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Should I use a dielectric union or brass nipple to connect copper tubing and galvanized steel pipe?
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
The building code allows you to use either one. Here’s what it says in the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC).
Brass is a copper/zinc alloy, so a brass nipple qualifies as a type of “copper alloy fitting” that is cited as acceptable by the code. While a dielectric union (shown above) provides a break in electrical conductivity that theoretically would be best, most plumbers prefer a brass fitting. "In my experience they are better than dielectic unions because the union only has a thin gasket separating the metals, according to James Freeman, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing in Gainesville, Florida. "I have seen them fail and corrode many times. A brass nipple or fitting will put the metals farther away and doesn't have a gasket to fail in the future."
To learn about why a separator fitting is required at all, see our blog post What is a dielectric union?
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