DId pressure washer ruin my copper caps? How to clean?

logansmumApril 6, 2009

Hi all,

I'm not a metal person--mostly I hang in the kitchen forum but knew about this forum from the discussion on copper countertops. I need some advice from you metal experts.

Please help. Last week, the painters pressure-washed the house and my new deck before starting a new paint job. I know the solution contained bleach because I could smell it and I saw the containers. I don't know what else was in the water.

I noticed that night, my copper post caps had grayish water spots all over them. I tried to wipe it off and it had dried and nothing would come off. So that night, I cleaned all of them with lemon and salt, which I use on copper cookware. That made them shiny again and took off all the grayish spots. But, the surface is now mottled, like it's etched. AND worse, the caps I polished all returned to the mottled gray look within a day or two.

I"m just sick--these costs $15 each and I have about a dozen. I knew they wouldn't remain in perfect condition, but this looks awful. Below are photos of what it looked immediately after they washed them. Let me know if you want to see what it looks like when I clean it.

ANy advice on what to clean them with so it will stop immediately turning back to the spotty, gray yuck?



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Ruined, no. They still provide end grain protection for your wooden posts.
The original plane of surface treatment has been etched lower by the action of chlorine and organic detritus, pitted, IOW.
The recourse would be to take the high spots down, which could be tedious, but doable with high speed buff and cut&color.
An alternative would be to blend everything together which would not allow a polished finish but gleaming nonetheless. At least for a short time lacking any coating.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 6:02AM
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Thanks for the response Alphonse. You are right that they are still functional--just not as pretty ;-) I figured that the chlorine etched it even though a lot of what I read online said it wouldn't.

I guess mine is a cautionary tale to anyone with pristine copper caps to cover them up before you get your new deck pressure-washed.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 8:31PM
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