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Old 05-17-2010, 04:54 PM   #1
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Cleaning Off Oxidized Copper Pipe


I'd like to get an idea if my pipe (domestic water) joints are still leaking by cleaning off some of the green gunk and checking back later. It looks like there was some minor seepage in places, but now looks sealed up (compression fittings mostly, but a little bit on solder work too). I see vinegar and salt being recommending, is this a good idea? Is a little bit of greenery on the outside of pipe okay or is it a sign that I need to toss the compression fittings and solder it up? No signs of recent leakage... Here is an example. Is this a candidate for re-do or should I just leave be?
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Last edited by smata67; 05-17-2010 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 05-17-2010, 05:24 PM   #2
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Cleaning Off Oxidized Copper Pipe


I would leave it be.

Are you sure that the greenery is due to water leaking as opposed to oxidation from leftover soldering flux together with condensation on the pipe over the years?

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Old 05-17-2010, 05:43 PM   #3
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Cleaning Off Oxidized Copper Pipe


The one showing the most oxidation is the hot and I don't have a trap, so I don't think it would be condensation. I did this 15 years ago, I can't recall if I wiped off the flux...
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:22 PM   #4
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Cleaning Off Oxidized Copper Pipe


If I remember my chemistry correctly, the green is copper oxide. Copper will oxidize in the presence of air and water, so if there was leakage that would promote oxidation ==> the green stuff. Flux is somewhat acidic as I recall, and acidic conditions also promote oxidation. The green oxide does come off nicely with vinegar and salt, however removal of the oxide does not prolong the life of the pipe, and serves little purpose except cosmetic.

You should be able to tell if the pipe is leaking by placing a paper towel on it. In the summer, my cold water pipes condense moisture, which confuses the issue of whether the pipe is leaking or condensing, but in the winter there is no condensation, so any water would be leakage.
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