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Thread: Cleaning off flux [better late than never]

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member Taylor's Avatar
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    Default Cleaning off flux [better late than never]

    Soldered all the pipes of my main bathroom, got good input from here and will post pix when I am closer to completion.... At the end, exhausted, figured I'd wipe off the flux the next day, or the day after.... Anyway a few months later, putting on the pipe insulation and I see the tell-tale signs of green....

    So my quick question is, is there a recommended way to clean off flux that has dried onto the pipe at this point? I've tried soap and water and a rag, the pipes still feel sticky in places (I had flux on my gloves as I was handling the pipes). At this point I'm thinking white vinegar and a pot scrubber, unless someone informs me of the error of my ways....

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Grab the torch you soldered the piping with, flux and a flux brush and wipe the flux on the green areas. Heating this up will remove the corrosion and it's best to wipe the piping clean with a new rag.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member Taylor's Avatar
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    Oh boy.....

    Drain the water first?

    Do this the entire length of the pipe? I was handling it with flux-covered gloves, that stuff is messy. Although green is localized, I assume it may appear in other places later, like where pipe is sticky.

    Any danger of accidentally undoing joints (solder flows out when I heat it)?

    I've been able to remove green with a pot scrubber, just wonder if this is good enough. I know white vinegar recommended for cleaning up copper ornaments. Also heard of baking soda in water....

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    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    If the entire piping is like this, I wouldn't think that this would be a good idea of what I mentioned, I was assuming that it was only around the solder joints themselves. Go with the pot scrubber idea and call it quits on the stuff that doesn't easily come off.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Does alcohol disolve it? I know that is what I use on electronics to remove the flux (but that is rosin, not acid based).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Taylor's Avatar
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    Reporting back: I can report that white vinegar and a pot scrubber do a good job of removing the green. It also restored a nice shiny lustre to the copper. Seems a shame now to cover with insulation and a floor.....

    Thanks all for your help.

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