Calcium Deposit Removal

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  #1  
Old 06-25-06, 09:29 AM
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Calcium Deposit Removal

I have copper plumbing that is full of calcium build up. I have remove a few peices of the pipe and the condition of the pipe is very good except for the buildup. I was thinking of filling the system with something like CLR and let it remain in place for a week or so before flushing it out. A lot of maintenance has to be done on the system anyway as all the fucets and cutoff valves have to be replaced. CLR may not be the best thing to do this with so any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
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Old 06-25-06, 09:44 AM
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Really not sure how the CLR would react with the copper. Vinegar is pretty good at softening calcium deposits and may be cheaper. Don't forget to remove all the aerators from your sink spouts before flushing whatever you use, out. My concern would be the acidity of whatever you use. Copper doesn't really like acids. Good luck.
 
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Old 06-25-06, 09:56 AM
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I thought about vinegar but it is actually more expensive than the CLR. Im not sure what the CLR is but it does remove the calcium quite well. I am thinking it is some kind of dillute acid. I this proves correct I may use diluted muratic acid, It would be cheap enough to use and I know how to mix it to get the Ph I want once I figure out what would be safe to use. I have a 4 ft section of old pipe removed from the house. I may cut this up in short lengths and try it in various concentrations of acid to see what happens. I think I will throw in some sections of new pipe also to see what kind of effect the acid has on it. Im in NC and house is in FL so it may be a few months before I get to try
 
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Old 06-25-06, 10:09 AM
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Before you go with muratic acid, think about all the seats and cartridges in your faucets. It may eat them all up.
 
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Old 06-25-06, 10:14 AM
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calcium deposits

i would never inject any chemical into a potable water system. BEFORE you fill any system connected to well or city water supples you MUST make certain you have testable, certified, backflow devices installed!!!!! if not you could be the cause of contaminations to any piping connected to yours.if affordable, i would tell you to remove the copper system entirely. i know this sounds extreme but i know as well the problem you are having.you could change the copper system to pex with little difficulty. the pex is impervious to the problem you are having, but your areators and faucets will always need attention. the best thing to use their is vinegar...avoid most chemicals if at all possible.
 
  #6  
Old 06-25-06, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by majakdragon
Before you go with muratic acid, think about all the seats and cartridges in your faucets. It may eat them all up.
All of this will be removed before doing it as the fixtures are already shot and I figure some of the big clunks that break free would get caught in them. I guess I am going to give it a go. I figure the worst thing that can happen is I will trash the pipes I have and will have to replace everything anyway. Since my last post I have experimented with a dilute solution of muratic acid on new copper pipe soaking for 1.5 hrs and all it did to the pipe was make it very shiny while it disolved the heck out of a piece of coral I placed in it. If I remember my chemistry Cu is resistant to most acids except nitric acid. I was hoping that somone had done something like this before so I will continue on with caution. First application will probably be about 1/4 the concentration I used in my test.
 
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Old 06-25-06, 03:56 PM
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If you are on a City water system, pay VERY close attention to what JescoII said. Should there be something that happens while you have acid in your lines (a fire in the neighborhood for example) it is very possible that a negative pressure could occur and the acid would be sucked out of your pipes and into the main water supply. You would be responsible for any ill effects or damage caused.
 
  #8  
Old 06-26-06, 03:47 AM
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Plumbing is already disconnected from the well and most of the faucets are removed. They are already in pretty bad shape and need replacing. Even most of the shutoff valves leak so they are being replaced too. All of this will be removed prior to treating it with acid. I get to work on it about a week(5 days really) every other month so this may all take a while. Vinegar has a Ph of about 2.8 and the test solution I have tried was about 1.8( my estimation of the ph of vinegar before I looked it up was 2.0) This seemed to work quite well. I plan on using a solution with a Ph of about 2.5 to 2.2 which would be about 2 to 4 times as acidic as the vinegar. These values should be relatively safe for plumbing and people. Usual cautionary advice for using strong cleaners should suffice.

Thanks all
 
  #9  
Old 06-29-06, 10:50 PM
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By the way to get to a level a couple of times stronger than vinegar we are talking about 2 tablespoons of acid per 10 gal of water.
 
  #10  
Old 07-04-06, 04:28 PM
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Drove down to Fl yesterday because the holiday has given a 5 day weekend I had not planned on. Decided it would be a good time to take down the lawn tractor and TV antenna tower. I poured my witches brew (1 cup muriatic acid and five gal of water into the pipes and let it stay for 30 minutes. When I started to flush everything looked well, all kinds of crud was comming out. Looked like sand ,gravel ,mud and small rocks coming out then everything stopped. The pipes were plugged.
Checked the bathrooms and I had water in the first but none in the last two so I figured it clogged about half way down the main line. Instead of drinking a cup of acid I decided to go down to the bar and have a couple of beers. While in the bar one of the patrons suggested that all his boss needed was a high colonic and this gave me the idea. When I got back to the house I connected the water line to where I had been draining the system and let it flush back the other way and all the crud came out with the water running freely. I filled up the pipes again and was surprised to note that the pipes held about twice as much this time as they did the last. I figured this was a good thing. I let it set for about 45 minutes this time and flushed again this time with no problems. I got out a lot more crud this time and rinsed the system by letting the water run through for about 20 minutes. Im not sure whether I got all the deposits out but I figure I got enough. Been a good couple of days, got the kitchen faucets and cutoffs replaced, likewise in one bathroom. That bathroom shower control needs new inards or needs to be replaced. It leaks a little bit, is OK for now. All the rest are in about the same shape. I figure two more trips down and my wife and I can actually start to enjoy the place instead of having working vacations.
 
  #11  
Old 07-05-06, 11:00 AM
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I got back from Fl about an hour ago and decided to do a leasons learned entry.

This method of cleaning pipes doesnt just disolve the mineral buildup. It breaks a lot of it up and can cause the the pipes to clog. I dont know if this was luck or not but I weas able to unclog them by flushing from the other end of the plumbing.

I seriously overestimated the amount of chemical I would need to flush the system. I prepared about 20 gal and was planning on having to make more and discovered it only took a couple of gallons to fill the pipes. This would have been about 90 ft of 3/4 inch pipe.

Remove all valves, they will clog up very quickly once the crud starts breaking loose from the pipes.

I think this is a fairly safe method of cleaning the pipes as the scale very quickly neutralizes the acid, it was clear that most of the buildup was removed from the system as a result of it breaking up and being flushed out, not by dissolving it. Remove a

I think the design of the plumbing also made this treament possible. Most of the plumbing ran in the outside walls starting in one corner of a 72 x 36 ft ranch house and following the outside wall until it terminated on the opposite corner at a faucet(both hot and cold lines). The plumbing was also graded downhill from the inlet starting at nearly 2 ft off the slab where it comes into the house and being only a couple of inches off the slab at the far end. IS this a common practice? My father in law had some interesting ideas on how plumbing should be done.

I decided to shut down the well until I can pressure test the sytem just in case the acid did some damage to the pipes. This will probably be a couple of weeks. How much preasure should I use and how long should I hold it in the plumbing?
 
  #12  
Old 07-25-06, 08:26 AM
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Finally got the job done, took my vacation time to finish it up.
YEs muriatic acid will remove the calcium from copper pipe but it was no where near as easy as I invisioned it when I started the job. The biggest problem was huge chunks of the scale breaking loose and clogging in elbows and valves.

I also had the idea that once I significantly improved the water flow I could stop at some point and say"good enough" wrong, you must get it all out or chunks will continue to break loose and clog shower heads, valves, toilets.....

My idea was also that I could do all of this without tearing into the wall, wrong again.. I had problems with a couple of elbos and a couple of valves that were inside the wall. I had to access these to clear the clog. Also I learned by doing this that it makes for an easier job if you just work on small straight sections one at a time until you get them cleared.

In some cases you could easily argue that it would have all been easier to put in new plumbing. In my case this would have meant ripping out the cermaic tiled wall in one bathroom and walnut paneling in a dining room.

Oh yeah, make sure the plumbing is in good shape. I sprung a leak that damaged some sheet rock in a bedroom. This was because the pipe had a big glob of mortar on it at one point that had caused the pipe to corrode through leaving a pinhole. Cant figure how this got on the pipes unless it got slung there when the fireplace was being built. I hope I dont find any more. I pressure tested the house for 3 nights, 4 days at 100 psi and all held.

AS far as the acid hurting the copper I left a piece of pipe in a container of acid mixed 1 gal of acid to 10 gal of water(the stongest solution I used) all it did was make the pipe shinny. This was my control, if this pipe had been damaged by the acid I would Have stopped what I was doing and replumbed the house.

I hope this info can can help someone else clear their pipes.
 
  #13  
Old 08-08-08, 12:19 PM
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Unhappy

I am having the same problem in my bathroom except all we have is hot water in the shower & tub. I am a single mother with a 79 year old grandma, 13 year old daughter and an 8 year old Pop Warner football player. Need I say more? I have to fill up buckets of water from the kitchen every night for baths. Not very financially fit for an overhaul of the pipes! Any quick fix suggestions?
 
  #14  
Old 08-08-08, 01:37 PM
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Shrewsbury...
Better to post a new question with details of your problem. That post is 2 yrs old and may not be the same as your issue. Plus, no one wants to read all the old stuff...lol. Find the correct forum (this one)..and click the new post button.

So..does the sink work ok? How bout the toilet? What kind of faucet (brand and type)? Shower/tub combo?

Likely it could be a simple $10-20 fix. Details?
 
  #15  
Old 10-19-10, 12:06 AM
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Same problem-- very old home with clogged piping

The hot water flow is very slow, I removed one 1/2" pipe and it was all clogged but for a 1/8" hole.
I can see backflowing a chemical through the whole system but what?
I see an ad that sells a 100-200 Khz generator that they claim will break up the deposets, anyone have any experience with it??:
Roar
 
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