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Thread: Dark brown goo inside copper water line

  1. #1

    Default Dark brown goo inside copper water line

    Yesterday I replaced a very old non functioning water softener. To remove the old one I had to cut the 3/4" copper lines going in and out of the softener. When I cut the incoming line I noticed the inside of the pipe was coated in this very dark brown, almost black goo (photo looks more brown than black because of the flash). It's odorless and has a texture like watered down mud. The line on the outlet side of the softener did not have this build up on it. Is this just iron deposits? How can I get this out of my pipes? It bothers me to know that it's in there. I would assume this crud goes all the way back out of my house and to the main water connection on the street. I am on a residential water supply. My city gets it's water from ground source wells and is extremely hard (450-500ppm) or about 25grains of hardness.
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  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    See what the plumbers have to say, but from my limited experience, it's normal. It actually helps preserve the copper. I doubt there is any way to get rid of it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking It is normal

    that looks tastey....

    its probably a normal build up over a long time...

    if you try to mess with the system by flushing something
    through it you might make it worse,,, with it slowly clogging
    up faucets with residue breaking free...

    their might be something out there to do it with
    like bleach but you would be best to leave it alone


    perhaps put in a better water conditioner.

  4. #4
    Mechanical Engineer loafer's Avatar
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    I have the same build up in my pipes, but it's only on the hot water lines. My pipes are 1/2in copper and 28 years old. I'm on a well though.

  5. #5
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Does the water taste different now that you have seen the goo?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    Does the water taste different now that you have seen the goo?
    After I disturbed the plumbing during the installation of the new water softener, I had to open the taps full before I got clear water again. I have a reverse osmosis system for the drinking water. There's no way I'll drink our city's tap water.

    I guess I'll have to live with the goo.

  7. #7
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Water actually does have "stuff" in it! There are water standards that water companies have to meet. I would ask your local water supplier what it is. They will know. They will also tell you that they spend a lot of money to make the water clean and safe to drink.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There's a reason why cities periodically flush the main water lines. Mine does it maybe once a year or so, and afterwards, for the next 12-hours or so, depending on use, the water is not clear. There's no way to remove everything from the water they pump. That doesn't make it unhealthy. Any time you disturb your pipes, you break crud free. You'll also notice this if you shut your main off, drain the system then restore pressure. The insurge of water will disturb the coating there and wash some of it away. You also might notice it if there was a fire around nearby - the high flow from using the hydrants is the same process they use to flush the lines.

    Admittedly, some places have lousy (but still safe) drinking water, but some places, the water is significantly better than the filtered and bottled stuff people spend big bucks on. Look at Dessanti, as an example...it's tap water that is filtered, then sits in the plastic bottle for who knows how long. Personally, I think it tastes raunchy. I can filter it better locally, and then don't have the plastic taste, either. Where I grew up, they had spring fed public water supply until we outgrew it (then they started to use lake water which was nasty in comparison). It was wonderful stuff.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    A whole lot of that expensive bottled water is tapwater.

    Last edited by Redwood; 04-08-2008 at 07:43 PM.

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    Sr. IT Analyst spryde's Avatar
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    I know I am a little late but this is part of the reason DC got into trouble with lead contamination. There is a naturally occurring 'lining' of the pipes called biofilm that actually protects the pipe and prevents most leaching of metals into the water. When DC changed from chlorine to chloramines and back again in 2003/2004, the biofilm dissolved and a lot of the lead pipes in the city started to leach at higher rates than before. That 'goo' is good and from what most testing can tell, does not contribute to any deleterious effects on water quality (rather the opposite). I am sure that if it did, DC would have had a lot bigger issue than it did with just the lead.

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  11. #11
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. Scott View Post
    Yesterday I replaced a very old non functioning water softener. To remove the old one I had to cut the 3/4" copper lines going in and out of the softener. When I cut the incoming line I noticed the inside of the pipe was coated in this very dark brown, almost black goo (photo looks more brown than black because of the flash). It's odorless and has a texture like watered down mud. The line on the outlet side of the softener did not have this build up on it. Is this just iron deposits? How can I get this out of my pipes? It bothers me to know that it's in there. I would assume this crud goes all the way back out of my house and to the main water connection on the street. I am on a residential water supply. My city gets it's water from ground source wells and is extremely hard (450-500ppm) or about 25grains of hardness.
    ummmm... since you have this residual dirt in the inlet, and none in the outlet, your softener can not be accused of doing nothing... and this proves my statements that most softeners do not need a prefilter unless the control valve gags on invisible dirt. This dirt has been backwashed out of your softener or you'd see it in the oulet plumbing too.

    It may be some ferric iron (rust) or more likely, it is natural and simply invisible sediment build up; all waters have invisible dirt in them. It is harmless. BTW, nature is not pristine as we seem to think it ought to be today.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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