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Thread: Dielectric union V. Dielectric nipple

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    DIY Junior Member imadad2's Avatar
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    Default Dielectric union V. Dielectric nipple

    I installed copper pipe to replace galvenized pipe that had breakdown and leaks. A hot water heater was intsalled without a dielectric union. I went to my local plumbing place and asked for dielectric unions for my pipe. I was given dielectric nipples instead. Are they the same? Or should I have installed the unions instead of nipples. The gentleman I spoke to stated that they are interchangeable and that the nipple is easier to install. I agree with the ease of installation, but wonder if I am still endangering my galvenized pipe by using nipples instead of unions. Any input would be appreciated.

  2. #2

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    I'm not a plumber (actually I'm an electrician), but I can tell you this:
    A union and a nipple are not the same (ok, that was easy).
    In order to prevent the "galvonic reaction"(oxidation) between the dissimilar metals, you need either a di-electric break(plastic washer or some other non-conductive element) or a metal that does not contribute to the galvonic reaction, such as brass.
    What is the nipple made of?

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member imadad2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyBagadonutz
    What is the nipple made of?

    The nipple is made of galvenized pipe and has a rubber/plastic tubing in the center. I used teflon tape on the threads and inserted one end in a female galvenized connection and the other end in a female copper connection. The gentleman I spoke to stated that the water going through the nipple cannot carry a current because of the rubber/plastic insulation inside the nipple. I took him for his word and because the nipple is so much easier to install.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default di-electric

    Since neither is particularly effective, due to the water carrying the current, it does not make a whole lot of difference.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by hj
    Since neither is particularly effective, due to the water carrying the current, it does not make a whole lot of difference.
    ...that would explain why the big orange box store was selling the di-electric unions for 0.03.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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    Default

    I don't know much, but I know if you install regular galvanized nipples in a water heater instead of those di-electric nipples between the tank and the copper lines, they will corrode MUCH faster.
    Go with the di-electric nipples.
    Mike

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