Time to replace galvanized where meeting copper?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by boyler99, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. boyler99

    boyler99 New Member

    Dec 2, 2008

    I recently noticed some rusty deposits on the top of my water heater, so I looked up and discovered the galvanized pipes are connected directly to newer copper pipes. I understand this is not a good idea unless a dielectric union is used because corrosion occurs quickly. My question is, how "quickly" does it occur, and should I make it a priority to replace these fittings ASAP? Should I replace with dielectric unions, or should I replace ALL of the old galvanized pipes?

    The galvanized plumbing is from 1951, so it's going on 60 years old. Most of it is exposed in the unfinished basement. I found about 4 places where the old galvanized pipe is fitted with newer copper piping, and attached some photos here. They all look like they are corroding. I'd rather not wait for a leak to develop, but I also don't want to be hasty in incurring the expense of replacing the galvanized pipes all the way back to the street if I don't need to. Is it better to replace with copper or PEX?


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  2. kingsotall

    kingsotall Plunger/TurdPuncher

    Aug 17, 2008
    Hand copper part cleaned ready to go
    Flagstaff, AZ Sitting on an upside down 5 gallon b
    It's all up to the galvy fittings. If they are still in good condition, thread wise, then transition to either PEX or copper but the only way to find out is to start unthreading connections and see the condition of the pipes. Wouldn't hurt to have your plumber's opinion on site as well.
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  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    Anytime you mix copper and galvanized, the galvanized is going to lose badly.
    Even the dialectic unions close up pretty quickly.

    Replacing with PEX or copper is a good idea when you have some handy time. These connections don't tend to blow apart, they just close up.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    That buried galvanized has got to be about to fall apart! The interior can't be in very good shape either, but it's not being attacked from the outside. You are going to have to replace the pipes soon. How you go about it is up to you. You can pick a time when weather isn't too bad for working outside and do the outside only. Then replace the rest of it piece meal as it fails. But, realize Murphy's Law will apply about pipes failing at the worst possible time. Or, you can just bite the bullet and replace it all and be done with it.
  6. bbsux

    bbsux Custodian

    Oct 6, 2008
    Lincoln NE
    I feel for you... I too had a basement full of copper-galvanized with no unions. (made worse because its a two story and they had used 1/2" right out of the 5/8" meter!)

    I ended up pulling all of it out and rerunning 3/4" copper and reusing a lot of the old 1/2" copper for fixture runs. (this was at first part of summer when copper was still higher priced)

    probably should have done pex...

    But anyways, I recommend replacing it asap. Its too much of a headache to be worrying about all the time...
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