Is the Green Color on Water Pipe a Problem?
Why Is “Patina” on Copper Water Pipe an Issue?
In our last article, Leak Geeks described some of the process behind this mysterious “green color”, how it occurs due to moisture and electrolysis, and also touched on why it is important to you and the copper water pipe in your home’s plumbing system. In this article, we will more fully explain the relationship between that “coloration” and problems that you might be experiencing with your plumbing or are likely to be in the near future.
Copper water pipe for your plumbing system is inside your walls or under faucets, or inside cabinets and it’s not exposed to these same outside elements such as rain and electricity in the air from lightning and thunderstorms.
So the question of why you might have patina spots on your copper water pipe becomes a little confusing, right?
See The Explanation Below:
Patina is caused by moisture and electrolysis of the copper water pipe. When your home was constructed, the electrician should have “grounded” the copper water pipe for safety, as copper is the same material as used in electric wiring to transmit electricity throughout your home. This is normally accomplished with a clamp around the water pipe, with a wire from the clamp attached to another rod that is driven down into the earthen ground beneath your home. If copper water pipe is not grounded properly, then it is capable of carrying electric current and can shock an unsuspecting person or worker that comes in contact with it or it will find it’s way to ground itself out somewhere within the system.
Frequently the copper water pipe will be carrying a low charge of electricity and combined with the water and minerals in the pipe, it creates the electrolysis as described above throughout your plumbing systems copper water pipe. This electric charge causes these minerals in the water to combine or join together like magnetism. When these minerals joins together and stick to an area inside the pipe, they can begin to slowly deteriorate the pipe, ultimately causing a corrosion process to begin from the inside of the pipe to the outside.
Many times you might see patina dis-coloration on the outside of the pipe & maybe even some small white specs, but no water at all. This is an indication of a leak, but it is currently filled up and stopped by the mineral deposits themselves that started the corrosion in the first place…just a matter of time!
Likely Leak Areas to Watch
- Faucet Aerators – It’s the buildup of different minerals that’s coming out through your faucets. When you aerate water you get a buildup of minerals right there, that’s why you’ll see a lot of calcium buildup right on the aerators of your kitchen sink faucet or your bathroom faucets, or even on your shower heads, once the water becomes aerated at that point, you do get a buildup of calcium there & it can create a leak if you’re seeing the green on the outside of faucet or on the copper, it’s more than likely on the inside as well.
- Water Pipe Joints – Watch for signs of Patina under sinks and lavatories. The interior surfaces of copper pipe is very smooth, but anytime an elbow, adapter or even a coupling fitting is used ,the interior is not nearly as smooth. The joints almost always create irregularities either from the pipe wall thickness/difference of the fittings themselves or the solder used to join the fittings to the pipe. These interior irregularities are perfect spot for a mineral buildup to start the corrosion process.
- Under Slab Leaks – Out of all of the problems caused by electrolysis, the worst is the leaks that can be caused in the pipe located under your home’s slab foundation. This type of corrosion is the cause of probably half (50%) of the slab leaks in the North Texas area. If the water pipe in your home is not grounded properly, electricity running through that copper line will find one point that maybe accidentally grounds out really, really well. If it continually grounds out through that point in the copper underneath the home, eventually that electrolysis will corrode a hole ( starting as a pinhole) right through it, creating slab leak.
Make Leak Geeks Your Plumber
Call Leak Geeks Plumbing professionals if you need help with any of your plumbing issues. You can always be assured that only a Licensed Plumber will be there for any work done in your home. We work diligently to make certain that you are treated with respect and have all your questions answered before we go to work in your home.
Leak Geeks Plumbing provides professional grade water heaters and tankless water heaters in the southwestern part of DFW Metroplex and surrounding areas. For more information about your water heater, copper water pipe leaks and other plumbing services offered by Leak Geeks Plumbing connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, our channel on YouTube or LinkedIn.