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Dielectric versus Brass  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 02:20 pm
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KansasMike
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I've read a considerable amount of discussion on this forum in regards to using brass, copper and Dielectric unions to attach the WH to the copper house plumbing. There are some who prefer using brass instead of the pvc lined nipples but wanted you're further feedback on the issue. Is it really an "either/or is fine" situation as described below in the plumbing codes for some cities?

"Unions between copper pipe/tubing and dissimilar metals shall either be made with a brass converter fitting or be a dielectric type union."

thanks,

Mike

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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 03:47 pm
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Ej
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I'm in the brass camp after seeing so many dielectric nipples corrode or fail during the heater's life. I replaced my own 80 gallon heater this year being in the upper teens and reused the same brass nipples. Dielectric unions I have no problems with and urge you to change your washer periodically. I have seen if you use a good quality brass nipple, Teflon tape and a sealer like leak-lock the long term results you can achieve.

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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 04:19 pm
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KansasMike
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Thank you for your reply. I'm really ignorant of the finer points of the issue but I too lean toward the brass fittings option. There is another school of thought ( I have no idea of its accuracy) is that the dielectric nipple is too short to effectively negate the the electical issues involved and recommend a 6" brass nipple instead. Because I am clearly just an interested home owner, like others I'm searching for industry best practices for the maximum potential for success. But as with many topics such as these, there are so many options and opinions I lean toward doing what other, much more knowledgable folks are doing based on their experiance in the field. This is a great format for learning.

Mike

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 Posted: Sun Nov 6th, 2011 04:52 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  I think it really depends on water quality.  In my area, water varies from 40 to 800 ppm of total dissolved solids.  Ph varies also.  Brass nipples work OK much of the time but also can cause rusting of the steel tank and clog up there.  Recirc lines also clog if brass is used at the tank end of the nipple.

Dielectric unions nearly always have problems here with leaking, filling with rust or rusting shut. The old style plastic lined nipples had problems with the ends of their steel nipples rusting away.  This was because the old ones didn't have plastic wrapping around the ends of the steel.  That problem seems to be taken care of now.

Dissimilar metal junctions make steel pipe rust.  Proximity has a lot to do with it.  If you put distance between the metals, the problem diminishes.  Lined nipples help to do that.  The other thing they do is to carry any stray current along the metal, so it can be easily carried to ground, preventing stray current corrosion.  This is good too. ;)

One pet peeve with those who do plumbing is that most do not carry a pressure gauge.  It's a VERY useful tool for diagnosing and understanding systems.  In the ideal world, they would also carry a TDS pen, so they could better understand water quality where they work. It might be my area is unique with water that varies so much, but I doubt it.

Yours,  Larry

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 Posted: Fri Nov 11th, 2011 09:43 pm
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today1
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As a matter of interest,the San Jose Ca. plumbing code requires a six inch brass nipple for re-pipe joins between cu and galv. they reject dielectric unions. The plumbing section is worth a look.

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 Posted: Fri Nov 11th, 2011 10:13 pm
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elenano
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Brass into galvanized equals rusting of the galvanized. Brass is side by side with copper on the galvanic scale. Actually, screwing a copper fitting directly onto a plastic-lined, fitted-end nipple is a safer bet, as there is no exposed steel to react with the copper in water.

Randy Schuyler

Last edited on Fri Nov 11th, 2011 10:14 pm by elenano

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 Posted: Sat Nov 12th, 2011 04:41 pm
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eleent
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Hello:  It sounds like San Jose recognized there is a problem with dielectrics in their water and tried to do something to fix it.  Brass nipples are easier to find than lined steel nipples.  ;)

Yours,  Larry

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