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misslister 04-21-2011 11:33 PM

copper pipes hung with steel hangers 5 years ago
Hi, Thanks in advance for any advise. I had a plumber come today to change some pipes around for a shower, and he told me that the water pipes are corroded and in bad shape because the installer used metal wire hangers to support the pipe. The section where it enters the crawl space looked pretty green, with reddish hue to the pipes. He pulled one piece of the hanger away from the pipe and it looks like it has eaten into the pipe maybe 1/32 of an inch. He was telling me that the pipes will start to leak in a matter of time. Said that it would need to be re-piped at a cost of 2500-3000 dollars, not immediately, but if we developed a pinhole leak. Hubby was not here and was mad thinking the plumber was looking for a big job. Not sure what to do, call other plumbers, can it be fixed so it doesn't get worse? How to tell how bad it is just by looking at the pipe? We know nothing about copper pipe. The pipe was installed before we bought the house in june of 2006, so it's less than 5 years old, and we were led to believe the plumbing would be good for many years. What to do???

plumber666 04-22-2011 06:13 AM

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Replace the steel hangers with copper ones and wait for the leak that may or may not occur in the next 5 to 10 years.

Just Bill 04-22-2011 06:20 AM

It is called galvanic action, when two dissimilar metals are together. Get rid of different materials and the problem stops. Replace straps with plastic of copper.

AllanJ 04-22-2011 08:08 AM

I think (although I will not swear to it) that the plumber is pulling your leg.

The steel hanger will corrode before the copper pipe does.

We cannot rule out wearing away (abrading) of the copper pipe sliding back and forth through the hanger due to expansion and contraction.

Copper corrosion is green. Steel corrosion is reddish.

A thin green coating on the pipe is not a worry. Caked up green residues is a worry.

Did you get to see and feel the pipe yourself?

secutanudu 04-22-2011 08:34 AM

Even if the plumber was right, why would it cost thousands to fix? Why not just cut out small sections of pipe and replace with couplings?

DangerMouse 04-22-2011 08:44 AM

A cheap fix could be as simple as ripping some old pvc down the middle, then cut sections to slip between the two metals, or even using #30 felt to separate the two, yes?


misslister 04-22-2011 09:57 AM

The cheap fix sounds cheaper and easier than replacing the straps!

secutanudu 04-22-2011 09:58 AM

Or just buy some foam or rubber pipe insulation.

Docwhitley 04-22-2011 10:44 AM

I could be wrong about this but, I have always been taught that if a pipe is corroding then it will continue to corrode unless all of the corrosion is removed and the source of the corrosion is repaired.

So with that in mind there are a couple of things to consider here that can work.... I will go from least exspensive and tell you what the problems could be

1- Insulate the pipe or put some type of barrier between the strap and the pipe.- Will Slow the Corrosive effect but, the process has already started so I think it will still continue to corrode and will eventually leak.

2- Replace section of pipe that is corroded that you can see and replace all of the straps- This will stop those spots from corroding... but dont get your hopes up till you read my next comment that may expalin why the plumber said what he said

3- Replace the pipes and do the work the correct way- The Plumber pointed out the portion of the pipe that he could see. Chances are that is the entire house was re-piped by the same plumber then you could develop leaks elsewhere.

So I guess those are the 3 options... Always get a second opinion and be ready to ask questions. I think the first question I think of when talking about corroded pipes is " When doing the repair... If the banging of the pipes causes it to leak at another spot that was corroded... Does your price cover that?"

Mike Swearingen 04-22-2011 12:47 PM

All situations are different, but I built my home in 1977 and the plumber installed copper pipes with "V" shaped steel hangers. The pipe rests in the bottom of the V and the top of the V has two bent over spikes that are driven into floor joists. I have never had a leak due to corrosion.
Who knows? LOL

Red Squirrel 04-22-2011 03:08 PM

I would just put something made out of plastic between the hanger and the pipe, or replace all the hanger with the plastic ones made for pex. Also if you get lot of water hammer, install a water hammer arrestor. The water hammer will destroy the pipes faster then this slow corrosion process,I would think.

plumberinlaw 04-22-2011 04:25 PM

steel hangers on copper pipes are against code for the reason you stated. Buy copper or copper coated hangers, crawl under your house and replace every hanger you can find. I would not open any walls searching for a problem that has not happened yet.

mustangmike3789 04-22-2011 04:29 PM

justbill & allen j are corect with galvanic action. when dissimular metals are connected the most active (mild steel) metal is more rapidly corroded,while the more noble (copper) metal tends to be protected and corrodes less. a perfect example of this is a zinc anode on a boat or in your case steel straps on a copper pipe. on a boat, when the anode completely corrodes, it needs to be replaced or the corrosin will move on to the next highest active metal (the motor or electrical wires). all of the suggestions above are correct. you need to replace the steel hangers with the plastic ones or replace the corroded pipes.

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