Mineral Deposits In Household Pipes

For some time now, I've watched mineral deposits slow the flow of water in selected pipes. Plain household vinegar does an excellent job of dissolving it... if your can get the vinegar to the metal. Many years ago I used it in my water take and all turned out well... though there was no way of really measuring its effectiveness since the water wasn't being restricted at that time.
Here's my thought; shoot holes in it for me:
By-pass the water tank, shut off the main valve, drain all pipes, connect a small pump to the line between two separate faucets, pump vinegar throughout the line, let set 24 hours, return all to original and flush the system with water.
I've had this idea for nearly 25 years and did nothing. Now I see there's a commercial service that brings their truck (presumably with their pump and whatever solvent they use) and do essentially what I propose.
Q1) See any downside to the project? Q2) See any reason why the outcome might be less than satisfactory?
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what are your pipes made of?
copper? may work.
galavanized? forget it.
plastic? probably isnt corroding.
if the corrosion is attacking the lines cleaning them may well cause leaks, ither immediately or long term. leaks may not be obvious in walls etc, and cause mold growth and other issues.
is your water supply city water or from a well? either way you might be better off to treat the water to prevent corrosion.
OP needs to supply more info.
galavanized is the worst the lines just rust internally and then begin leaking in a downward spiral of fixed a leak got 2 more, fixed 3 now 5 leaks, one damaged the cieling.
a excellent replacement is PEX and since its slippery plastic it will last longer than anyone here
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All pipes are copper.
Water supply is from a small village in NE Ohio but the village has a water treatment plant.
On 5/18/2011 8:13 PM, bob haller wrote:

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jaygreg wrote:

Sounds like your water is hard. No softener in the house?
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No water softener. 32 years.
Issue is cleaning the pipes now. Future? Hell! I'll be rust by the time it needs to be done again.
On 5/18/2011 10:01 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

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On 05/18/2011 05:13 PM, jaygreg wrote:

You have "watched" it. Have you actually _seen_ the deposits? Please describe what you have seen.
What kind of pipes do you have? What "water tank" do you mean?
I recently cut a couple of copper lines that have carried hard water for 40 years and found virtually no deposits. And my water is very hard: over 30 grains/gal.
But downstream from the water softener, the pressure was horrible. That was because the softener resin had turned to mush and was clogging up the softener's strainer. But that doesn't explain your problem, since you say you don't have a softener.
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jaygreg wrote:

I live in Arizona and have very hard water. Steel pipes clog up fast and eventually develop pinholes, sometimes in just a few years. Copper pipes build up a layer of calcium that stays thin and doesn't have to be removed. The pipes also last forever (I live in a home with 60-year-old copper pipes). Plastic pipes develop an even thinner layer of calcium, and PVC and CPVC lasts forever, provided it's covered from sunlight and no gophers chew through it.
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Mineral desposits are not usually a problem with copper pipes. Cut something open and determine the facts, not speculation.
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yeah its more likely a issue with clogged aerators, clogged low flow fixtures or my favorite./
my shower became anemic over time didnt realize it till i stayed in a hotel.
traced to my wand shower, the head was fine, the lines inner rubber became detached from the outer braid. flow would be gret for a moment then drop to a trickle.
i replaced the wand shower assembly and cut the line open out of curosity.
inner black rubber was huge, and acting as a flow restrictor.....
i too doubt its a copper line issue
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Here's how I led to the speculation:
1) White mineral deposits formed at end of faucet nozzles (lightly but enough to find material in the screen filters... usually white...assumed calcium)
2) Water pressure noticeably lower. Neighbors notice no change in their pressure.
On 5/19/2011 8:09 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

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jaygreg wrote:

First, regarding your original post -- I think that is an interesting idea although I really don't know whether it would work or not etc.
But, since you said that you have all copper plumbing, as others have said -- it doesn't appear that corrosion would be the reason for a lower water pressure/flow.
Since you wrote earlier that you are finding the low flow problem "in selected pipes", it may just be that dirt and particles of debris are clogging the faucet aerator screens etc. If you did any plumbing work (repairing valves etc.), pieces of dirt and debris can break loose and clog the screens. Happens all the time. The same could be true if the town did some work on water lines outside of your house.
Another possibility could be a valve which has a rubber washer that is broken or damaged or came off from the valve stem. If that happens, opening the valve can still leave the washer stuck in the valve in a position where it restricts the water flow. This could be in a main water valve or another valve somewhere else. You would have to take the valve stem off and look to be sure.
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I'm glad I shared these thoughts with all of you. I've decided to reexamine everything. I know there is an end cap on a pipe on the side of the house where I notice the reduction. It began to drip and I discovered that the "professional, licensed, plumber" I had rearrange a few pipes about 30 years ago used a zinc end cap rather than all copper. It's corroding. I cut into another one about a year ago when it started to drip and found a tremendous amount of black mush inside. This may be my root cause.
Also learned from this exercise is that no one seems to find fault with the idea of purging the system with pure vinegar. And, "No", I'm not a chef. Vinegar is the least expensive "acid" that will dissolve mineral deposits and leave a system whole.
Thanks to all of you for taking time to offer your ideas and comments.
On 5/19/2011 3:50 PM, RogerT wrote:

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We just think you are wasting your time and money with the whole vinegar idea. It's not going to fix your problems. And white crumbly stuff in the screens is often a hw tank dip tube that has fallen apart. If you have sediment deposits then open some pipes and run the water at full pressure. You're not going to have calcium deposits attached to the inside of your copper pipes. Calcium deposist really only happen in situations where the water is permitted to evaporate and leave the disolved minerals behind. Otherwise they don't have a reason to solidify out of the water.
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wrote:

Ok, after reading this whole thread, I am supposed to shut off the water and fill my pipes with vinegar using a pump. This makes sense. But when and where do I put in the pickles? Do I put them in whole, or slice them?
Then what do I do during an emergency. For example, lets assume I got the vinegar and pickles in the pipes, and suddenly I have to take a shit, and cant hold it. That's a serious emergency. So, I am forced to take a shit and flush. When I flush, will I see pickles in the toilet? If I do, should I eat them?
Last but not least, when this is done, how do I get the vinegar back in the bottles so I can save it for cooking?
Well, I better get the pickles ready, so I better go.....
later
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On 05/19/2011 11:04 AM, jaygreg wrote:

Do you mean on the outside of the nozzle? Maybe in the same place where a drop of water hangs? If so, that is explained by evaporation of the water part of hard water. I mean the water would evaporate and leave the hardness minerals behind as a solid, like a stalactite. Since there is generally no evaporation from the inside of the pipe, you wouldn't get deposits there, at least not by the same process.

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or a faulty pressure reducing valve in the OPs home?
or a obstruction at the meter?
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back in the fred flintstone era when I was growing up our family had a low flow problem and red stuff blocking aerators. The waer company traced it back to some work they did in the neighborhood.
OP might begin by calling water company for a free diagnose....
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Vinegar is likely a bad idea.
Vinegar will attack and possibly damage solder joints, causing a leak either immediately or long term:( LIKE WHEN NO ONE IS HOME:(
Plus the natural corrosion process coats lead solder, so old copper lines dont leach lead into the water.... thats bad for peoples health espically kids and pregnant women it can cause retardation.....
thus the big deal over lead remediation.and why lead solder is no long sold for water line work...
I think its better to find out exactly why flow has dropped, than take a shot at vinegar which likely wouldnt help anyway and may well cause troubles long term........
try calling your water company first
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