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  1. #1
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    Default Copper water line corroding at joints

    Hey all,

    This is a 11 year old house. All water lines are copper and the ones that I could see had this same type of corrosion. All I can think of is that this is lead solder and the dissimilar metals are corroding. If that is the case, what would be the recommended comments to the client. If not then what would be your comments on the issue.

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  2. #2
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Is the water for this house from a well? Low PH in well water can cause corrosion of copper pipes....just a thought.


  3. #3
    Kary Krismer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Is that corrosion or just a really bad soldering job?

    In either case I would suggest that the water be tested for lead. If it was an amateur they might not have been using the proper solder.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    The water is public. Not sure about the lead though.
    My thought is the solder joint(s). If it is, is there as issue in the future of leaks? Should there be a recommendation for a plumber to investigate further? Should they have all the joints cleaned and examined? Or...who would investigate this, if not a plumber?
    Thanks

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  5. #5
    David Bell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Excess flux was left on the joints of the copper giving that wonderful looking green corrosion, must have been the apprentices job that day.


  6. #6
    wayne soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    i agree, looks like a non pro application and should alert you to non pro apps at other systems as well.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Lead solder does not cause corrosion. Look to flux for corrosion, but not an issue if that was the worst of it in my book.
    Copper oxidizes in air, ever see the Statue of Liberty?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  8. #8
    Ron Hasil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    From what I see in the pictures is there is the green corrosion with the white corrosion, so I would recommend replacing all the fittings. If it was just the copper turning green near the fittings it could of been cleaned up and saved.

    Here are pictures of fittings that are to far gone, and should be replaced ASAP.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    As others have said, it is from the flux that was used when the joints were soldered. I don't see it as an issue.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  10. #10
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    Post Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Excess flux. Joints were not wiped when the work was done. Very poor workmanship, and the oxidation occurring due to the excess flux will result in pinhole leaks. Real nice, when the piping is inside walls, such as bathrooms.

    Randy Aldering, RHI CHI
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  11. #11
    Kary Krismer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    My point about lead is related to the workmanship. My understanding is that the low lead solder is harder to work with, and my concern is that if the plumber that installed this wasn't that good they might have not used the proper solder because they found it too hard to work with. Or they might not even have known about the proper solder to use.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    As Ron Hassil said, the first photograph, especially on the right shows MORE than just green which is indicative of flux/acid not being cleaned, it shows a long line of white scale!

    This trail on the right indicates a leak, pinhole though it may be, which may be pluged only by scale presently.The joint could not have been done correctly to begin with (not filled completely, over heated, etc.), suffered impact damage, might be erosion or friction, pipes freezing, agressive water, pipe may have been pierced, leak may be from higher than we see not at the joint we see at the top right, or may be a sign of an inproper valve used above and out of sight, which is "de-zinc-ifying" and condensation is flowing on the exterior.

    The poor design, failure to isolate, execution, and lack of support, are all indications of an amature post-original construction modification (each and every "white" and "green" shown on the piping in the first photo.

    What we see in the first photograph, upper right, IS something to be concerned about, and merely cleaning the exterior of the pipe is not enough - the source of the white scale, determining the cause, and remediating. Cleaning off the joint above the white scale may in fact expose and re-open a scale-filled hole (like the little dutch boy's finger in the d-yke). The entire mess modification needs to be reviewed and remediated by a qualified plumber, frankly system review of the design modification by a master level plumber most likely, depends.

    Similar concerns regarding the "design and execution" of the "straight T-drop seen in one the third photo.

    Yes, agreed, obvious unqualified modification work of questionable design and execution, obvious not original system design, needs at a minimum, professional review, and correction/remediation (above and beyond cleaning flux and green corrosion off the pipe joints), the design and execution of the post-construction modifications pictured.

    P.S. The routing of path of the unsecured electrical cable in the first two photographs are also indications of unqualified electrical work - and with the plumbing showing signs of active leaking past or present, over said electrical cable - would justify warning or cautionary report language.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-22-2010 at 09:03 AM.

  13. #13
    Ron Hasil's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Thing is these are flux related corrosion, which turns the copper green, if caught early its not an issue. But when you get the white beards that means water is weeping out at the joints.

    I had a home owner once made the mistake of listening to a non-plumber and clean off the white beards and green corrosion on the joints. Shortly after they did that (about an hour I was told) the home owner heard a gush of water, she ran down stairs to find one of the joints she cleaned sprung a massive leak. caused lots of water damage.

    Thats why I said in the pictures provided it looks like the joints already are forming the white bearded corrosion which is a sign the problem went to long and should be replaced.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    I note the photo dates are 2009/01/08, which I take it to be January 8, 2009. Prior personal sale or professional inspection report haunting you, or return visit to a property (If I read correctly you're recently re-entering the biz in a new geographical area)?

    Quote Originally Posted by David D. Whitt View Post
    I wasn't back in business yet. We relaunched the company after we moved from Colorado Springs to Alabama, in 2010. Her inspection was in Sept. of 09.

    I'm strongly suspecting two issues, prior unqualified (and likely unpermitted) modifications to both electrical and plumbing systems (insulated duct route ?able as well), and possible prior freezing episode(s).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 06-22-2010 at 09:36 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    I note the photo dates are 2009/01/08, which I take it to be January 8, 2009. Prior personal sale or professional inspection report haunting you, or return visit to a property (If I read correctly you're recently re-entering the biz in a new geographical area)?



    I'm strongly suspecting two issues, prior unqualified (and likely unpermitted) modifications to both electrical and plumbing systems (insulated duct route ?able as well), and possible prior freezing episode(s).
    H.G.,
    The quote you referenced is from a review of an inspection from a home inspector in my area and had to do with asbestos and was not one of mine from a previous inspection.
    With regard to the water pipes, what type of language can be used to indicate a problem Could exist if not remedied.

    David D. Whitt
    1st Steps Home Inspections

  16. #16
    jakcap's Avatar
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Two Words....Hard Water

    House needs a water conditioning system....??Culligan??


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Hi David,

    I see you are in Alabama, and my interpretation of the Alabama Home Inspector Standards of Practice is that you are required to report plumbing water supply and distribution components, that in your opinion, are significantly deficient.

    From the limited view of the photographs it appears to me that there is a significantly deficient connection of the water pipes as indicated by the green and white discolorations / corrosion. This symptom is common when excessive flux or other poor workmanship deficiencies of a copper plumbing solder connection. I suspect a pin hole leak and recommend further evaluation by a licensed/qualified plumber. I suspect there may be other connections with a similar deficiency that are concealed behind finished walls. I recommend the correction of this deficiency before a leak occurs and causes additional damage to the home.

    I am in MA, and write up this component that is In Need of Repair and Report On the component in my inspection report including the Readily Observable Signs.

    There is a lot of great advice on Inspection News. Remember to make sure that your report and recommendations (if required) are consistent with the terminology and regulatory requirements of your license.

    -Jim-
    Centsable Inspection


  18. #18
    Daniel Himan's Avatar
    Daniel Himan Guest

    Default Re: Copper water line corroding at joints

    Holy Cow, Looks homeownerized. Has anybody seen the results of Fraking on copper pipe?


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