Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

Peeling paint on pipes

Sarah R asked:

One of the pipes in my bathroom, the paint covering has flaked off and there’s green all along the top of the pipe. I’m hoping this is usual and nothing to worry about, but just wanted to ask?

This doesn’t sound like anything very sinister, but it’s worth checking out.

Green along copper pipes is usually a result of the tarnishing of the copper (verdigris). It’s conceivable that the paint was simply applied to the pipe without the pipe having been cleaned first, and that the peeling’s happened because of that. But you’d be well advised to examine the run of pipe – especially any joints along it – to see that there are no slow leaks. Is there an obvious starting point for the tarnishing? If there is, and it’s the source of a leak, then you’ll need to get it fixed.

Having satisfied yourself that the pipework is sound, you can then repaint your pipe. (It’s not actually necessary to paint copper pipework, but most people do as it’s a pain to have to keep polishing it!)

Before you paint, use wire wool and white spirit to clean the surface of the pipe and prepare it for painting. After that, just paint the pipe using a suitable undercoat and top coat. Unlike steel or iron, copper doesn’t need a primer coat.