Copper Connectors directly to Water Heater Question

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Munger, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Munger

    Munger New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I installed a new electric 50 gal Richmond water heater over the weekend. The new heater had installed already these blue plastic lined nipples on both the hot and cold. I pre-sweated copper female adapters to the copper pipe and then attached the female adapters to the male nipples. After doing such, I've read that there could be a problem with corrosion taking copper directly to the steel nipple. I did not use dielectric fittings because these corroded so badly in my last water heater....(I had to change them mid-way through the life span of the previous heater). We have extremely hard water here in Indianapolis and I don't have a softener. So, getting to the question...Am I OK as is because the nipples were plastic lined or should I replace with other fittings? Any help anyone could provide would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,

    Marc
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  2. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    Did you attach the copper fittings to the nipples before you soldered? If so, you may have done some damage.

    As to the direct hookup of copper - what do your local codes say? Here, we have to use a dielectric or waterflex.
  3. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    do (did) you have a bonding wire connecting the copper inlet and outlet of your old water heater?? #6 stranded copper with appropriate brass clamps in our jurisdiction. the dielectric union(ala rugged) will outlast the tank - unless the flux isn't cleaned off.

    just FYI, if there is no bonding wire, and dielectric unions are attached, there will be an electrical potential (difference) between the pipes which the water will carry, removing material from one side, and depositing it on the other. if there are no fittings, then the metal of the tank acts as the bonding. in wihch case you get the classic galvanic reaction between dissimilar metals.

    I'm with Herk, check the local code.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  4. I always use unions in addition to the nipples, I never make a copper to galvanized connection.


    It does not matter if it is a dielectric nipple; that first course of thread on the nipple is in contact with water AND copper and that's where the galvanic reaction starts from day one.


    That's why they leak after a short period of time that's why when I remove 3/4" FIP's from the water heater for scrap on an old water heater they literally snap off......taking 3-4 coarses of threads on the nipple.



    If you really want to perfect the situation involving a dielectric union female without problems of closing up over the years......


    Buy a replacement dip tube, cut off the flanged part 2" long. That flanged part will tightly fit in the opening of the dielectric union's opening to the nipple and will limit corrosion better than without.

    The ONLY reason they haven't made dielectric unions in brass is because it will kill the use of galvanized ones.

    Job security we can't change, unfortunately.

    I use the unions to work with fixed piping situations involving old homes.
    Slip couplings don't always work when you have all fittings and no pipe. <<< Common on condo complexes
  5. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    Thanks Rugged, i clarified my post above - dielectric unions...and having a direct connection between copper and steel is bad! unless you have sacrificial zinc:cool: (i'm a saltwater fishing person) - bonding is a good idea too, especially in hard water areas. Bet you didn't know pure water is an insulator...

    here is a small heater I use under the poolside sink in the summer, and the greenhouse in the winter - I use a ball valve to adjust the temp for plants, and extend the warm water supply (3gals?) - these are the fittings i've had success with.

    as far as the nipple set-up - are they sacrificing the nipples rather than the tank/tank connector? in an attempt to extend the life of the tank? I was wondering about them on the last install i did - is it just that the unions tend to be female?

    Cool story, a tank in my rental unit which was under contract, and a week away from closing decided to spring a leak - it was a cool leak, since it was more a spray - the tenant had vacated, and for some idiotic reason, i left the hot water on, so the potential buy would have hot water if they visited/for inspection. even if there was a pan (there wasn't, it was 13 years old), it would have missed. Of course it was a second floor condo....master shutoff in a third condo (there was a main in mine, just the downstrairs neighbor didn't have a key.) ........ran all day w/o detection. thank you for insurance.
    I'll tell you about the appliance guy that didn't remove the shipping screws for the washing machine some other time......

    Attached Files:


  6. Male dielectric unions are horrible and I don't recommend their use unless you sleeve them with a partial dip tube.


    The use of dielectrics are designed to break the continuity of electricity flow by providing a separation between dissimilar metals. This path of electricity is low grade and can cause premature failure of the tank by its presence. I'm discussing a gray area where my knowledge starts to fade when dealing with electric, I might be relaying the information incorrectly but I'm close I'm sure.

    A discussion usually spawns off the topic of whether dielectrics work or not because the water itself serves a conductor of sorts.


    Bottom line,

    I don't connect copper to galvanized, ever. I use unions because it makes for ease of install and removal.....along with the fact that it compliments the adaptability to the nipples quite easily.

    Rarely do I have a leak on these types of connections using a rubber washer and if I do, it's brought to my attention and it's repaired. 1 in the past 5 years is a pretty good track record so far.

    If my future allows it and I can get myself enough capital to do it....I'm going to try and see if I can have a hand in producing brass dielectrics that are a bit thinner in design but not on the thread side of the equation.

    A brass dielectric even though expensive is a lifetime product that could be reused from heater to heater. Acid dip the fitting and new rubber/plastic clip sleeve and it's back in use for another 10-30 years.

    A nice compliment to plumbing products in the field of plumbing in my opinion. Too many things in plumbing are designed to fail within a short period of time. It sucks whether it indirectly lines my pockets or not. Shouldn't have these timeline issues on every damn thing out there. :mad: We're talking 100's of thousands to get it rolling including dealing with china to mass produce the product. *Yes, hate me now for outsourcing but in business, cheapest labor is king* Everyone in the states wants 13-25 dollars an hour to do what people in china do for quarters.



    Nice pictures BTW.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  7. fidodie

    fidodie New Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    new jersey
    The use of dielectrics are designed to break the continuity of electricity flow by providing a separation between dissimilar metals. This path of electricity is low grade and can cause premature failure of the tank by its presence.

    you are right on, additionally it is a combination - it provides a barrier between dissimilar metals preventing the galvanic reaction - the two metals would create their own potential difference in hard water (acidic), no need to be hooked to a pipe. leave an old penny and a nail in your pocket with a little water, and it is alot worse than if they were just wet by themself. this is the difference between oxidation, and electrolysis.

    now that contact is prevented, the bonding wire removes the electrical difference between the two pipes (also provides a low resistance ground path in case of shock) - otherwise current would continually flow through the water. if the tank is partially grounded, (not sitting on rubber "bricks") it will react something akin to electroplating.

    I like your idea - i just looked at a brass union (no insulator) on my water softener, and don't see a good reason not to do it. it doesn't need a dielectric, because the connectors are plastic. it did need a bonding wire!
    interesting thought, the connections need to be re-worked every time the heater is replaced - so replacing doesn't add to the task. tough call - i've never seen a properly installed one fail (i'm the person my family, friends and neighbors call to see if they need an experienced, licensed plumber)

    More about the pictures - I have a humidifier in the greenhouse (12x16 polycorbonate) that is plumbed into the water supply - we have very hard well water, and i cann't soften it into the greenhouse (nor do i soften drinking water in my house) - so the humidifier has all this scaling (the dandruf all over everything in the pic from cleaning it) as it runs non-stop - it is a centrifugal misting one. the hard water also attacks my quick release hose fittings - i should have never switched from plastic.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  8. Munger

    Munger New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Yes, I sweated everything that would be close to the nipples before I attached the female adapter fitting to the nipples, I am confident there was no problems from that. I am just concerned that now I should have used a dielectric union between the copper and the galvanized nipple...even though it was plastic lined.

    Should I be OK if that is on there for a week more before I rework it all with the dielectric unions?
  9. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    As long as you didn't apply heat to the nipples, since they are plastic inside.

    A couple of weeks won't be likely to cause any problems.

    I usually use waterflexes, however I've noticed that a lot of them no longer are insulated. I'm wondering if that's because they're used with plastic pipe? All the ones I've seen recently have a direct brass nut to copper flex contact.
  10. Munger

    Munger New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Thanks Herk. I wanted to use the waterflex connectors too, but I couldn't find anything shorter than 12 inches. Tried Home Depot, Lowes, ******* and the shortest was 12". The area to be covered is rather short and I didn't feel comfortable bending them to much so I just went with the copper 3/4 pipe that was already used for the last water heater.
Similar Threads: Copper Connectors
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice SHARKBITE, PEX and /or copper connectors? Feb 25, 2012
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Mixed Repipe - PEX for Hot Water and Copper for Cold Water? Yesterday at 8:08 PM
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Prepping a Slip Coupling for Copper Pipe Saturday at 7:53 PM
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Delta R10000 Valve - Basic Copper Piping System Design Nov 17, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Sealing Around Copper Penetration Nov 16, 2014

Share This Page