, it carries minerals which are responsible for water hardness. These minerals contain calcium, magnesium, and other elements like silicate. This calcium is the reason behind those white stuff.
How to Fix Copper Pipe Green Stuff?
As patina or copper oxide is a sign of a leak, you should start fixing beginning from the root. Whether the leakage is caused due to a large hole or by a pinhole size, oxidation caused due to it can cost you a lot. It’s a serious plumbing hazard.
Here I am going to discuss the steps required to fix the green stuff off of the pipes.
What You’ll Need
It’s essential to have all the supplies listed below before working on your damaged pipes, as the process is not that quick. You got to have patience.
- Measuring tape
- Pipe wrench
- Soldering kit
- Emery cloth
- Tube cutter
- Copper pipe
- Copper pipe joint
- Safety glasses
- Work gloves
Check to See If You Have Any More Green Pipes
When it comes to copper plumbing, it’s frequent to witness the pipe wear out all at once because the material’s 70-year shelf life usually ends abruptly.
Identify all the problem areas that are damaged, or turned greenish in the lining. While looking for all the problem areas sometimes helps in discovering the main reason leading to such corrosion.
Mark and measure each problem area to highlight what amount of repairing equipment and new pipes are required.
Determine If the Affected Pipe Can be Replaced
It’s typical to see damaged pipes that span a large area. For such a widespread issue, you must consult a professional plumber to check. But for small areas, you can take it into your account and fix by yourself.
So if there is a small amount of pipe damaged by green corrosion, then you can replace it easily. I’d recommend buying some extra than the requirement as it’ll allow you to make mistakes and yet have enough material to fix in the end.
Often, the problem arises inside the pipe and in such cases, trained professionals use pipe cameras to identify each unreachable green corrosion. If any of the green rust remains ignored, then it might make the water somewhat smelly and of weird taste.
Shut Off the Water
One of the crucial steps while fixing is to turn the water off. But unfortunately, most beginners tend to despise this step, which eventually results in remarkable damage to the water.
In the supply line, there is a valve handle that is labeled clearly. Use it to turn off the main supply line and also turn it back on after you’re done fixing your pipelines.
Using the Measurements
Remember you took the necessary measurements in the beginning? Yes, now they are going to help you cut down the piping to match those values.
For cutting, you can use a tube cutter or an angle grinder. You can even use a circular saw. But what if you do not have either of those tools? Well, there is unfortunately no easy substitute for those. You can buy a hacksaw or a tube cutter which are quite available in the shops.
Though you have to work manually with them, they can get your job done.
Clean Your Pipe
Certainly, plumbers know the best solutions to this problem, but it’s possible to clean the pipe and remove those discolorations by yourself.
Let’s begin to learn some easy-to-do cleaning methods to help you out.
- Combine equal amounts of salt, vinegar(white vinegar or apple cider vinegar), flour, And baking soda.
- Apply the mixture to the damaged areas with the help of a brush, you can use a toothbrush.
- Leave it for 30 minutes and then rinse it with soapy water and rag.
- Take one tablespoon of salt and ½ cup of lemon juice in a container.
- Take a cotton rag, soak it in the mixture and then rub it on the damaged surface.
- Allow the mixture to rest for some time.
- Then rinse it off using warm water.
- Repeat the process several times if the stains are stubborn.
Technique 3: Acetone
- Take a cloth and put a small amount of acetone on it.
- Rub the cloth on the damaged areas.
- Rinse the area well with normal water.
- Use hand gloves and be careful while using the chemical.
Solder Your Pipe In
Now that you have the cutting portions of your new pipes, you have to merge those pieces into one. And for this, you have to solder those pieces.
Soldering is a process where you include a third metal to combine two pieces of metal into one. This metal is often a thin wire that is melted onto the copper pipe to close the tiny gap between them.
When you have done soldering, finalize them by cleaning the pipes using a burring knife. Start using it from the inside of the cut lines. You can also use emery cloth for finishing the inside and the outside of the pipe. Before finalizing, put a thin layer of flux on the pipe’s exterior ends.
Time to Test
When the soldering is kept at rest for long enough in order to give it firmness, test the pipes. Take the help of another person by making them observe any presence of water leaks. It’s better not to trust your own eyes only but to test correctly.
Easy Way to Fix White Stuff on Copper Pipe
It’s easy to remove white rust from copper pipes. Let’s find out.
Take white vinegar. White vinegar contains 5% acetic acid. Soak it in a cloth and rub on the surface to clean the white stuff. Hard water stains, rust stains on sinks, and tarnish on brass and copper can all be removed using it.
An alternative is citric acid which can be found in lemon juice. Apply it the same way as vinegar.
Preventing Green and White Pipe Happenings
As I have already mentioned the key reasons behind such corrosions, now we will discuss prevention as prevention is always better than cure.
Installing a water treatment system can be a good choice to prevent this issue. A common factor causing pipes to turn green or white is the minerals of the water(causing acidic water).
So, purchasing the right treatment system will lessen the acidity of your water by reducing the number of minerals present as well as maintaining the water quality.
Another good option is replacing the pipes. Though this option is not that feasible as it can be pretty expensive and unnecessary
Below I have mentioned a few points which can be maintained easily and help you in the long run to prevent wearing out your pipes.
Check for Leaks on Regular Basis
It is important to ensure there are no leaks in the water pipes, even a tiny amount. If you find any holes or cracks, consult a plumber so that there is no potential damage in the future.
Clean the Pipes Regular
Corrosion can be also caused by dirt, debris, or other sorts of build-ups. Make sure to clean them regularly. To do so, you can use special pipe cleaners and for intense clogs, an auger can be handy.
Insulate Exposed Pipes
In order to prevent any kind of freezing or bursting due to low temperatures, you should keep your pipes insulated. Foam pipe insulation is an easy and inexpensive option for insulating so that there is no damage caused by the extreme change of temperature.
Regularly Inspect the Water Pressure
Maintain the water pressure level of your pipe within a normal range. Take help from a professional plumber if the pressure is below or above the range.
Inspect Water Line
Keep track of the waterline. It can seem extra, but trust me it will help you in the long run. Quickly inform any professional plumber if you notice any issue in the pipeline.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does Green on Copper Pipe Mean a Leak?
Yes, unfortunately indicates the presence of leaks and potential corrosion. The latter is particularly true if the water is causing other items, such as clothing, sinks, and fixtures, to become stained. I have already discussed it earlier in the article.
Q: Do Green Copper Pipes Need to be Replaced?
Not always you have to replace your copper pipes as it will cost you a lot. But if you notice certain changes like-
- When you start to detect musty odors that make it difficult to even use the bathroom in some areas
- When you notice a green crust developing around appliances like sinks and toilet bowls
- When you see a green crust forming on sinks and toilet bowls
In such cases, you have to check and look for changing the pipes with the new one.
Q: How Long Do Copper Water Pipes Last?
Copper pipes are renowned for their long useful lives which last 70 to 80 years. Whereas PVC piping lasts for only 24 to 50 years long.
There are no flawless things or things that endure forever. No matter what material you select for your pipework, it is evident that without the proper level of consciousness, it won’t last very long.
These discussions and remedies may not help you with widespread issues or problem areas lying in deep, but surely you have acknowledged enough to keep your waterlines in a good condition to run for a long enough time. And even if there is any issue, you decide whether to call a plumber or you can do it yourself.