Why are our copper pipes turning green?
I have noticed on the copper pipes in our basement that at the elbows there is a green film and along the pipes there are green spots every so often. Someone told me that this may be the first sign of leakage.Should I be concerned ? Is there anything I should do if this is going to cause leaks in the future? The original owners moved in the house in 2002. We moved in during August 2004 does the builder still have an obligation to come and correct the problem or is it up to me to hire a plumber to have this corrected ?
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You should not be concerned about this. The green color is copper oxide, which is a form of corrosion on the copper pipe, but unlike iron oxide (rust), it will not eat through the pipe and cause a leak. The green spots are likely caused by moisture in the air of your basement condensing on the surface of the pipe. Sometimes enough water will form on the pipes that large drops of water will collect on the underside of the pipe and then drip off. This is what causes the green spots. If you look closely, you'll probably find that there is more green on the cold water pipes than the hot water pipes, as condensation occurs on cold surfaces first. Copper oxide can also form at joints, such as elbows, when the copper pipes are soldered together. A perfect joint should not have any green oxidation, but it's rarely a problem when it does occur. While there is no concern about leakage, some people will insulate the cold water pipes to stop the pipes from "sweating". This will prevent water from dripping onto the floor or onto storage.
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