Green copper pipe corrosion (3 preventative methods)

This blog post will explain the topic, “green copper corrosion” and cover topics like why are copper pipes greening, how to remove the patina from copper pipes, and frequently asked questions.

What causes green corrosion on copper pipes?

Green corrosion on copper pipes is caused by oxidation. Oxidation causes tarnish, or the greenish color that occurs on copper pipes. When copper is exposed to moisture and oxygen for an extended period of time, it oxidizes. While the oxidized layer isn’t dangerous, it does damage the copper. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the patina is not really the issue.

Why Are Your Copper Pipes Greening?

Copper is one of the greatest materials for your house pipework, although it might become green on occasion. This is caused by copper’s long-term contact with oxygen and other atmospheric elements. Patina is the word for the green color on your copper pipes.

If you see this green color on your pipes, it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right. If you see a green tinge, you should have a professional plumber inspect the condition.

It’s not always simple to remember your pipes when it comes to the protection of items around the house. We seldom worry about the plumbing in our houses until there is an issue, such as a leak or a blockage.

When the substance in your pipes becomes old and worn, you may not even notice you have a problem. Copper pipes, for an instance, will become green, which may be induced by a variety of factors.

Pipe Material Types

The plumbing materials used by homebuilders have evolved throughout time. Pipes consisting of iron, steel, or even lead are often seen in older dwellings. More contemporary residences, on the other hand, will almost certainly be equipped with PVC or copper tubing. 

These materials are simpler to work with, lighter, and have a longer lifespan. PVC and copper are much less prone to corrosion and can be reused, making them ideal for ecologically conscious builders. Copper, for an instance, is recognized for being a hard and durable metal.

What is the cause of the green color on copper pipes?

Oxidation causes tarnish, or the greenish color that occurs on copper pipes. When copper is exposed to moisture and air for an extended period of time, it oxidizes. While the oxidized layer isn’t dangerous, it does create corrosion in the copper. Copper oxide is the green color, and it is caused by the metal decaying.

The Statue of Liberty in Nyc is one of the most well-known examples of copper oxide. The greenish color is the result of the copper oxidizing on the exterior of the statue, which has been around for a long period.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that the patina isn’t the issue. Your copper pipes may benefit from a coating of corrosion. This is due to the fact that it develops a more water-resistant tube that is less susceptible to other reactions.

The patina on copper tubing, on the other hand, indicates that the plumbing operation was not completed properly in the first place.

Patina’s Effect on Your Plumbing

Patina might indicate that your pipes are leaking. It may also result in larger leakage, which will be more expensive in the long term. Furthermore, drinking water that has traveled through copper tubing and has a green color is harmful to your health. It may harm your skin and hair as well as create health concerns.

It’s possible that the leaks generating corrosion on your copper pipes aren’t particularly large. Instead, tiny fractures in the pipe might be the source of the issue. 

There are three major reasons why this can be a problem:

  • Water from a well.
  • Chloramines.
  • Corrosion of particles.

Water from a well

If the pH level in well water is too low, it might harm the pipes. If your water comes from a well and your copper tubing has patina, it’s a good idea to check the pH level of your well liquid. Anything below 6.5 degrees Celsius might create problems in your pipes. It might be the source of the pinhole leakage. It also has the potential to allow the lead to leak into your water system, posing a major health danger.

Chloramines

This chlorine-and-nitrogen-based chemical is often used to sanitize municipal water sources. They might, however, be the source of your copper tubing developing small holes and leaking, resulting in patina and a larger issue for you.

Corrosion of particles

Corrosion may occur in old pipes and water heaters, causing metallic fragments to come into touch with your copper tubing. These metallic fragments might be scratching the copper, creating pinhole leaks.

Resolving the Patina Issue

It’s unpleasant to see a greenish color on your copper pipes. You may be worried if you discover that your home’s plumbing is not performing as well as it might. There are, nevertheless, certain methods for repairing tiny leakage in copper pipes. The more pressing dilemma is what to do with your copper tubing that has already developed a patina. 

Because the source of your pipes’ degradation may not be something you can manage, it may be advisable to consider replacing them. While this may seem to be a difficult and costly repair, it may save you money in the long run if your pipes persist to leak.

Whatever is creating the leaks, it is recommended to contact a professional plumber who can assess the problem and assist you in repairing or replacing your pipes so that the water passing through them is acceptable to use in your house.

What Causes Copper Pipes to Green?

The following are the two most common causes why copper pipes become green:

  • Chemical Interactions
  • Corrosion

I will now elaborate on them.

Chemical Interactions

When the color of your pipes changes from deep green to black, it’s generally due to the presence of sewage gas. Copper darkens as a result of high sulfur content, giving a distinct deep green or even black 

tint. This might also indicate that your pipe came into touch with non-compatible metals like galvanized steel. 

While this isn’t very harmful, it may be a risk. This is particularly true when working with low-cost copper. Builders may use low-cost copper with a significant impurity content to create pipes. There’s no chance you’ll see this at first. However, these contaminants will eventually show up on the tube’s surface, darkening it. 

The copper of lower grade may break more quickly than copper of higher quality. Not to mention the fact that you have no idea what it’s comprised of or if it poses a health risk. It’s critical to put your faith in your plumber at all times.

Corrosion

Corrosion is the primary cause of copper pipe corrosion. In reality, when copper is exposed to the atmosphere, it oxidizes, resulting in a patina. While short-term exposure isn’t a problem, it does result in patina over time. Patina is the oxidized coating on copper that has become green or bluish-green in color. 

Copper oxide, a byproduct of copper combining with oxygen, is responsible for the hue. While patina is really not hazardous in and of itself, if left unchecked, it will corrode the pipe and cause it to explode. The green tint you see is really the copper rusting. Copper oxidizes to a green tint, while iron corrosion is often observed as red.

How to remove green corrosion from copper pipes?

Because many common home chemicals are acidic, the patina interacts with them, which is a good thing. These are the ones that can provide you with the greatest outcome.

  • Lemonade
  • Coffee in its natural state
  • Vinegar

I will now elaborate on the guidance given above.

Lemonade

Lime juice is very acidic, which makes it an excellent cleaning agent. It also has a pleasant aroma, which is always a plus. 

Steps of removing green corrosion with lemonade:

  • To prepare a decent lime juice for cleaning, use 1 part tap water and 1 part lime juice. 
  • Dip the pipe in it for approximately half an hour before brushing it clean. 
  • This should be sufficient to remove the unsightly green tinge.

Coffee in its natural state

Coffee seems to be the last item on your mind when it comes to cleaning. Everything, from clothing to teeth, is stained. It is, however, quite acidic, which makes it ideal for cleaning the patina. Unless the tubes are designed to withstand very extreme temps, don’t use hot coffee. 

Allow the coffee to cool before soaking the pipe in it, exactly as you would with lime juice. Just make sure you don’t spritz it on the walls since it can ruin them! Wait a few minutes before scrubbing everything down with a brush or a moist towel. This will restore the appearance of your pipe.

Vinegar

All vinegar is quite acidic. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s black vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar; it’s all acidic. It’s so acidic, in fact, that you don’t even need to immerse the pipe in it. Spritz the pipe with pure vinegar and scrape it with a cloth or brush. Allow the vinegar to settle for a few minutes before scrubbing again if the hue persists. This is fantastic for old spots that just won’t go away.

Steps of removing green corrosion with vinegar:

  • Prepare a mixture of vinegar, salt, and flour if you want to go the extra mile. 
  • Combine a teaspoon of salt, one cup of vinegar, and the necessary quantity of flour in a mixing bowl. 
  • This may make creating a combination that will sit nicely on the pipe before washing simpler. It’s not always essential to use flour; sometimes it’s just for texture.
  • After you’ve removed the patina of the pipe, wipe it all down with olive oil. 
  • The pipe will sparkle like new after being cleaned with olive oil. It also won’t harm anything and is completely safe to use without leaving an adhesive residue. 
  • This will give the visible section of your pipe system a more luxurious appearance.
Materials Needed
Vinegar
Lemonade
Coffee
Salt
Flour

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Green copper corrosion?”

What causes green corrosion on copper water pipes?

Copper is removed out of the pipes and subsequently stored elsewhere, causing copper pipe green corrosion. As the copper in your pipes deteriorates, you may notice small pinhole leakage.

How do you stop copper from oxidizing?

Spraying or painting copper with a specific sort of sealer is a fast and simple technique to keep metal from deteriorating. This sealer is typically easily accessible on the market and does an excellent task of maintaining copper parts airtight.

How do you clean corroded copper?

  • To produce a thick paste, combine ¼ cup salt, ¼ cup flour, and enough vinegar to form a paste. 
  • Massage the paste onto the copper’s surface using a delicate cloth. Buff the copper object to a gleaming finish. 
  • Rinse well with lukewarm water and dry completely.

What does green on pipes mean?

Sewer and drainage lines are green pipes. Recovered wastewater is transported via lavender or violet pipelines, where it is filtered and disinfected before being reused for agriculture.

What happens to copper when it oxidizes?

Oxidized copper is a kind of rust that occurs when copper oxidizes to cu2o, then cuprous or cupric sulfide, and ultimately copper carbonate in a 3 step process. It results in the formation of a green-colored copper coating, or tarnish, over time.

Can copper pipes corrode?

Copper is, in fact, more corrosion resistant than iron and steel. Copper and lead, on the other hand, are susceptible to a variety of different forms of corrosion. If your copper tubing is spilling, you’ll need our help to fix or replace them so that the problem doesn’t happen again.



References:

https://www.brothersplumbing.ca/blog/plumbing/why-your-copper-pipes-are-turning-green/#:~:text=Patina%2C%20or%20the%20greenish%20colour,the%20copper%20to%20become%20corroded.&text=It%20is%20important%20to%20remember,itself%20isn’t%20the%20problem.

https://www.nuflowmidwest.com/is-copper-pipe-corrosion-causing-my-plumbing-pipes-to-change-color/

https://www.uswatersystems.com/water-problems/corrosion

https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/104922/green-residue-on-the-joints-of-copper-water-pipes

https://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Pipe_Leak_Causes.php

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/how-to/how-to-stop-copper-pipe-corrosion

https://www.newater.com.au/help-advice/copper-pipe-corrosion

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