How to clean copper pipes

It is exceedingly unusual for copper wiring to become corroded, since copper is the most resistant type of wire to corrosion. So if you suspect that you have wires which are corroded, then you should check and make sure that the wires are not aluminum, rather than copper. Removing corrosion from a copper wire is a complex process, as it is so rare there are very few household remedies for its removal. However, if you have some basic home improvement knowledge, then you should be able to fix your copper wiring with these few steps.

Step 1 – Strip the Wire

Corrosion isn’t always isolated to what you can see. It can creep up inside the insulation and if you do not clean it with the rest, it will simply grow and corrode the rest of the wire all over again. So, before you begin cleaning the copper wire, it is best to strip the insulation to make sure you are getting all of the corrosion off in one sweep.

Step 2 – Cleaning off the Corrosion

First, you should clean the corrosion off the wire using a combination of vinegar and salt. Mix these items in a bowl, using only as much salt as will dissolve in the vinegar. Then, soak the wire in the solution for at least 10 minutes. Corrosion can lie on a piece of wire for a long time, so be careful to rub hard to get the stain off completely. If the wire doesn’t come quite clean, use some steel wool with rubber gloves to scrub it thoroughly.

Step 3 – Wipe it with Baking Soda

Mix some baking soda with water in a separate bowl and dunk the wire into that next. Swish it around for about ten minutes before it should be done. Baking soda neutralizes the acid, leaving the wire less likely to corrode again quickly.

Step 4 – Trim or Discard the Wire

If you find that neither of these methods help to get your wiring clean, then you may have to discard that part of the wiring completely, and start again a little bit further along the wire. Use a pair of pliers to trim the wire around an inch further in than the corrosion has reached.

If the wire has been left in a coil which has become corroded—so that corrosion is spread throughout the length of the wire—you may just have to discard the entire coil. Copper wire is relatively cheap, but using bad wire, even in copper wiring units, is never a good idea.

How to clean copper pipes

The plumbing in my house is entirely copper, and I noticed there’s some green residue forming on the outside so, I wanted to know how to clean copper pipes.

I looked at what certified plumbers recommend, and here’s what I found.

Use white or apple cider vinegar and a soft brush or plumber abrasive paper to clean the outside of copper pipes. To clean the inside of copper pipes, use a wire brush that is the same size as the pipe. For example, if you have a ¾ inch copper pipe, use a ¾ inch wire brush.

Wire brushes used for cleaning pipes are available from any hardware store. The issue with cleaning the outside of copper pipes makes it easier for more green residue – known as verdigris to form.

Therefore, you should only clean the outside of copper pipes that people will see or that you don’t mind cleaning often.

Below, I will explain exactly how to clean both the inside and the outside of copper pipes in detailed steps.

How to Remove Oxidation From Copper Pipes?

Oxidation is the green residue that forms on the outside of copper and is very easily removed once you know how to. Based on seeing a lot of people use this method themselves and the results they got, here’s a technique I found that prove to be the best:

Wipe some vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice onto the surface of the copper using a soft cloth. Then apply some table salt and rub it around on top of the liquid you used. Leave it to sit for 15 minutes or so, and then wipe it off. If it is stubborn to remove, use plumbers’ abrasive paper.

Combined with salt, the acid in vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice will create a chemical reaction with the oxidation and break down the oxidation. The liquid also acts as a lubricant and makes it easier to wipe down.

Plumber’s abrasive paper is widely available at hardware stores. Avoid using any stiff metal brushes as an alternative, as they will create deep scratches visible on the surface of the copper pipes.

How to Clean Green Off Copper Pipes?

Copper pipes are generally secured in place by screws or nails so that as the water flows through them, they don’t move around and create a lot of noise. But, it isn’t easy to clean the side that’s up against the wall because of that.

You’ll need to remove copper pipes from where they are before cleaning them, which can be a bit labor-intensive. Also, if the copper pipes won’t be seen, it’s better not to clean the green off of them to avoid them from thinning.

Copper pipes for water lines need to be a certain thickness to hold the water pressure. If the pipes are too thin, it wouldn’t be long before they develop leaks and rupture.

If you’re rusty on your chemistry – excuse the pun; it’s not important what all the symbols and numbers mean. The key takeaway is that copper pipes will have a different color outside depending on their chemical composition.

These occur because the copper pipes are made of 99.99% copper, which has the chemical symbol Cu. The air you breathe is a gas that is made up of lots of different chemical elements. These will bind to the copper and create a different color on its surface.

When you remove the residue on the surface, which is a mixture of Cu (copper) and other elements such as O (oxygen) or H (hydrogen), you expose the fresh copper, which is more reactive with the air and will allow more residue to form. The residue will also form at a faster rate than if the surface has a residue on it.

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Introduction: How to Desolder and Clean Copper Pipe and Fittings

How to clean copper pipes

How to clean copper pipes

How to clean copper pipes

Hey everyone, welcome to Homes for Beginner where I show you how to do repairs around the house yourself. In this video I will be showing you how to desolder copper water pipe along with cleaning off the old solder and prepping the joint for soldering. We’re currently redoing all the plumbing in the house, some of the pipes were desoldered for removal. Desoldering may be needed if components need to be removed or changed, there is a leak at a connection, or you’re removing pipe just like us. When working on water pipes, make sure you have turned the water supply off.

Supplies

  • propane torch
  • striker
  • propane bottle
  • leather welding mitt
  • slip joint pliers
  • steel barrier
  • spray bottle with water
  • file
  • sandpaper
  • scuffing pad
  • flux
  • solder
  • new fitting

Step 1: When Working in Tight Spaces

If you are working within studs, floor joists, or other flammable areas, it’s always important to take proper safety precautions so nothing becomes damaged or you cause a fire. When working around wood, I use a spray bottle with water to coat the wood. Then I put a steel barrier in place as a primary form of protection. While the steel does get hot, the flame won’t directly come in contact with a flammable object. Also, make sure any spider webs and dust have been cleaned away from the area too.

Step 2: Propane Torch Usage

For this I am using a propane torch, I tend to use the camping style tanks as they have a larger base, keeping the torch upright with minimal risk of tipping over.

Lighting the torch is done by opening the valve of the torch a small amount until you can hear the gas flowing, then using a striker, ignition the gas.

When using a prone torch such as this, while it’s hard to see, the hottest point in the flame is the inner blue flame. The tip of the inner blue flame should be touching the pipe you want to heat up.

In my example, I can hold the pipe above the flame, however you may be required to hold the torch in place instead.

Heat the joint, I prefer to go at a slight angle towards the lowest point of the soldered connection as heat rises. The soldered joint is small enough where it’s not required to move the flame around. Wait a minute, the time required for the solder to melt will vary depending on your flame setting, type of solder used, and temperature you’re working in.

The reason I hold the flame at an offset from the soldered joint is to prevent any dripping solder from falling inside the torch.

The copper pipe will become hot, to make it manageable by hand, I’m wearing leather welding mitts. They won’t burn like other styles of gloves and have some resistance to the hot pipe.

Once that joint is hot enough, then pull apart the connection. You’ll need to be quick at this as the joint can cool off and the gloves are only resistant to the heat, they won’t stop the heat transfer when holding on close to the joint area for longer periods. The connection may need a couple of attempts, a twisting action can help in the removal too.

Step 3: Example Using a Valve

The same process can be used on a valve and you can also use the assistance of interlocking pliers. Just be careful when using pliers as you can mare or deform the pipe. When working with a valve, the amount of time required to heat up the joint will most likely be longer as the material is thicker. Some valves can be disassembled so you don’t damage the seals or you can have a wet cloth wrapped around the valve portion to keep the section cool. If you’re careful, other valves can be heated as is without any issues. Use the same process as between, heat the soldered section, allow the solder to liquify, then pull the connection apart.

If you are working with pipes still in place, the water must be drained from the system. Even a small amount of water present in the line, especially around the joint will cause problems where it can’t heat up properly. If you’re unable to heat the joint for separation, then you may need to work on a higher joint or just cut the pipe.

Step 4: Second Example Using a Valve

A second example using a valve. Heating the soldered connection again. Once that soldered is liquified, sometimes you can bang the connection to knock off any access solder which may cause some removal issues. The less solder on the connection, the easier it is to disconnect.

Once the joint has been disconnected, you’ll be left with a layer of solder on the internal and external surfaces. This won’t allow you to slide the connection back together when using one existing side and with the other half being new. It’s easier to clean the solder from an external surface than an internal surface.

Step 5: Cleaning and Preparation for Soldering

I prefer using a file to remove any thicker build-up of solder, being careful not to damage the copper pipe. Any damage in the copper pipe or making the pipe thinner will jeopardize its structure.

Next is using 180 grit emery paper to remove the rest of the solder. Not all of it needs to be removed, it just needs to be removed enough where it can fit into a new fitting. I already have a new fitting to test it out. Solder is softer than copper so it should remove fairly easily. Wrap the sandpaper around the pipe so it takes off material evenly.

Test the fit, once it’s good, you can finish up with a scuffing pad, this is rated at 400 grit. The scuffing pads are a great way of cleaning up copper pipes before and after soldering, they leave a clean satin finish behind.

While I’m not showing it here, internal cleaning would have a similar procedure, but it is a little more work-intensive and time consuming. A file it’s recommended as it’s harder to use, you’ll have to roll a piece of sandpaper instead and twist it inside the soldering surface. A round wire brush can sometimes work too.

Step 6: Soldering

When done, once those connections are cleaned, they’re then ready for solder. Any leftover solder on the surface will liquefy and flow back into the joint with the new solder.

For soldering pipe, be sure to keep an eye out for my new video on that.

If you found this video helpful, please don’t forget to give it a like and drop a comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more home diy videos, thank you for watching.

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A copper pipe tends to form a bluish green patina during long periods of use, especially when it is exposed to moist air. In order to clean a pipe, one does not need to use a heavy abrasive or a dangerous chemical just to remove the stain. There are materials usually found inside homes that can be used for this purpose.

Step 1 – Prepare Polisher Paste

A polish can be made at home using ordinary household ingredients. One way to make a polish paste is to mix vinegar with baking soda and salt. A mixture of equal proportions of salt, flour, and vinegar may also do. Or, instead of using vinegar, a more natural paste can be made by mixing lemon juice and baking soda. The baking soda can also be substituted with cream of tartar.

Step 2 – Rub the Paste onto the Copper Surface

Place a sufficient amount of polish paste on a clean cloth and run it up and down or left and right on the copper pipe. Apply gentle pressure and allow the paste to wipe off any stain on the area. The paste will also remove any dirt or stain to reveal a cleaner smoother surface.

Instead of using polish paste, ketchup may also be used as a substitute. However, if ketchup is not available, tomato sauce will do. Apply it with a cloth and use it to rub the pipe gently.

Step 3 – Clean off the Paste

Wash the pipe with soapy water to remove any debris of the paste or ketchup. Another way to do this is to use a damp cloth to wipe off the paste from the copper pipe. This will make the cleaning less messy.

Step 4 – Use a Pipe Cleaner or Brush

To clean the insides of the copper pipe, it is necessary to use a pipe cleaner or brush designed to clean internal parts of pipes and fittings. For longer pipes, it is necessary to use a tool with a longer shaft.

Before inserting the head of the cleaner into the pipe, place a liberal amount of paste or ketchup on the head. Insert the brush while rolling the shaft to spread the paste inside. As the brush is rolled, it cleans the inside surfaces. Keep rolling the cleaner until you’ve scrubbed the inside thoroughly. Allow water to run through the pipe to remove any residue or debris.

Step 5 – Dry the Pipe

When the surfaces of the copper pipe are thoroughly clean, make sure to dry the pipe. Use a dry cloth to wipe off any remaining moisture or dry it under the sun. Once dry, your pipe will be ready for use.

Tackle dirt and tarnish to restore the rich, gorgeous gleam to this durable metal—on cookware, plumbing, and other household items.

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How to clean copper pipes

Though not considered a precious metal, beautiful copper is of enormous value around the house—especially for the way it handles heat. Copper is an excellent insulator, and it expands and contracts minimally in response to fluctuating temperatures, making it well suited to plumbing and cooking. But as anyone who’s ever seen an old penny knows, copper’s rich orange-gold gleam can easily turn dull and dark, even taking on a chalky greenish cast, when exposed to oxygen and the elements.

Moist conditions can contribute to tarnishing, but considering that copper is commonly used in pipes, sinks, gutters, and pots and pans, there’s little chance of reducing its exposure to water. Read on for bright ideas to clean all the copper in your home.

Copper Cleaning: General Rules and Caveats

Some folks appreciate the patina copper obtains with time, while others prefer that shiny-as-new appeal. But even if you like the look of a bit of age, some of what accumulates is just plain dirt. Fortunately, copper cleans up easily, often with natural ingredients you no doubt already have on hand in your pantry.

Care must be taken, however, because copper will scratch with overzealous scrubbing. Plus, any copper piece with a high-gloss finish that hasn’t changed color over time has likely been treated with a protective lacquer. These items should only be cleaned with dish soap and water, as even a mild acid can damage the sealant.

Keep the following general rules in mind when purging dirt, grime, and tarnish from copper:

  • For a food-safe, all-natural DIY copper cleaner, mix a mild acid (such as lemon juice or distilled white vinegar) and a gentle abrasive (e.g., salt, flour, baking soda, or cream of tartar). Aim for a paste-like consistency that will stick to the copper surface, rather than a watery one that will run off.
  • To avoid scratches, apply your homemade cleaning paste with a soft cotton cloth and buff in the direction of the grain, either up and down or left to right. Only resort to small circular motions when working to remove an especially tough spot.
  • After cleaning, always rinse copper thoroughly with water and then dry with a fresh, soft cloth.
  • Defer further tarnishing after cleaning by applying a small amount of mineral oil to the entire surface.

How to Clean Copper Cookware

Copper pots and pans (usually lined with a non-reactive metal such as stainless steel) have superior thermal conductivity that quickly and evenly distributes heat. If you invest in copper cookware—it is pricy!—you’ll want it to look its best.

To clean and restore shine, prepare an acid-abrasive paste in a bowl and slather it onto the copper surface.

Give it a few minutes of dwell time, and then buff with a soft cloth, rinse, and dry. In a pinch, rely on the acid in tomatoes to effectively clean copper. As ketchup or tomato paste, it’s already at the ideal consistency. Just rub it in with a clean rag, let sit briefly, then polish, rinse, and dry.

Tackle badly tarnished spots and the blackened bottoms of copper cookware with the baking soda. Sprinkle it on the area and work in with a damp soft cloth or sponge. A little elbow grease is fine but don’t be too aggressive or you’ll invite scratches.

Heat can help banish truly stubborn tarnish. Boil a cup of vinegar, a tablespoon of salt, and three cups of water in a large pot and add the copper item.

Let it boil until the tarnish begins to come off, then remove the item, let it cool, polish, rinse, and dry.

How to Clean a Copper Sink

Rustic charm isn’t the only attractive attribute of a copper sink. Copper has natural antibacterial properties, helpful in killing bacteria, so it’s a smart choice in the kitchen or bath. Manufacturers encourage letting a copper sink develop a deep, unique patina for a “living finish,” though some people do opt to coat the sink with beeswax to slow the process.

Daily cleaning of a copper sink simply involves washing it down with dish soap and water and a soft cloth (no scratch-producing scrubber sponges or scouring powder. Remember to rinse and dry the sink after use. Generally, wash dishes promptly rather than letting them soak, and wipe up drips of toothpaste and cosmetics that land in a bathroom sink, as agents in some products can dull the copper.

How to Clean Copper Plumbing Pipes

While cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) has become a material of choice for plumbing, copper pipes were used in ancient civilizations and are still prized today. Copper’s insulating qualities keep hot water hot, its antibacterial nature maintains drinkability, and its corrosion resistance means there’s little likelihood of leaks. If properly maintained, copper plumbing can last 50 years or more.

Though copper is highly resistant to corrosion—the deterioration of metal due to chemical reactions between it and its environment—there are circumstances that can cause copper pipes to corrode.

These include particularly low or high water pH levels, sand or sediment in the water, and/or improper plumbing installation. Cleaning copper pipes will neither cause nor stop corrosion. (This video with This Old House plumbing expert Richard Trethewey fully explains corrosion causes and prevention in copper plumbing.)

Copper plumbing may be especially prone to tarnishing at the joints, but the entire surface of pipes can start to look shabby over time.

To clean, first wipe the pipe with a rag to remove condensation, then treat with your homemade cleaner. If it fails to clean to your satisfaction:

  • Carefully rub stubborn spots with an emery cloth, which is more flexible than sandpaper.
  • Dampen a rag with acetone and wipe pipes to clean. Follow with soap and water, rinse, and then dry.
  • Although calcium, lime, and rust can accrue on copper pipes, most popular commercial removers for this buildup are not suitable for copper—the chemical agents could damage the finish and possibly cause pitting.
  • To get rid of grime, rust, and hard water deposits inside and outside of pipes, dismantle them and let them sit in a large plastic bin filled with distilled white vinegar for at least 15 minutes. Use a cotton rag to work off any tough spots, then rinse and set pipes upright on a towel to drain.

Pipes for plumbing, especially copper pipe, is prone to an accumulation of mineral deposits. If you live in an area that has water heavily treated with chemicals you will notice more mineral deposits. Hard water carries heavy amounts of calcium and magnesium. When these minerals are left to crystallize they form a whitish, powdery substance. There are other minerals that can also leave deposits on copper pipe. Manganese will leave a brownish black stain behind; high iron content will leave a white or ruddy slime, whereas copper and brass will both deposit a residue that is bluish green. The article that follows will show you how to remove mineral deposits from copper pipe.

Step 1 – Act Early

The first thing to note is to not leave mineral deposits sit on copper pipe too long. If you see that they are forming you should clean it as soon as possible. When mineral deposits are left on copper pipe too long they can actually etch the metal. When this happens you cannot clean off the deposits and you have to replace the copper pipe. Keep in mind though that you should not get rid of the copper pipe or fixture before attempting to clean the mineral deposits.

Step 2 – Paper Towel Wrap

How to clean copper pipes

Vinegar is a very strong solvent. It can remove stains as well as breakdown chemical deposits. Take several sheet of paper towel and stack them together. Soak the towels in white vinegar and remove the excess vinegar. You do not want to have the paper towel soaking wet so it slides off the copper pipe. When you are satisfied that the paper towel is saturated through with vinegar you can then wrap the affected area of the copper pipe with it. Allow the vinegar to do its job for at least an hour to let the vinegar work its way through the minerals. Remove the paper towels and rinse off the vinegar.

Step 3 – Paste Application

How to clean copper pipes

Cream of tartar, when mixed with white vinegar, will create a chemical reaction that can eat through tough mineral deposits. Place cream of tartar in a plastic bowl. Slowly drizzle white vinegar into the bowl. Just a few drops may do the trick. Mix the vinegar and the cream of tartar together. You are looking for it to turn into a stiff paste. If the mixture is too thin then add more cream of tartar. If the mixture is too thick to spread then thin out slightly with more white vinegar. Dip a dry paper towel into the paste and start scrubbing the area of the copper pipe where the mineral deposits are. Do not be afraid to apply a lot of pressure. The friction you generate will help remove the mineral deposits. Rinse the paste off the pipe. Repeat steps two and three, but instead of using a paper towel to scrub the copper pipe you will use the stiff bristled brush.

Do you have copper that’s looking tarnished and dingy? Freshen it up using items that you probably already have in your pantry. Here’s how.

How to clean copper pipes

Copper can be a finicky material; it tarnishes easily even when subject to normal wear. Fortunately, using only common household items that most people keep on hand, it doesn’t take much to clean copper and renew its earthy and robust shine. Choose your approach from the following options based on the supplies you already have in your pantry.

How to clean copper pipes

Salt and Vinegar

It’s a winning combination, not only as a flavoring for potato chips, but also as a cleaning solution for copper. Simply sprinkle salt over the object you want to clean, then thoroughly scrub it with a vinegar-soaked cloth. (Expect the cloth to get dirty as you work; if it gets really dirty, swap in a new one.) Once you have rubbed away all the tarnish, rinse the object under the faucet to remove the salt residue. At this point, the copper should be looking a lot better than it did.

Do dents and depressions in the copper still harbor hard-to-reach dirt and grime? If so, apply salt directly to those areas, then head to the bathroom and retrieve an old toothbrush. After dipping its bristles in the vinegar, use the toothbrush to scrub the dirty or oxidized parts of the copper that eluded your cleaning efforts the first time around.

If the steps above leave you frustrated, there’s still one more thing you can try. In a large pot, mix one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon of salt, and four or five cups of water. Place the entire copper object into the pot, then bring the water to a boil. Leave it boiling until you begin to see the tarnish falling away from the copper. Once you’ve taken the copper out of the pot, it may be necessary to do some more scrubbing, but now it should be significantly easier to get results.

Lemons or Limes

If there’s no vinegar in your cupboard this week, you can rely instead on any number of common household acids—prime examples are lemon or lime juice. (But know that in a pinch, anything acidic, even tomato ketchup, can be used.) Cut the citrus fruit in half, sprinkle salt on its exposed flesh, then rub the lemon or lime against the tarnished copper. Finish by wiping the copper object thoroughly with a dry cloth, polishing away all the accumulations marring the surface, which the combination of acidity and salt should have effectively loosened up for you.

The best way to clean copper does not involve any harsh chemicals—everything you need is in your pantry.

Similar to stainless steel, copper turns black and develops a patina over time and when exposed to oxygen. This patina adds charm to vintage pieces, but when you take the time to learn how to clean copper properly, the shiny rose-gold metal becomes a real showstopper. So, how do you clean and polish copper to reveal its golden glow? Luckily, you don’t need store-bought products filled with chemicals to restore your copper’s shine—here’s the best way to clean copper naturally using ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Follow the steps below to clean and polish copper, whether pots and pans, a tea kettle, a decorative tray, or any other copper accents you have around your home.

What You’ll Need:

  • Dish soap
  • White vinegar
  • Table salt
  • Lemon
  • Soft cloth

Follow These Steps for How to Clean Copper:

Depending upon how stained and tarnished your copper is, it may require more or less serious polishing and cleaning methods to get it to shine. Start with the mildest cleaning method below, then progress to the later steps until your copper sparkles.

1. Check for a finish: Before learning how to clean copper, it’s important to figure out if the surface is lacquered. A shiny, glossy finish that does not change color or darken over time typically means there is a protective finish on it. If there are tarnished spots on an otherwise shiny copper piece, it’s possible that the lacquer finish has been damaged. Because it’s very difficult to clean a damaged lacquer finish, your best bet is to actually strip it entirely and then follow the steps below.

2. For lacquered copper: If your copper has a shiny finish on it, wipe the surface with a soft cloth dipped into a solution of water with a squirt of mild dish soap. Once the dust and grime is removed, rinse off the soap with a damp cloth. Follow with a dry cloth, being sure to remove all water from the surface.

3. For unfinished copper: Mix fine grain salt with enough vinegar to form a paste. Using a soft towel, rub the mixture onto the surface of the copper. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before buffing it to a shine with a clean cloth.

4. For tough stains: Start by cutting a lemon in half and dipping it in salt. Place the lemon directly on the piece and begin scrubbing. For more delicate items, add salt to lemon juice to form a paste. Then, using a soft cloth, rub the paste in a gentle, circular motion to remove any spots. To clean hard-to-reach and deeply stained areas, let the paste sit on longer.

5. Bring the heat: You may need to add heat to the mix if your copper just won’t shine. In a pot large enough to fit your item, mix one cup vinegar, one tablespoon salt, and three cups water. Place your piece in the pot and bring to a boil. Wait until the tarnish begins to fall away from the copper. Careful, let the copper cool down before removing it from the pot. While it’s likely you’ll still need to scrub the item once it’s cooled down, getting it to shine won’t require nearly as much elbow grease.

6. Buff and dry: Just as important as learning how to clean copper the right way is how to dry it properly. Copper must always be rinsed and dried thoroughly after being cleaned. At this point, any acid, abrasive, or water left on the piece will create uneven splotches and water marks. To get a glistening finish, use one soft cloth to carefully dry and a second cloth to buff.