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  • Copper in Domestic Water

    We have a house with unacceptable levels of copper in the domestic water. This was first apparent when a new filter cartridge became clogged . The local water company tested at the source (outside the house) and found normal copper content but found high levels of copper in both hot and cold water lines. Residue from the surface of the filter tested as copper. The house was build in 1985 with two hot water recirculating loops on two hot water tanks. There were no check valves between the hot water lines and the cold. These pumps ran 24 hrs and day. It has been suggested that they caused erosion of the copper pipe. Our questions: How do we confirm what the cause is and how do we get rid of the copper in the system?

  • #2
    Re: Copper in Domestic Water

    Originally posted by Neil ACCI View Post
    We have a house with unacceptable levels of copper in the domestic water. This was first apparent when a new filter cartridge became clogged . The local water company tested at the source (outside the house) and found normal copper content but found high levels of copper in both hot and cold water lines. Residue from the surface of the filter tested as copper. The house was build in 1985 with two hot water recirculating loops on two hot water tanks. There were no check valves between the hot water lines and the cold. These pumps ran 24 hrs and day. It has been suggested that they caused erosion of the copper pipe. Our questions: How do we confirm what the cause is and how do we get rid of the copper in the system?
    It could be a lot of things including but not limited to water chemistry, residual flux, high velocity or unreamed joints. What is the ppm from the city and what is it in your home?

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Copper in Domestic Water

      Originally posted by Neil ACCI View Post
      We have a house with unacceptable levels of copper in the domestic water. This was first apparent when a new filter cartridge became clogged . The local water company tested at the source (outside the house) and found normal copper content but found high levels of copper in both hot and cold water lines. Residue from the surface of the filter tested as copper. The house was build in 1985 with two hot water recirculating loops on two hot water tanks. There were no check valves between the hot water lines and the cold. These pumps ran 24 hrs and day. It has been suggested that they caused erosion of the copper pipe. Our questions: How do we confirm what the cause is and how do we get rid of the copper in the system?
      An oversized recirc. pump running through unreamed joints could cause sufficient turbulence to errode your hot watter recirculation lines.

      I dont know what type of copper pipe you're dealing with , but on the thinner wall schedules (type M) i've seen 3 year old recirc lines erroded to a point where i could squish the pipe with bare hands. Check to see if your pump is properly sized. Also, upsizing water / recirc lines will lessen pressure, slow down erosion, and could ultimately lead to less copper showing up in your system.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Copper in Domestic Water

        Before we talk about recirculating lines, I doubt that you have a filter on your hot water system. How about a little more info on your house piping. What size is your water service, what size is the main cold water feed for the interior of the house, do you have a regulator, or know what your water pressure is, how many bathrooms or total fixtures in your house and how many people live there. Also are you able to see a colored line on any of the exposed copper pipe? What color is it and if there is a name brand and origin of manufacturer, that might help.

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        • #5
          Re: Copper in Domestic Water

          Originally posted by rookie plumber View Post
          Before we talk about recirculating lines, I doubt that you have a filter on your hot water system. How about a little more info on your house piping. What size is your water service, what size is the main cold water feed for the interior of the house, do you have a regulator, or know what your water pressure is, how many bathrooms or total fixtures in your house and how many people live there. Also are you able to see a colored line on any of the exposed copper pipe? What color is it and if there is a name brand and origin of manufacturer, that might help.
          The filter that blocked up is a Franke LB 2000 on a cold water line at a kitchen sink. Service to the meter is 3/4". Supply from the meter to the house is 1 1/4" copper. There is a new regulator (the old one had failed) set at 75 lbs. There are four baths, two kitchen sinks, and a laundry. Two to three folks in the house. I don't know about pipe markings, but I'll check next time I'm there.

          The water company reported 0.1 ppm copper at the pressure regulator, 1.8 ppm in the cold water at a kitchen faucet, and 2.3 ppm in the hot water at the water heater.

          We are a remodeling company working on this house. The owners have occupied it for only two years and were unaware of a water quality problem. Only a small amount of new plumbing work has been done in the course of the remodel: two new shower valves, relocating fixtures in the remodeled kitchen, the new regulator, and replacing the failed recirc pumps and adding check valves and expansion tanks at the water heaters. Work was done by a licensed plumber. The replacement pumps were sized based on the original pump model number. The plumber is looking into whether this is appropriate sizing but the pumps did not seem unusual for this purpose at the time he did the work.

          Our work was almost complete when the owner reported reduced flow from the new Franke filtered water dispenser which led to the discovery of copper in the water.

          Another question: Having determined that the problem resides in the house the water company will do no further testing. Whatever remediation is ultimately tried, we need to verify its effectiveness by testing for copper. Who does this kind of testing?

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          • #6
            Re: Copper in Domestic Water

            Niel,
            Be patient.You would have normaly already had an answer by now but our professional consultant is in a meeting downtown this evening.He'll have you hooked up shortly.He knows the name of the people testing the high rise I'm working on.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Copper in Domestic Water

              Okay it looks like your source water is okay but both the hot and the cold need to be reduced. I believe the EPA has a action guideline set at 1.3 ppm. New copper is a likely source as it takes a while to build a layer of patina on the pipe before it will stop leaching off. It is also possible the velocity is too high and is causing some copper to leach. Was the system left with water in it for any length of time without water moving?

              Generally speaking we often tie a coffee filter on some of the faucets and try to flush the system to see if it has anything to do with residual flux. Sometimes things things are easy to locate and other times you almost have to tear the house apart looking for the issue. The fact it is elevated on both sides might mean it is on the cold side.

              Mark
              "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

              I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                Sounds like a good excuse for a PEX repipe
                Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                  I may have a solution for you in regards to the high copper levels on the hot water system. I have found over the years that even the lowest "head" pumps flow too much water on a recirculating system. That is the reason why there are so many pin hole leaks. The turbulence generated will start to cavitate the hot water return system which could be the source of the high copper content. Passive hot water recirculating systems move the hot water very slowly and the piping (when cut out) shows no internal wear. I am not on this forum to blow my own whistle but if you private message me I will send you some information on a product that I invented that I have had excellent results with in regards to reducing the flow velocity on hot water recirculating systems without affecting the delivery time to the fixtures it serves.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                    If you are doing all this remodeling why don't you get rid of the COPPER???
                    I'm with DP on this one, PEX, CPVC, have both worked great for me!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                      Check with the city/county before jumping to PEX/CPVC. It's not accepted in most parts around here, at minimum it seems to be requiring an alternative materials form and submittals.

                      Greg

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                      • #12
                        Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                        My Hot water Recirc. is set to only run 45 mins am and 45 min pm for showers.
                        I do worry about cavation !! Copper in concrete 1959
                        I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                          Terminologies are getting me mixed up here... Correct me If I'm wrong

                          Cavitation is a pump pulling a vaccuum on the suction side ( A starved pump)

                          Erosion is the process that causes the pipe to wear due to the waters high velocity in an improperly designed hydronic system...

                          Erosion is very possible without the presence of pump cavitation since it is a function of velocity.

                          Okie

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                          • #14
                            Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                            Originally posted by OkieBill View Post
                            Terminologies are getting me mixed up here... Correct me If I'm wrong

                            Cavitation is a pump pulling a vaccuum on the suction side ( A starved pump)

                            Erosion is the process that causes the pipe to wear due to the waters high velocity in an improperly designed hydronic system...

                            Erosion is very possible without the presence of pump cavitation since it is a function of velocity.

                            Okie
                            The terms "errosion corrosion" and "cavitation erosion" are interchangeable as they relate to the pinholes which comes from unreamed or non-laminar flow in copper tubing. When the water hits the unreamed joint the water just behind the burr cavitates. The cavitation can increase the velocity as much as ten fold just behind the burr. The cavitation scrubs the patina off of the tubing exposing the raw copper to errosion corrosion.

                            Mark
                            "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                            I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Copper in Domestic Water

                              Originally posted by ToUtahNow View Post
                              The terms "errosion corrosion" and "cavitation erosion" are interchangeable as they relate to the pinholes which comes from unreamed or non-laminar flow in copper tubing.

                              Mark
                              This is like conjunction junction, what's your function?
                              I love my plumber

                              "My Hero"

                              Welcome, Phoebe Jacqueline!

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