Extreme corrosion! Check out these photos.

Discussion in 'Tankless Water Heater Forum' started by Texas Brit, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. Texas Brit

    Texas Brit New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    We installed a tankless water heater in our attic about three years ago -- mainly to save space. It has worked fine but I was up in the attic recently and noticed that we have some pretty severe corrosion around the valves and plumbing connections beneath the water heater. You can see this on the attached photos. I've done some reading about galvanic corrosion of dissimilar metals on the internet and that appears to be what is going on here. But it seems to be a pretty extreme case compared with other stuff I see out there on the web. In our case the plumber who installed the heater appears to have used flexible copper connections that are in contact with fittings made of other metals. The corrosion even appears to have affected the gas connection which is the yellow flexible plastic tubing in the third photo. Can we simply replace the flexible copper tubing with tubing made of another material and clean up and/or replace any other corroded parts? Or will the corrosion have already spread into the water heater itself after three years? Clearly i need to get a plumber to come out to do these repairs but what should I be looking out for to avoid a repeat of the same problem? By the way, the flexible copper tubing connects to CPVC pipe at the other end, so we do not have dissimilar metals in contact outside the picture. Any advice how to fix this? Thanks!

    Corrosion 1_800x600.jpg

    Corrosion 2_600x800.jpg

    Corrosion 3_600x800.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,775
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The gas line has excess pipe thread sealant (pipe dope) Not a big deal there.

    The copper water flex may be threaded onto a galvanized nipple. A brass nipple wouldn't have been a problem there.
  3. Texas Brit

    Texas Brit New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    Thanks Terry. That's a big help. Looks like the situation may be a little less catastrophic than I feared!


  4. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    Replace the tubes and be certain the unit is well bonded or grounded. Be sure you don't have some electrical anomaly thats causing the corrosion.

    Maybe the plumber used soldering paste instead of dope on the connections.

    And be sure that copper is not touching the drain pan. That could explain that part of the disaster or all of it.
  5. Texas Brit

    Texas Brit New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    Here's how I fixed the problem...

    I removed the corroded copper pipe and replaced it with a brass elbow joint and a flexible water heater connector -- pvc pipe reinforced with braided stainless steel. At first I tried to replace it with a longer flexible connector, but the turns were too tight and it leaked at one end, so the elbow joint saved the day. The corrosion damage to the copper pipe turned out to be quite superficial on closer examination, but I feel a lot better now that I have replaced it.

    fix2.jpg

    pipe2.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  6. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    FWIW - don't need teflon tape on a rubber washer connection, and you should not use PVC on the T&P valve.

    Still looks like some sort of acid on that copper tube.

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