What happen when copper pipe is oxidized?

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    Hi, I’m a working professional. Five years ago, I installed a water heater. Copper pipes are used to connect this water heater. Last week I noticed that the pipes are covered with a green substance. I think the lines are oxidized. I heard that if the oxidization is Sevier, then there are chances for the leak. Could anyone give me a suggestion? Your advice will be a big help.

    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    It is pretty common for copper pipes to turn green, especially in the presence of moisture. The bigger question is do you have a Dielectric fitting on the lines between the copper and the heater. If not, the materials will forma Galvanic cell and one will eat the other. That is what you could be seeing, also.

    Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    I no longer use dielectric fittings at the water heaters.

    Many new WH comes with dielectric nipples with plastic sleeves but the nipples are made of galvanized steel. They tend to form a corrosive mess over time, and my personal experience is a copper male adapter threaded into the WH is less prone to galvanic action then a standard dielectric fitting (which is code required by many places).

    There are some studies that suggested the reason these fittings (dielectric nipples or unions) don’t work well because they are too short.

    Nowadays I use 6″ brass nipples coming out of a WH and no dielectric anything. Brass is in between copper and steel on the Nobility scale and so far that has worked better than dielectric fittings.


    The platina or greenish colour is appearing on copper pipes because of oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical process that occurs on the surface of copper when exposed to air and water over time. This oxidized layer is not quite dangerous but causes the copper to corrode.

    There are many ways to seal these leaks in the pipes. You can try to remove the platina by grinding the pipes or using any chemicals. A professional plumber can quickly identify the situation and can suggest a procedure. Because of the damages it has, you might consider installing new pipes. While installing new pipes can appear to be a costly fix, it could save you from more significant expenses if your pipes keep on leaking.

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