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Zurn Pex Fittings?

Big-AlBig-Al Member Posts: 263
Today I installed PEX water supply to an upstairs bathroom to replace some problematic old galvanized pipe.  A neighbor gave me a bucket full of fittings and such from when he re-did his house.  I used three Zurn Q-PEX metal tees from his stock . . . the rest of the fittings were other brands.  Now I read about Zern class action suits, leaky fittings, etc.  I am a bit concerned.  Should I cut the tees out and replace them with something else? . . . or bury them behind drywall and sleep peacefully?  (I'm thinking I could solder up some longer-armed tees from copper fittings, cut the old tees out, and put the copper ones in without having to disturb anything else.)

Was the Zurn problem related to a small batch of fittings?  Has the problem been resolved in more recent production?  Was the problem related to the fact that Zurn fittings were brass, rather than bronze?   Any insight into the situation would be very helpful.


  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,584
    Yellow brass dezincification...

    Bronze has been outlawed by the tree huggers due to potential lead leaching, so most manufacturers went to a yellow brass fitting, and in certain situations, the fittings lose their zinc and start leaching water through the walls of the fittings. THe fitting will either plug up completely, or dissolve.

    Best get another type of alternative fitting while access is good....

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • John_DJohn_D Member Posts: 1
    Mark you need alot more education

    Bronze HAS NOT been outlawed. if it was there would be a few manufacturer's not selling products IE Viega, Spirotherm and many more. almost forgot about all those outlawed bronze pumps being sold

    Wow there is even lead free bronze coming to the market


  • Big-AlBig-Al Member Posts: 263
    Taken Care Of.

    Thanks for the replies. 

    I cut out the Zurn fittings and soldered up some copper ones from tees and copper PEX stub-outs.  The arms were enough longer that I could just re-connect to the tubing already in place. 

    I did leave the Nibco brass fittings in place.  Their web site brags up their particular brass alloy that supposedly eliminates dezincification.  The water here tends to be slightly basic, so I probably didn't have to worry much in the first place . . . but I tend to over-think this type of thing.   The walls are closed up, and should be ready for paint after one more coat of drywall joint compound.

    I was surprised at the galvanized pipe I replaced.  It's so plugged with rust that I can't even see light through some of it, and some of it snapped like twigs when I tried to unscrew it.  I think leaks are much less likely with new PEX than old steel . . .
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,584

    Actually, I'm sitting :-)

    I was simply repeating something that was said to me by a respected industry associate.

    What, in your valued opinion, is causing these fittings to fail? QC from foreign sources? Water quality issues? Hydraulic erosion issues?

    As my father use to say, "If you don't learn something NEW every day, you were either A., NOT paying attention, or, B., Gone fishing. And if you WERE, B. Gone fishing, and you didn't learn anything new, then you were A.,NOT Paying attention.

    Still learning after all these years.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Big-AlBig-Al Member Posts: 263
    edited November 2009

    I just did a little reading on dezincification of brass.  It does seem complicated, depending on the sulfate concentration in the water and the chloride to calcium hardness ratio, etc.  From what I've just read, water with a pH of 6.5 or less can actually eat away the copper.  Water with a pH of 7.6 to 8.2 can dissolve zinc from brass, leading to the eventual decay and failure of the metal.  At a pH above 8.2 the dezincification can take the form of "meringue,"  where the resulting zinc compounds form a pale, crusty substance that plugs up the fitting.  The literature also talks about adding small amounts of certain elements to brass (like antimony) that will change the grain structure of the metal enough to inhibit dezincification. 

    It's been about 30 years since I took any metallurgy classes, so I'm sure I didn't completely understand all of what I read, but if a company is getting their fittings made from recycled metal in some cheap third world foundry, I'd guess that the composition of the metal may vary quite a bit.
  • eluv8eluv8 Member Posts: 174
    Mark is Partially right

    While bronze has not been outlawed manufactures have gotten into trouble with some of these cheap import fitting in a quest to get pricing down. Kitec got hit especially hard by buying fittings with too much zinc (cheaper easier to produce, or quality control in a foreign country) which leached out of the fitting causing failure. I dont remember all the specifics its been some time since I heard the entire story. But if you have too much zinc when the fittings are wet they begin to form a white layer on their surface, that is not scale buildup but material leaching from the fitting. The more zinc that is removed the better the fitting I am told however it comes with a price, and now you throw  no lead into the picture and prices go up even more. Its amazing we are not all dead from all the lead and oakum thats still in buildings and lead soldered mains. I am sure I should be able to sue somebody for this muscle tremor I have.
  • Gary_GGary_G Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2009
    (Mark is Totally wrong and admits it) I wish People would look stuff up instead of relying on rumors

    You are also wrong. it is the Zinc in Brass not Bronze that created the issue for Kitec. Bronze does not have Zinc



    The problem with our industry is everyone knows because they heard it so it must be true instead of looking it up themselves
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,584
    Well, kick my brass...

    a little research finds that the state of California HAS outlawed leaded brass AND leaded bronze for the most part. (1/4 of 1 percent by weighted wet surface exposure)

    Maybe I should have prefaced term tree hugger with Redwood first eh...

    And then, I googled leaded bronze, and found

    And then I googled leaded brass and found

    Didn't know that there are over 24 different makes of brass...

    Live and learn, and err or be un-human :-)

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Steve EbelsSteve Ebels Member Posts: 1,287
    Got a bulletin from Viega

    IIRC, All their bronze fittings are now compliant with the lead free hyperbole. Viega has always been bronze as far as I know. They have brass in their catalog now that came with the purchase of Vanguard but I think they will be changing also. There's a reason Viega fittings cost more than run of the mill stuff.
  • eluv8eluv8 Member Posts: 174
    Partially right clarification

    I guess I should have put a space in my comment, and been more specific when commenting on the bronze issue and transitioning to the brass issue. Re reading my post I see how the confusion came about. I should have typed that bronze has not been outlawed as he stated(He was wrong as admitted). However he is right in the fact that there are manufactures fittings (Brass, I mentioned the Kitec in specific) that  have had problems with the leaching of zinc as he mentioned leading to failures. Sometimes my head outruns my fingers and I did not re-read before posting.

     I have actually read a significant amount and spoken with several manufactures on the subject of brass and bronze used in the manufacture of fittings and plumbing fixtures. I wanted to know for my self what the California legislation and several manufactures adopting  No-lead Bronze and DZR Brass fittings and products was about. Not to mention the liability of installing products that have the potential to cause harm or fail.
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