Understanding Copper Gutter Oxidation
When copper gutters are first installed, they look like a shiny, new penny. Over time, the copper metal interacts with the air and ambient moisture. This interaction causes oxidation, and as the copper gutters age, they will slowly form a green patina, similar to the green color of the Statue of Liberty. For homeowners who just had their copper gutters installed, they can expect the process to take between five and 20 years, depending on the local weather conditions. Dryer climates tend to lead to slower oxidation than wetter climates, including near oceans and lakes and areas with a lot of rain or snow.
At the beginning of the process, the shine of the gutters will dissipate, and they may appear brown or reddish brown in color. This is known as copper oxide. The copper oxide further reacts with oxygen and moisture, the gutters will slowly develop a green or pale green color. It’s important to understand that the green patina that forms on your copper gutters is completely natural, and it helps protect your gutters from corrosion. In other words, the patina extends the useful life of your gutters.
Preventing Copper Gutter Oxidation
In some instances, the homeowner may not like the green patina that forms on the copper gutters, even though it protects the copper metal from degradation. If the homeowner knows from the outset that he or she does not want the copper gutters to form a patina, the metal can be treated with a coating that prevents the outside air and moisture from reaching the metal surface.
It’s important to understand that the coating applied to the copper is not permanent. It will wear away over time and need to be reapplied in order to ensure the copper gutters retain their new penny shine. However, this also means that the homeowner can stop applying the coatings at any time and let the copper oxidze.
Removing Copper Gutter Oxidation
If the homeowner wishes to restore the new look of their gutters, they can have the patina removed. However, it is not an easy process. Copper patinas cannot simply be power washed away. It has to be scrubbed off the copper using a semi-abrasive cleaning paste and a soft-bristled scrub brush. Once all the patina has been removed, the copper look of the gutters will be restored. However, if the homeowner wishes to keep the new look, they will also have to have their copper gutters coated.