Flushing copper pipe

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by loafer, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. loafer

    loafer Mechanical Engineer

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Maine
    Great forum! I've searched it extensively in the past mouth and found answers to most of questions.

    I recently rerouted some copper water lines in our 1980 house and discovered a significant amount of buildup in the hot water supply lines. The supply line from the hot water heater is 1/2in and there is about 1/16in buildup around the entire pipe ID, effectively reducing the ID to 3/8in. The depsoits appear to be iron and can be easily wiped out. The pipes appear to be in excellent condition otherwise. The house is on a well and has a sediment filter, but no water softener

    My question is; Is there a way to flush the hot water lines to remove this build up, or do I need to remove the pipes?

    Thanks!
    Josh
  2. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    Messages:
    584
    Location:
    MN, USA
    Yes it is possible to clean out the pipes using cleaners, like vinegar, but you will risk both creating leaks and plugging up faucets as the flakes come loose.

    I'm sure the phrase "if it works, don't fix it" comes to mind.
  3. loafer

    loafer Mechanical Engineer

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Maine
    So vineger might work?

    My thought was to flush most of the junk out the bathtub faucet, and remove the strainers from all the sinks.

    The gunk in the pipes has a texture more like really wet mud, it's not flakey or hard. Some of the pipes that I removed i was able to push the stuff out with a small peice of rag and a long piece of steel tubing to try and figure out what the stuff is. Once the water evaporated from my pile of goo it left a fine orange powder, which I figured was Iron. Very interesting stuff.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    deposits

    If it is that soft and movable, maybe a high pressure water or air flow would blow it out.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,013
    Location:
    New England
    Iron deposits probably won't be affected much by vinegar. If you could open the valves and build pressure so you got high flow, similar to how they flush out water lines on public systems by opening all of the fire hydrants, you might flush a bunch out. You'd probably need some sort of auxilliary pump.
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