How to remove rust from a metal plumbing pipe

Written by dawn gibbs
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How to remove rust from a metal plumbing pipe
Rusty pipes are unsightly. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Rust is a form of corrosion that can occur on any metal surface. Water exposure makes metal especially susceptible to rust, so you can often find it on leaky plumbing pipes. To remove the rust from a plumbing pipe, you must sand away the loose rust flakes and then treat the surface with a rust-dissolving product. Painting the pipes with a primer will prevent any further rust issues.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wire brush
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Protective gloves
  • Naval jelly
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Rust Doctor
  • Paint brush

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  1. 1

    Scrub the surface of the rusted metal pipe with a wire brush to remove any loose rust flakes.

  2. 2

    Sand over the surface of the pipe with a fine-grit sandpaper, moving in small circles. The sandpaper will remove rust that is too stuck for the wire brush to loosen.

  3. 3

    Don protective gloves. Apply a thin layer of naval jelly to the surface of the pipe and let it soak for 30 minutes. Naval jelly dissolves rust. After 30 minutes, rinse the surface with clean water and dry the pipes with a clean towel.

  4. 4

    Open your can of Rust Doctor, or similar product. Rust Doctor is a paint-like substance that turns rust into magnetite, a harmless and non-reactive iron oxide. Dip a small paintbrush into the Rust Doctor and paint the entire surface of the metal plumbing pipe. Let it dry overnight. The Rust Doctor will convert any remaining rust to magnetite, which provides the pipe with a new protective coating and prevents further rusting.

Tips and warnings

  • Once the Rust Doctor dries, you can paint over it with any colour paint, or leave it plain.

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