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Thread: Plumbing Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Herndon VA
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    Plumbing Question

    I have a 3 year old WH that has a white crust on the hot side at the male/female coupling between the copper pipe and the brass fitting going into the WH. When the plumbers installed the WH they specifically said that they were using a brass fitting so that there would not be a metalergic reaction between the copper and the galv. steel at the tank fitting.

    It appears the the white crust may be corrosion. What could be causing it? I thought brass was compatible with copper for metallergic reactions. No leaks yet.

    I was going to call the plumbers that did the installation to have them check it out. My guess is all they should have to do is replace the brass fitting.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    What's a WH?

  3. #3
    water heater I think. Don't have an answer for the crust other than the solder/flux reacting with moist air?

    Worth a shot.

    Wes
    Last edited by Wes Bischel; 12-11-2007 at 12:26 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wes Bischel View Post
    water heater I think.


    Maybe use a wire brush and take the white off and see if it stays off, or returns. Possible a very fine pin hole allowing calcium in your water to build up?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Herndon VA
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    Matt - you might be on to something. We do have hard water so this may be a very very very slow leak at the threads.

  6. #6
    Its not corrosion per se, its hard water, or mineral depsits. If it really bothers you sight wise, you can wipe it off easily with CLR, a type of cleaner you can get at any store. Or you can try vinegar. That will clean it up as well. I am not convinced its a leak from what you are saying. It sounds like your water heater is in a basement or wet location possibly? If that is the case, it sounds to me like normal oxidation of brass. White crust often appears on copper or brass fittings if the humidity is pretty high, or other conditions are right. (Where I live, this close to the ocean, my copper roofed cupola got white crust on it pretty quickly...like within a few weeks.)

    Of a greater concern however is what that build up is doing inside your tank. I would think you are safe for a few more years but I would pull out the elecrode after 5 years or so and replace it. That mineral deposits will make your electrode less effective and end up costing you more money in electricity to get the same amount of heat into your water. Assuming of course, its an electric hot water heater. If its a propnae or natural gas water heater, you might want to het a burner tech to service it at the 5 year mark, just to keep the crust from causing ineffeciency.

    You can get elecrodes at any Home Depot or any hardware store, and they are very easy to replace. A 5 minute job if you know what you are doing, and maybe a 15 minute job if you are a complete novice. Its really an easy mainetance issue/fix.
    Last edited by Travis Johnson; 12-12-2007 at 12:51 AM.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Travis - great explanation. What's weird is it is only on the hot side and only on one side of the fitting.

    I'll look into replacing the electrode in a couple of years.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gabbay View Post
    Travis - great explanation. What's weird is it is only on the hot side and only on one side of the fitting.

    I'll look into replacing the electrode in a couple of years.
    IMHO, Travis is pretty much dead on with the Often and Necessary maintainance.... Your last statement tends to go back to the leaking problem, if it was a climate related problem then it would be all over and not limited to a single area, so go with the leakage and tighten the fittingor apply the seal. Isn't the WH installed with unions? Or did the plumber install with hard fittings so they have to return to do any adjustments. Also, If it is a leak from "Their" installation, then they should repair at their expense, call and ask. If they are reputable they should correct the problem for you.

  9. #9
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    An update

    The plumber came this morning. He looked at the joint and basically said that it might be a very slow leak. However, since it was more than a year since the installation it would not be under warranty. Surprising right!!! Oh, and to have him replace the fitting would be $250!

    After he left I brushed off the calcification and will see if it redevelops. If it does, I'll replace the fillting and go buy a tool for $250!

    So I should have been a plumber!

  10. #10
    Install a softner just after the water comes into the house. It will pretty much take care of all of the problems that have been discussed. It it is a leak, get it fixed or fix it yourself.

    You will love soft water.

    It will pay for itself in reduced maintenance costs and cleaning product savings, and spousal frustration with cleaning the residue of hard water off surfaces and clothing.

    Just my .02 worth......

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