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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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING PIPES:
• How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?
• Can galvanized steel pipe still be used for new water lines in a house?
• How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house?
• Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection?
• What is the difference between green and white sewer drain pipes?
• Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?
• What are the abandoned pipes sticking out of the wall in my house?
• What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?
• What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?
• What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains?
• What is a "combination waste and vent" in a plumbing system?
• What is a building trap?
• What is a galvanized nipple?
• What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?
• How do you accurately find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?
• What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe?
• Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water?
• Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left?
• What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?
• If all the plumbing drains have water in them and you can still smell sewer gas, what's causing the problem?
• How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?
• Why is there a flexible accordion pipe under the sink?
• What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?
• What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe?
• What are the pipes on my roof?
• How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (service pipe)?
• What is a P-trap?
• Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?
• What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem?
• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?
• Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?
Visit our PLUMBING page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.