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Thread: EK nickel flake? I've been out of the loop, no pun intended (for this forum anyway)

  1. #1
    Xtreme Cruncher Polizei's Avatar
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    EK nickel flake? I've been out of the loop, no pun intended (for this forum anyway)

    I keep seeing in threads people referencing/talking about how some EK nickel plated blocks are flaking. I searched for "flake" in this forum and didn't come up with much concerning that, so pardon my I-haven't-been-to-XS-in-a-year noobness.

    I've got the older style EK Supreme HF (the one that bolts together from the top), nickel/acetal and after tearing my loop apart for the first time in a year, I decided to take my block apart. It's the first time I've taken everything apart since I put the loop together a year ago. The block was purchased new a year ago from P-PCs I believe. I'm going to dig up my receipts or see if I can get an order history or something... anyway...

    I took the block apart because I noticed some yellowish gunk in one of my Bistpower compression fittings. There was nothing in my reservoir, and only the outlet fitting from the CPU block has this gunk in it. It looks like the ID of the fitting is nicked/dinged and there's a yellowish buildup there. I'm not going to call it corrosion (even with a question mark after it) because I don't want to start any hysteria.

    I took the block apart, and was somewhat disappointed. On the sides supporting the jet plate, there appears to be some purple-ish discoloration and in the middle, there's an orange streak. Pardon my cell phone picture... it's all I've got. Keep in mind this is a nickel block, run with Bitspower compression fittings, a HW Labs Black Ice GTX 240, Swifty microres, 355 with XSPC top, and white Primoflex LRT tubing. I used pure, straight-from-the-jug distilled water, no additives, no biocide, no silver coils. Distilled only.

    Can someone tell me what this is and what I should do? I read on EK's site that they warrant products for 2 years to the original purchaser with proof of purchase, but I don't know if this is a warranty claim.

    I'd post the image with tags, but for some reason when I try to resize it on photobucket, the full size picture shows up here. Sorry guys.

    http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y26...c/IMAG0584.jpg

    Thanks guys.

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    Xtreme Member Philwong's Avatar
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    Here you go...

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    Xtreme Cruncher Polizei's Avatar
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    I would've resized it myself on my desktop, but that's what I'm taking apart and I'm using the girlfriend's laptop so...

  4. #4
    Xtreme Member Systemlord's Avatar
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    Looks like nickel has flaked off your block do to poor preparation before being dipped in the nickel, if the blocks aren't thoroughly cleaned this is what will happens!
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    Xtreme Mentor PatRaceTin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polizei View Post
    I keep seeing in threads people referencing/talking about how some EK nickel plated blocks are flaking. I searched for "flake" in this forum and didn't come up with much concerning that, so pardon my I-haven't-been-to-XS-in-a-year noobness.

    Thanks guys.
    Same as my EK Supreme HF Nickel Plexi ( flaking after 4 month use )

    [same area as your block both side but now much larger area of flaking no RMA because I buy from non-official distributer]
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    Xtreme X.I.P. Martinm210's Avatar
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    I'd put it back in and run it myself, not worth the hassle of RMA and being down in the process if you can't even see it. It's not like the system suddenly has the plague, the potential is always there and will simply continue as it has.

    IMHO, the nickel corrosion issue has been spotted and dramatized on just about every nickel plated copper product out there now and not specific to one brand. I have even seen it with extra heavy duty custom chrome plated blocks. Some may have a higher frequency of issues, but I don't think there is a completely bullet proof copper/nickel plating.

    Nickel plating copper is one of those "Bling Give And Takes". You get "Bling" plus exterior oxidation prevention in exchange for internal corrosion potential.

    If you want to slow the reaction, you could add some sort of Ethelen Glycol anti-corrosion mix like Hydrx. I'm kind of a distilled guy myself, but I think some of the more simplified EG mixes without too much other crap works fine. Or you could take the block and beadblast the interior to bare copper if you wanted to avoid any more corrosion.

    I kind of wish they would Nickel plate the base slug before machining out the interior. Then we would have good Nickel plating on the exterior without the water contact corrosion issue. I do like having Nickel on the exterior surfaces, I just don't care for it in contact with water on copper. Brass doesn't seem to have the same problem despite having a similar index, so it probably has something to do with the electrical conductivity of copper or maybe the surface properties.

    Anyhow, my 2c. Copper+Nickel Plating+Water Contact = Corrosion Potential

    There are options to "Slow" the process, but the process will always continue at "some" rate when the potential is there.
    Last edited by Martinm210; 01-01-2012 at 07:37 AM.

  7. #7
    I am Xtreme DarthBeavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martinm210 View Post
    I'd put it back in and run it myself, not worth the hassle of RMA and being down in the process if you can't even see it. It's not like the system suddenly has the plague, the potential is always there and will simply continue as it has.

    IMHO, the nickel corrosion issue has been spotted and dramatized on just about every nickel plated copper product out there now and not specific to one brand. I have even seen it with extra heavy duty custom chrome plated blocks. Some may have a higher frequency of issues, but I don't think there is a completely bullet proof copper/nickel plating.

    Nickel plating copper is one of those "Bling Give And Takes". You get "Bling" plus exterior oxidation prevention in exchange for internal corrosion potential.

    If you want to slow the reaction, you could add some sort of Ethelen Glycol anti-corrosion mix like Hydrx. I'm kind of a distilled guy myself, but I think some of the more simplified EG mixes without too much other crap works fine. Or you could take the block and beadblast the interior to bare copper if you wanted to avoid any more corrosion.

    I kind of wish they would Nickel plate the base slug before machining out the interior. Then we would have good Nickel plating on the exterior without the water contact corrosion issue. I do like having Nickel on the exterior surfaces, I just don't care for it in contact with water on copper. Brass doesn't seem to have the same problem despite having a similar index, so it probably has something to do with the electrical conductivity of copper or maybe the surface properties.

    Anyhow, my 2c. Copper+Nickel Plating+Water Contact = Corrosion Potential

    There are options to "Slow" the process, but the process will always continue at "some" rate when the potential is there.
    do not use Ethelyn Glycol if you have pets or infants/toddlers as it is HIGHLY toxic. Water-cooled rigs can leak and you might not be around when and if that happens. not worth the risk
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  8. #8
    Xtreme Member eth0s's Avatar
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    +1 on the inevitability of nickel plating flaking off. I never liked it, and I still believe bare copper is better. Bare copper is certainly better for thermal conductivity. As for looks, well that is subjective I guess. Shiny chrome-like finish is nice, but that ultra-thin layer of nickel plating will eventually wear off, it's just a matter of time (length of time will vary from days to weeks to months to years, depending on your idiosyncratic conditions.)

    Also +1 on ethylene glycol being bad for living things. Do not expose it to pets, children, plants, farm animals, humans, insects, or any other living organism. Also do not pour it down the drain, so you don't pollute the public water system (or so you don't pollute your own ground water if you are not connected to a public sewer system).

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    Xtreme X.I.P. Martinm210's Avatar
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    Yeah, maybe there are some non EG corrosion blockers that work. I only know what I used personally and have used Hydrx without any major plugging or deposit problems where pretty much any dye or other more complex solution caused deposition. I'm a distilled water + PTnuke advocate myself. I just don't see plain distilled plus copper/nickel issues resolving themselves totally.

    People like to blame the products and while I have some feeling that "water cooling products should work with water", I also have seen this same thing fill up forum after forum on a variety of products and don't think there is any sure thing with nickel plated copper. I'm convinced it's a risk we need to accept and either accept it and/or treat it knowing the potential remains.

    There are many things in life that have risk. Driving down the highway....use of ethelene glycol...drinking too much eggnog..riding ATV's at high speeds...and running nickel plated copper in a closed water loop...

    Anyhow, my opinion..but I would run it myself and either accept it'll continue, try to slow it via a corrosion blocker, or bead blast it back to bare copper.
    Last edited by Martinm210; 01-01-2012 at 12:42 PM.

  10. #10
    I am Xtreme DarthBeavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martinm210 View Post
    Yeah, maybe there are some non EG corrosion blockers that work. I only know what I used personally and have used Hydrx without any major plugging or deposit problems where pretty much any dye or other more complex solution caused deposition. I'm a distilled water + PTnuke advocate myself. I just don't see plain distilled plus copper/nickel issues resolving themselves totally.

    People like to blame the products and while I have some feeling that "water cooling products should work with water", I also have seen this same thing fill up forum after forum on a variety of products and don't think there is any sure thing with nickel plated copper. I'm convinced it's a risk we need to accept and either accept it and/or treat it knowing the potential remains.

    There are many things in life that have risk. Driving down the highway....use of ethelene glycol...drinking too much eggnog..riding ATV's at high speeds...and running nickel plated copper in a closed water loop...

    Anyhow, my opinion..but I would run it myself and either accept it'll continue, try to slow it via a corrosion blocker, or bead blast it back to bare copper.
    We have had pets brought in that drank anti-freeze - not a pretty sight. I recognize your expertise in water-cooling performance but my wife's expertise as a veterinarian I think has merit on this topic. There are alternatives such as you have listed. It would really suck to have someone's kid drink that pretty neon-colored coolant thinking it was Koolaid and die or get really sick as a result. I am not sure what the
    concentrations are but I know it does not take much to bring really bad effects.

    Some reading material for everyone out there from a quick Google search since you all do not have not my word for it:

    http://www.petplace.com/cats/ethylen...ats/page1.aspx

    Ethylene glycol toxicosis is a type of poisoning that occurs after ingestion of antifreeze or other fluids containing the ingredient ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol itself is not toxic, but it is metabolized in the animal's body to several extremely toxic chemicals that are responsible for its potentially lethal effects.
    Potential sources of ethylene glycol in the environment include antifreeze (the most common source of ethylene glycol poisoning), air-conditioning coolants, brake fluid, heat exchange fluids from solar collectors, and fluids used in color film processing.

    Ethylene glycol poisoning symptoms in the nervous system and severe kidney failure with almost complete cessation of urine output. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal if not treated soon after ingestion (within 4 to 8 hours).

    Cats that roam outside unsupervised are more likely to encounter ethylene glycol in antifreeze which has been disposed of improperly. Ethylene glycol has a sweet taste and cats will consume it readily. Unfortunately, many owners do not realize that their pet has consumed ethylene glycol and don't become aware of the problem until the pet shows non-specific symptoms of kidney failure like loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting two to three days later. Treatment is often futile after severe kidney failure has developed.

    Cats are more susceptible to ethylene glycol poisoning than dogs (i.e. smaller amounts are required to cause poisoning). The minimum lethal dose for a cat is 1.5 milliliters of antifreeze per kilogram of body weight. Therefore, a
    Definitive treatment should be started as soon as possible after consumption of ethylene glycol (within a few hours). If treated promptly and appropriately, pets that have consumed ethylene glycol will not develop kidney failure and have a good chance of survival.
    Last edited by DarthBeavis; 01-01-2012 at 06:34 PM.
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    Xtremely High Voltage Sparky's Avatar
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    As I mentioned in our chat a couple days ago, every nickel plated item WILL have its nickel come off sooner or later. All my barbs - a big mix of Dtek, EK, Bitspower, and AquaExtreme - have bits of nickel missing here and there with the plain brass showing through.

    It happens.

    That's why I personally am not a big fan of nickel plated anything, it costs more and wears off. Meh, so not worth it.
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    Registered User frank anderson's Avatar
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    I think in the end, it all boils down to simple physics..

    Moving water has friction, any treated surface, nickel, painted, etc.. will all eventually wear down over time.. Though the period can be anywhere from a week to years, your rig will probably be out dated faster then the actual "wear and tear" will cause any real harm on your loop.

    ...and yea, people are taking the nickel plating thing a bit too far I think.. I have seen matt black bitspower fitting paint literally crack off after a week, I just rub it down with a Q-Tip to clean it off as best I can, then throw it into my "misc tools box" and use it for test projects, cleaning / flushing of new parts, etc..

    Some of these corroded blocks I have seen, it's pretty scary.. I don't blame EK (common terminology these day) or any manufacturer, there are always 2 sides to a story and I believe a good percentage of that corrosion is possibly just due to human error. Their customer service tho I have not experienced it first hand, could probably use a bit of over-hauling from what I have seen.


    If you really like EK blocks, either buy the nickel EN version and take a risk, or just get their copper version...

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    Xtreme Cruncher Polizei's Avatar
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    Human error? Pardon me for being offended, but if people run distilled +ptnuke without issue (corrosion), how does me running plain distilled become human error? ptnuke isn't a corrosion inhibitor.

    I'm surprised people are jumping on the corrosion inhibitor thing and glossing over the fact I haven't run a biocide and don't have any issues. It doesn't appear to be corrosion, but nickel flake and the copper tarnishing.

    I scraped off what I could, washed it and rinsed with distilled, and put it back in my loop.

    Now to try and figure out how pulling a hard drive out of my system and leaving it on my desk for 3 days while I rebuilt my loop with a GPU block causes the boot manager to become corrupt/disappear. Who knew re-installing Windows was part of assembling a loop.

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    I find this whole thread to be disturbing period. If your block is corroding, sticking it back into loop will simply cause problems period. An anti corrosive might slow the issue down, but will not prevent it. EG has no business being in a water cooling loop; the fumes alone can be proven to be fatal.

    A properly plated block will plated block WILL LAST YEARS, not weeks and months. Every manufacturer will have a block or two with issues (even the copper ones). However, it is how the manufacturer handles the issue in the end that counts.

  15. #15
    Xtreme Cruncher Polizei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polizei View Post
    It doesn't appear to be corrosion, but nickel flake and the copper tarnishing.
    Quote Originally Posted by matari View Post
    If your block is corroding, sticking it back into loop will simply cause problems period.

  16. #16
    Xtreme X.I.P. Martinm210's Avatar
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    FWIW

    Here is the MSDS on Hydrx:
    http://www.swiftech.org/Installation...957-000001.pdf

    30-40% EG

    While I do understand the risks of EG in general, I always assumed that most of the "Coolants" were some sort of glycol base. Is that wrong? I'm not sure, most don't really describe the contents that well. I have used Hydrx myself when I started water cooling and was generally happy with it. I don't use it now, but I also don't run anything plated long term.

    Maybe that is bad advice to continue using the block. I have no experience, but I haven't seen anyone show that it leads to problems either...all speculation that somehow flake will damage the pump or something...haven't seen it yet though. I think the block is a natural filter to prevent that myself, but again just opinion/speculation.

    In the 1980s Honda came out with the "All Terrain Cycle", they were great fun machines and opened up a new sport. However using them as with most offroad vehicles included an element of risk. People got hurt and called them death machines, they blamed the manufacturers and eventually made the government ban their production. The machines did not operate themselves and the machines did not buy magically show up in peoples garages. Like any motorized vehicle, there are limits and people can learn to operate them safely if they take the time to learn and understand and operate within those limits. Unfortunately human nature and blaming others is where that one went and a good example of poor ownership and general human nature.

    Here we choose weather or not to buy plated products and we choose what sort of coolant is run within them. That's all I'm saying, it's our choice. Just understand there is some risk there is all running plated products..just like there is risk running tubes of water around your computer.. With plating I think the risk is mostly cosmetic, so pretty darn low.

    Anyhow, sorry to stirr the box of bees. I haven't had any personal experience with corrosion of plating, so just my unaffected opinion here after reading countless threads on the subject. I don't think it will resolve itself and just trying to inject some realism about plating in general...
    Last edited by Martinm210; 01-02-2012 at 10:43 AM.

  17. #17
    I am Xtreme DarthBeavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martinm210 View Post
    FWIW

    Here is the MSDS on Hydrx:
    http://www.swiftech.org/Installation...957-000001.pdf

    30-40% EG

    While I do understand the risks of EG in general, I always assumed that most of the "Coolants" were some sort of glycol base. Is that wrong? I'm not sure, most don't really describe the contents that well. I have used Hydrx myself when I started water cooling and was generally happy with it. I don't use it now, but I also don't run anything plated long term.

    Maybe that is bad advice to continue using the block. I have no experience, but I haven't seen anyone show that it leads to problems either...all speculation that somehow flake will damage the pump or something...haven't seen it yet though. I think the block is a natural filter to prevent that myself, but again just opinion/speculation.

    In the 1980s Honda came out with the "All Terrain Cycle", they were great fun machines and opened up a new sport. However using them as with most offroad vehicles included an element of risk. People got hurt and called them death machines, they blamed the manufacturers and eventually made the government ban their production. The machines did not operate themselves and the machines did not buy magically show up in peoples garages. Like any motorized vehicle, there are limits and people can learn to operate them safely if they take the time to learn and understand and operate within those limits. Unfortunately human nature and blaming others is where that one went and a good example of poor ownership and general human nature.

    Here we choose weather or not to buy plated products and we choose what sort of coolant is run within them. That's all I'm saying, it's our choice. Just understand there is some risk there is all running plated products..just like there is risk running tubes of water around your computer.. With plating I think the risk is mostly cosmetic, so pretty darn low.

    Anyhow, sorry to stirr the box of bees. I haven't had any personal experience with corrosion of plating, so just my unaffected opinion here after reading countless threads on the subject. I don't think it will resolve itself and just trying to inject some realism about plating in general...
    yes, know the risk which is why I bother to educate people as most people seem to not be aware of it. Propolene Glycol is safer than Ethelene Glycol. Copper sulfate is safer for a biocide (or add silver to the loop). I have had many leaks in my years of building water-cooled systems - maybe I do not have the experience you do but I have a fair number of builds under my belt. There is always a risk of a leak happening so IF a person has a rig where pets or very small children could get to the area where a leak would leave coolant accessible then they should use one of the many alternatives and they should also secure said coolants just like they do other hazardous materials in their house.

    I do believe ATVS have age and size requirements? I do believe you have to use a helmet with them? People started to use quads instead of three wheelers due to increased safety?
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  18. #18
    Technician PiLsY's Avatar
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    Mayhem has some non EG coolant thats mineral based. Not used it personally, but that and the nano fluids are the only non EG base anti corrosive liquids I know of.

    EG is just bad stuff period.

  19. #19
    I am Xtreme DarthBeavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiLsY View Post
    Mayhem has some non EG coolant thats mineral based. Not used it personally, but that and the nano fluids are the only non EG base anti corrosive liquids I know of.

    EG is just bad stuff period.
    if I HAVE to have color I have used Fluid XP only in the LT formula as it is diluted and will not clog up or break down fast . . .I personally prefer colored tubing if at all possible but keep in mind I get paid to build rigs for others so I can only advise but not dictate what goes in if I want to get paid. I do want to TEST the new Mayhems stuff for myself for longevity and to see if it does gunk up blocks but I need to also buy some clear tubing to stain check. if my client wants PERFORMANCE then I highly recommend just DI and silver or PT Nuke . . .
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  20. #20
    Xtreme X.I.P. Martinm210's Avatar
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    I agree,

    Unfortunately, I can't work without antifreeze EG products so I've become familiar with the precautions and steps needed to work with it. I have four ATVs, two dune buggies, and a dirt bike that all require regular maintenance by myself. I go through gallons of antifreeze every year and regularly stock it in my garage along with a plethora of other harsh chemicals and oils. I may work behind a desk, but I play in the dirt and oil and antifreeze regularly when I'm not doing PC stuff. I have everything from EG to purple clean to paint strippers collected in my garage for a variety of toxic but necessary tasks.

    It appears all the "Manufacturer Approved" coolants needed to retain warranty are some sort of glycol based solution from what I can see.

    I'm a water + PTnuke user myself, but I also don't bother with RMAs or warranty, just not worth my time. My warranty policy is buy a different one and move on...

  21. #21
    Xtreme Guru Church's Avatar
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    how about propylen glycol based antifreezes? those shouldn't be that rare and unlike EG are not poisonous, aren't they? At least in one russian forum mix of those & distilled gets suggested as one to use for mixed metal component loops where corrosion inhibitor properties are needed (eg. zalman reserator xt and alikes)

  22. #22
    LuckyDuck69
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    Quote Originally Posted by matari View Post
    I find this whole thread to be disturbing period. If your block is corroding, sticking it back into loop will simply cause problems period. An anti corrosive might slow the issue down, but will not prevent it. EG has no business being in a water cooling loop; the fumes alone can be proven to be fatal.

    A properly plated block will plated block WILL LAST YEARS, not weeks and months. Every manufacturer will have a block or two with issues (even the copper ones). However, it is how the manufacturer handles the issue in the end that counts.
    I'm kind of inclined to agree with you. When you get into "plating"... yeah you better know what you're doing and have the right equipment and conditions. But even with that criteria met there's a chance for a few bad apples. In the end it's the customer service factor that matters most.

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