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Old 05-17-2013, 09:25 PM   #1
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Algae in PVC pipes


Hey guys,

I have an office trailer outside of my house, which i connected by T-ing into my outside PVC lines to my garden hose.

Well long story short, the pvc got cracked and was leaking (very small leak) and I did not see it for a few months.- Actually I noticed after the water from the office faucet started smelling funny- so, I turned off the water and went to cut out and replace the section of pipe. When I cut out the leaking section and found algae (i think?) had started growing inside the pipe. Well I followed it down 10 feet in each direction, cut it out and replaced it...

BUT- The smell is still in the pipes, coming out the faucet. There is also a water heater that the water line runs through in the office building. I now fear algae has grown through the entire system (if possible? :/)

What can I do to clean the pipes?

- Do i need to douse chlorine or bleach into the lines? If so, how can I do this? and actually make sure it runs through the entire pipes after cutting it and losing water pressure again??

Please help, i am confused and desperate :P

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Old 05-17-2013, 10:30 PM   #2
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Algae in PVC pipes


It can no longer be used for potable water (ie you cannot drink, wash your hands or face with), since you have the contamination in the line. You have no choice but to replace all of that piping now, since there is no way you are going to be able to decontaminate it without causing other issues. Pictures also help in showing how the setup is for the house & trailer.

Your best bet is to bury Outdoor rated PEX, or Copper piping to allow you to place a connection for the trailer in a pit in the ground.

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Old 05-18-2013, 12:11 AM   #3
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Algae in PVC pipes


I can replace the line no problem, i was thinking of changing it to pex anyways... um, is it likely that the contamination seeped all the way into the water heater?

The distance from where the line leak was is 30 feet from the junction into the water heater.

it's all on concrete outdoors so i cant sink it in the ground, i have it pipe strapped to the house a few inches up.

nothing fancy, but i would like it to be potable... if possible :P
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Old 05-18-2013, 01:01 AM   #4
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Algae in PVC pipes


Yes, any contamination is going to be throughout the whole system. You can try bleaching the tank, but it really would need a good scrubbing to kill any algae inside. Yep, you are talking about quite a bit of work at hand here.
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:48 AM   #5
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Algae in PVC pipes


Okay, I am just gonna re-plumb the whole line all the way from the building to the water heater... (gonna cap for now before the water heater).

What can i do, if anything to decontaminate the water heater so i can use it again?
Is it possible to get a 30 gallon reservoir (new trash can) and put a bleach or chlorine solution in it and then push it through the water heater & out the faucets with a sump pump?? would this even do anything?

I am really hoping to figure a way through this without replacing the water heater, faucets, internal office lines, etc...

There is a bathroom/shower in the office and that is what I am really after getting going again.

Also- do i need to paint pex if its going outside like you do with pvc? or can i just run it without worry of sun exposure?

thanks a lot for your replies greg!

I guess the other option i'd have is to call a plumber, but i'd prefer not to...
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Old 05-18-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
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Algae in PVC pipes


You could try an algaecide like what is used in pools, or CLR. It is just that you would have to let it sit for a day probably to get rid of the algae. This gives hints on how to use CLR in the tank. http://www.essortment.com/appliance-...ter-15839.html
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Old 05-19-2013, 09:40 AM   #7
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Algae in PVC pipes


Awesome greg, I redid the whole run in pex, flushed the water heater all day yesterday and VIOLA, algae taste and smell is gone :D I am a happy camper again!

Thanks again for your help! I appreciate it greatly!
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Old 04-19-2014, 01:35 AM   #8
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Algae in PVC pipes


I have noticed that algae can grow on the insides of white pvc pipe that holds water and is exposed to bright sunlight. Apparently enough light leaks through to support the algal growth. I would imagine that garden hose could be even more permeable to sunlight.

I had a run of such PVC pipe that was exposed to sunlight for about 30 feet. It carries well water to a sprinkler system. At the outlet faucet there's a filter to keep debris out of some soaker hoses and bubblers also attached to same outlet. Anyway, I noticed that the flow (esp for the sprinklers ) would slow to a crawl after a number of months. I would find the filter clogged with emerald green algae. Other lines that are served by the same well pump are not exposed to sunlight, and their filters do not get clogged with the algae.

My solution has been to paint the exposed pvc pipe with dark brown or black latex paint. This seems to have eliminated the filter clogging.

The dark latex paint is relatively cheap, and it also helps to protect the white pvc from UV degradation. I usually get paint seconds from the home improvement store (amazing how many people mix up such dark colors and then decide they don't like it). That makes it even cheaper. I got my last gallon of nearly black brown latex paint for all of $9.

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