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topic 11851

Chemical cleaning of house piping


Does any one know of a method to chemically clean the house copper piping in lieu of re-piping? We have noticed considerable flow restriction to toilet units due to calcium buildup inside the pipes. I was told that vinegar is one of the possible chemicals since it is effective and environmentally safe.

George Beigie
- Irvine, CA


I can attest that vinegar does a fine job of speeding up the flow in coffee makers. By extension I would expect it to do a good job on hot water piping. But whether cold vinegar would have enough activity, that I don't know. Talk your customers into hot water toilets :-)

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey



First off, I'd go to various plumbing outfits and get THEIR recommendations.

Secondly, if you do use a very weak acid like vinegar (or the same but nice and strong called acetic acid), make sure you turn on all the taps etc until you notice 'it' coming through.

Thirdly, especially if you are using a true acid (HCl, sulphuric) you MUST flush the system down after 5 minutes and simultaneously pour in an alkaline like Sodium Bicarbonate to neutralize the acid. Then give a nice long flush.

If you leave the 'acid' in too long, it could damage the copper piping.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).

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