Flusing water pipes after soldering


Does anyone know how long or how much you should flush copper water pipes after soldering? It seems to me that the water retained a flux odor for quite a while, and was wondering if there was any rule of thumb about how long to flush before the water is potable.
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That depends on who's drinking it. For me, 2000 gallons. For you, a pint......
Seriously, all I've done is let it run for maybe 10 gallons or so. I doubt there is anything more harmful in the flux than other things we are all routinely exposed to. Even if you let it run longer, given the compostion of flux, unless it were very hot water, I doubt any more is going to come off. With a few gallons you would likely dislodge any little chunks of debris, but if it's simply flux inside a cold water pipe, it might take hundreds of thousands of gallons to erode every last bit of flux.
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Zootal wrote:

I just give them a quick flush to wash out any loose debris. I've never noticed any such odor. Do you use a lot of flux?
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I didn't think so. The hot water was discolored for a while, way too much for the flux to be the culprit. I can't identify the odor, either. I have a small pot of flux, and I used less then a tablespoon for the entire job. I'm suspecting some comtamination in the copper pipes themselves. If that isn't it, could turning the water on and off several times break loose gunk in the water heater? The cold water did not run discolored at all, it just quickly flushed out a few pockets of stuff and has been clear since. Weird.
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On Fri, 19 Feb 2010 13:47:25 -0600, Zootal

It's quite normal to have discolored hot water after draining and refilling the plumbing. To know that it's running clear again, fill the bathtub. Slight discoloration will show up a lot better that way.
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snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote in

Ah, interesting. Good to know. IANAP (I Am Not A Plumber) in case you can't tell :-)
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ember.org:

That is the crap from the bottom of your hot water heater...
That is a bad sign... How old is the water heater ???
Is it electric or gas ??? When the bottom of a hot water heater tank fills up with sediment bad things happen... I have seen a water heater that had so much sediment in it that the lower electric element was completely covered by it...
When was the last time you checked the sacrificial anode rod in the tank ???
If it is just sediment (dirt) and not rust and hard water scale) you might have issues with your water supply pipe from the street or your nearby water mains might be ready to fail since sand and dirt is getting into your water tank... You should consider installing a water filter on the supply line to the water tank if you discover excessive sediment in your tank...
~~ Evan
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The heater is maybe ten years old. Electric. I pulled the plug off of the bottom and flushed it out about three years ago. We have very soft water here. Hmm... a month or so ago they went around flushing the water pipes through the fire hydrants, and our water was murky for a while. It could be that gunk settled in the bottom of the heater tank at that time. Maybe time to flush the tank again...
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Zootal wrote:

If that ever happen again, shut off your water main and the valve to the heater while they flush, then open a hose faucet pipe-wise-near the pipe bringing water into the house and turn on the water again until the hose faucet runs clear, so you don't bring the muck into your house piping.
When I replaced the water main into my rental house, I added an outdoor "freeze-proof hydrant" at the property line near the meter. That'll work great for flushing in the future - nothing will get into the house piping.
For now, a good flush of your water heater might help.
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Good luck with that -- your electric water heater is at or nearing the end of its useful lifespan... When it does die, you should remove the lower heating element and look inside the tank after you drain it to see how much crap every drop of hot water you use soaks in while it is in the tank...
You will definitely want to install a water filter on the line feeding into your hot water tank after you see the insides of one... When was the last time you checked the sacrificial anode rod inside the tank???
~~ Evan
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ember.org:

When you say you used less than a tablespoon of flux - for how many joints? IANAP either, but for a single joint I would say I use about a pea-sized amount of flux. -- H
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You're using too much flux.
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On Fri, 19 Feb 2010 02:22:28 -0600, Zootal

Maybe run the water full blast for two minutes is about right. Rinse new lines before installing a new faucet/showerhead/toilet.
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