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Thread: Substance on the outside of copper fittings

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Default Substance on the outside of copper fittings

    A friend of mine has an electric hot water tank, with a hot water recycling system. It appears that on a lot of the fittings, there is a substance that is forming on the outside of the fittings. I wouldn’t think that all of the fittings are leaking but I guess anything is possible. He does have a water softener, so I wouldn’t think that the substance is calcium.
    I have sent two photos. The first one is of two ball valves above the hot water tank, and the other photo is of a check valve in the hot water recycling sustem.

    Thank you for your comments,
    Mike
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    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    That looks like pipe dope to me for sealing the threads. If it's not hardened, you could wipe it off and it won't return.

    Jason

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lakee911 View Post
    That looks like pipe dope to me for sealing the threads. If it's not hardened, you could wipe it off and it won't return.

    Jason
    Thanks Jason, but it's not pipe dope. This substance is semi hard, but when you take it off the pipe it will crush between your fingers. It forms almost like a stalagmite. You can wipe it off, and it will form again.

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    DIY Member fidodie's Avatar
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    looks like it is collecting on just the brass, and not on the copper...correct?

    did you taste it yet?
    Pat

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidodie View Post
    looks like it is collecting on just the brass, and not on the copper...correct?

    did you taste it yet?
    You are correct, it is just on the brass, and not the copper. Now that you said that, I will look again, and see if any is on the copper fittings. I did taste it, and it had no taste. I thought it might taste salty, but it didn't.

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    DIY Member fidodie's Avatar
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    This is the best i could find

    http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/For...ive/dezinc.htm
    http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/For...zinc-valve.htm
    read the last paragraph - sounds like a hot water loop.

    dezincification

    unless it is environmental, or the result of the flux not being cleaned off (the green on the copper is telltale) or some other contamination from handling. you'd think it wouldn't come back after a good wipe tho.

    cann't be the result of condensation since it is a warm pipe, well, it could get cold if you run out of hot long enough, but typically that would be the end of the shower!

    but it wouldn't even come close to the amount of water the copper in my sprinkling system condenses - it is always wet. and the check valve doesn't look like that (same one)

    interesting one. you really tasted it ?
    Last edited by fidodie; 01-30-2008 at 11:09 AM.
    Pat

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidodie View Post
    This is the best i could find

    http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/For...ive/dezinc.htm
    http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/For...zinc-valve.htm
    read the last paragraph - sounds like a hot water loop.

    dezincification

    unless it is environmental, or the result of the flux not being cleaned off (the green on the copper is telltale) or some other contamination from handling. you'd think it wouldn't come back after a good wipe tho.

    cann't be the result of condensation since it is a warm pipe, well, it could get cold if you run out of hot long enough, but typically that would be the end of the shower!


    but it wouldn't even come close to the amount of water the copper in my sprinkling system condenses - it is always wet. and the check valve doesn't look like that (same one)

    interesting one. you really tasted it ?
    [B]Yeah, it's a strange one. On the check valve it looks like it's coming out of the top section, and that's not soldered on...ie no flux. I just got off of the phone with Watts and I am going to E-mail them the pictures too. They said that they would look at it, and try and help me out. If I find out anything, I'll post it. Thanks for your responce, for sure.

    Mike

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    Could it be fungus growing wherever there is condensation?

    Clean it off, see what happens.

    It looks like lime or something. Keep in mind that a softener doesn't actually remove minerals from water, it just changes their valence so they don't stick. So, when they hit the air, they can still create deposits.

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    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    I white on brass....dezincification.
    Water softener may not be doing its thing.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herk View Post
    Could it be fungus growing wherever there is condensation?

    Clean it off, see what happens.

    It looks like lime or something. Keep in mind that a softener doesn't actually remove minerals from water, it just changes their valence so they don't stick. So, when they hit the air, they can still create deposits.
    The home owner has cleaned if off, and with in six months or so, it returns. At this point, I'm open for anything...even a fungus. Like one of the members mentioned, it looks like it's forming just on the brass fittings. I called the home owner yesterday, and he's going to check if there is any on the copper pipe, or copper fittings. I don't think that the solder joints on the ball valves are leaking. I could remove the top of the check valve, and grease it, and reseal it, to see if the growth stops.
    Thank you for your input!

  11. #11
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Can you unthread it, clean the threads and reseal it with teflon tape and or pipe dope?

    It may just be a very slow leak.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default substance

    Probably minute leaks. The water evaporates almost immediately before it creates a puddle, but the minerals stay behind.

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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    Can you unthread it, clean the threads and reseal it with teflon tape and or pipe dope?

    It may just be a very slow leak.
    Yeah, that's what I was thinking of doing, ("unthread it, clean the threads and reseal it"). If that works for the check valve, I might, (like you said) have a really, really small leak in the ball valves. I didn't install the check valve, but I've ran it into the past, if when soldering it in to place, if you get it over heated, it can start leaking from the top. I did install the ball valves so if it stops at the check valve, I'll re-solder the ball valves.
    One of the readers also mentioned that maybe the water softener might not be doing it's job. I think I"m going to get one of those test strips, and test it at the check valve.
    I did send the photos to Watts, (the makers of the valves) but they haven't gotten back to me yet....maybe today.
    Thank you for your input, for sure!

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    DIY Member fidodie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Probably minute leaks. The water evaporates almost immediately before it creates a puddle, but the minerals stay behind.
    this sounds good - it looks like these valves are on the horizontal, and the substance is "on the bottom" ??? my original thought was vertical, this would also explain the oxidation on the copper. evaporation would be accelerated by the warm pipe....
    Pat

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    Buy or Rent the necessary tools.
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    DIY Senior Member Mikebarone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidodie View Post
    this sounds good - it looks like these valves are on the horizontal, and the substance is "on the bottom" ??? my original thought was vertical, this would also explain the oxidation on the copper. evaporation would be accelerated by the warm pipe....
    It’s just so strange that all three of the brass fittings are doing the same thing, and therefore all three are leaking…could happen. There is a lot of that foam pipe wrap that is covering up a lot of the other joints in the pipe, (that are copper). I will take off the wrap and see what’s going on there too.

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