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13 comments
Participant

Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1

Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/04/2008 9:40 AM

I have a pressyre problem with my Hot Water. I have a two Storey House.

What is the best way to Flush or Clean inside of Copper Piping??

Ken B

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Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: South East of Las Vegas just far enough to see the lights but far enough to not hear the coins falling
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#1

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/04/2008 10:52 PM

Clean out the bottom of your water heater first.The pipes are probably ok.

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Associate

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 54
Good Answers: 2
#2

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/04/2008 11:02 PM

You have a real problem. First, you need to find out if you have a calcium scale deposit that has built around the inside walls of piping. More than likely that (calcium)is causing you problems. Calcium deposits generally "plate out" in higher temperature areas, such as hot water lines and heaters.

Removing the calcium is quite easy-- many acids will remove calcium but will also attack copper, especially when oxygen in water is present. Another consideration: If you begin removing the "calcium salt" deposit down to bare copper walls, then you may find that pin holes in copper pipe may be covered with deposits that have prevented leakages. My suggestion is to be readily prepared to run new lines before attempting to remove deposits.i.e., have someone available who can do the new installation before attempting any amount of removal.

One way you can remove the deposits, with a degree of safety, would be with inhibited sulfamic acid. Note that I have said inhibited sulfamic and not sulfuric.Pump diluted sulfamic into the lines and let stand for several hours. Purge with water and see if you have improved the flow. You may need to do this several times because the acid becomes "spent" or neutralized as it reacts with calcium.

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Power-User
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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 1:01 AM

First check chemical quality of water from a lab and treat the water based on lab report the lab would be better placed to advice you on treatment to be adapted please note treatment of water will cost you but worth it considering the replacement cost of copper pipes and down time.

crm

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#4

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 1:12 AM

Ken B,

Think first about the calcium deposits inside your pipes which may be beneficial. The normally thin layer of deposit is a protection against harmful materials used to join the pipes together.

I too have and old two story house and had a pressure problem due size of piping used to carry water to the second floor. I replaced the improperly sized pipe with correct PEX and used a manifold. The manifold is a distribution point of all HW lines, I put a "T" fitting just down stream from HW heater out put and fed hot water into each end of the manifold eliminating the pressure drop scenario. "DIY" has a segment on this check it out.

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Participant

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#5

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 7:01 AM

Ken - I have had a Valliant Combi boiler for 10 years and when it was installed it was recommended that I fit a water softener for the house. recently the 'radiator' in the boiler had to be replaced from plastic to stainless steel; but on examination there was no build up of deposits in the pipework which is mainly 15m/m around the house.

All the hot and cold water for the appliances use the water softener, but all the drinking water is direct from the mains. The system works well generally but the incoming water supply is often too low for a good pressure at the shower head!! - but the shower head jets do not require any cleaning.

Perhaps the water softener approach might gradually reduce the deposits in a more gentle way rather than some of the more extreme alternatives - Cheers, Jack

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#6

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 8:39 AM

Where I work they recently replaced the water pipes in the area. There was a 2" cast iron pipe feeding the building that had built up with deposits to the point where there was not more than 3/4" of open area for the water to flow through. Have you checked for water flow from the municipality. If they are using cast iron, and it is old, the cleaning or replacement of your copper tubing might be ineffective. The piping in this area was from the 40s. Hope this helps.

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#7

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 9:40 AM

Since I replied to your problem yesterday, I began thinking that rather using inhibited sulfamic acid, you would be much better off using phosphoric acid or possibly EDTA, chemically known as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Since you would probably have a hard time finding EDTA you would probably easily find phosphoric acid at your city's waste treatment facility where it should be available in bulk quantities.

Phosphoric is the major chemical in those TV adds that show " deposit removers from shower heads,toilets, tubs,etc.Again, you would need to dilute and recirculate in your lines. You can obtain a small chemical pump that would do the job well.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 7:40 PM

How then to protect from copper pipe sweating materials primarily lead, mercury and silver after removing the deposit?

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 11:42 PM

You can't.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/05/2008 11:53 PM

Right answer so to correct problem replace pipe with PEX and implement a manifold system to recover pressure value.

And as another post suggested ascertain integrity of municipal supply piping.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/06/2008 12:20 AM

Excellent post... we do complete whole house Pex repipes in about 2days with great results.

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/06/2008 7:42 AM

What is PEX?

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Associate

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: Cleaning Copper Pipes

05/14/2008 12:50 PM

I had the same problem with my house. A 2 story house with boiler in basement, it is a summer/winter setup ie. hot water on demand not a large storage tank. A plumber friend told me that they used to used some kind of acid to flush the water heater section of the furnace, but the acid is nasty stuff and the fumes are strong. We used white distilled vinegar. I had a submersible pump and filled a bucket with a gallon of vinegar. The valving setup should let you isolate the heater from the rest of the houses water. There are also 2 faucets attached to the plumbing so I attached extra washer lined from the pump to the heater and from the heater back into the bucket. I would run it for a while in one direction and then switch hoses to run it backwards, maybe 15min at a time. I then repeated with water and then water again. The vinegar took a bunch of green stuff (copper sulfate) out and the flow improved noticably. This is not a perfect fix, but it does make an improvement. Plus its cheap and easy to ddo yourself.

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