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Old Galvanized Pipes: Should new fittings be BRASS or STAINLESS?

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GBC_illinois
GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
edited March 29 in THE MAIN WALL
There seems to be great disagreement on the internet about this. Some say brass is more corrosion resistant, some say stainless. It seems like stainless comes in a ton of forms which vary on the galvanic series chart, but I'm only looking for the metals that are available as plumbing fittings, and I would only consider lead-free brass. Here's my application:
  • Piping for is for *potable water only* in a the basement of a residential building. Pipes are not exposed to weather or moisture outside.
  • Original piping is all galvanized and very old, and many of the fittings which have been replaced over the years are badly corroded and prone to leaks.
  • In future, we are likely to replace all the galvanized with copper.
So, if we are buying new fittings to replace leaky ones, should they be lead-free brass, or stainless? Or... something else?

Comments

  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,967
    edited March 29
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    It depends on your time frame as to when you are replacing everything or, fixing things piece meal.
    If you are planning on doing this piece meal and will be ripping things out "soon"? patch as best you can.
    Drinking water and galvanized piping do not mix well. This has been proven over decades and is not used much now. Brass is used put can become pricey. Copper and pex piping and cpvc piping is what you should be considering.
    But again, this depends on your skill level and how much you are willing to spend, and for that matter how much labor you want to endure.
    Some folks like to start in their basement. Getting rid of the old water piping completely and adapting to what is in the walls supplying the fixtures.
    Personally I would use pex.
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
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    The longer term plan is for copper main lines, and PEX for the branches. In the meantime, I just want to make sure fittings we put in now are the most corrosion resistant possible with the existing galvanized.
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,967
    edited March 29
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    Then go with brass. Galvanized isn't a great choice. Stainless is ok but often the threads can gawl,( siez or clog the threads while tightening) and not tighten well when adapting to a a different metal.

    GBC_illinoisjamplumb
  • Mustangman
    Mustangman Member Posts: 98
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    I am an old school plumber and love soldering. I also enjoy screwed pipe jobs. However, there are better materials to use on potable water than SS, galvanized and yes... copper. Pex tubing with cinch ring clamps is the way to go. 1' or 1/2 L copper is 3.31. Pex .55. Do the math just in material, not to mention how fast it goes together. SS is a good product. Its a bit spendy plus you have to thread pipe. If you go with SS, use the grey teflon made for SS screwed joints and a tiny bit of dope on the first 2 threads. The new lead free brass has issues too. When they took lead out of brass, it completely changed brass as we knew it. With lead, brass was softer and more pliable. Now its so brittle, its hard to tighten without your wrenches slipping and tearing the brass where your wrenches were. You get all these brass splinters.
    Pex, as much as I hated it when it first came out, will out perform brass, copper or SS. The cost is a huge factor.
    If you are putting these fittings in temporarily, use what ever is cheapest to get you by for a few years until you update the rest of the piping. Good luck
    Steve Noviello
    jamplumbPRR
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
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    To clarify my question: For my existing setup -- which is mostly galvanized -- when we have a leaky, corroded fitting, like a valve or a faucet, should we replace it with brass, stainless, or something else?

    Unless I'm mistaking something, I don't think I have an option to replace an existing valve or an end faucet with PEX, I think it needs to be a metal of some sort?
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
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    Here are pictures of some of the fittings I'm talking about. My question is isolated to the fitting material only.


  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,967
    edited March 29
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    Some of this looks like brass mixed with galvanized.
    I would not use stainless. Its pricey and depending on the type, can screw on with some difficulty at times.
    Brass as a fitting change is good.
    The adapted copper as shown above is still, for me, your best bet.
    GBC_illinoisSuperTech
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,158
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    Why not galvanized fittings, those are most compatible with galvanized pipe?

    They should last long enough to get you to a repipe?

    Brass ells and tees are common, reducing tees or other fittings, not so much in brass or stainless.
    Ideally low lead brass, and it should have an NSF listing, if it is for potable water.

    Although I doubt many of the brass components you currently have are low lead?.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    GBC_illinois
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,304
    edited March 29
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    Hi @GBC_illinois , I'd like to know about your water. Do you have a water quality report? Do you soften your water? Water quality plays a very big role in what piping I'd suggest. Also, water pressure and run lengths to various fixtures would help ultimately in right-sizing the piping.

    Yours, Larry
    GBC_illinois
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,861
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    the valve in the middle picture has been leaking for a long time. 
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
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    Hi @GBC_illinois , I'd like to know about your water. Do you have a water quality report? Do you soften your water? Water quality plays a very big role in what piping I'd suggest. Also, water pressure and run lengths to various fixtures would help ultimately in right-sizing the piping.

    Yours, Larry

    Hi Larry, thanks for your response. I do not have a water quality report, but I live in Champaign, IL. We do not soften our water, and I think we are generally considered to have "very good" water, but I don't know the specifics. Our pressure is almost 60 psi measured at our taps in the basement.

    Given the responses so far, I think I will probably go with brass fittings.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,706
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    I've used a decent amount of npt stainless pipe and fittings at the shop and I never had an issue with galling.

    But it's not near as easy to get them to seal as brass.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,304
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    Hi @GBC_illinois , Another question. How long are you thinking of keeping the existing system going, or when are you thinking of repiping? If the fixes you're considering are only for a year or two, it doesn't much matter what you put in. I looked up your water, and from what I could see, it looks pretty good, though the report I found didn't even give total dissolved solids (TDS), Langlier index or pH.
    A different approach could be to run PEX to a manifold, if your runs aren't too long. With your water pressure, you could use 3/8" PEX, type A expansion, so you don't have flow restrictions at fittings.
    Anyway, I'm just looking at rebuilding it in sections, versus making repairs and then starting over.

    Yours, Larry
    GBC_illinois
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
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    Hi @GBC_illinois , Another question. How long are you thinking of keeping the existing system going, or when are you thinking of repiping? If the fixes you're considering are only for a year or two, it doesn't much matter what you put in. I looked up your water, and from what I could see, it looks pretty good, though the report I found didn't even give total dissolved solids (TDS), Langlier index or pH.
    A different approach could be to run PEX to a manifold, if your runs aren't too long. With your water pressure, you could use 3/8" PEX, type A expansion, so you don't have flow restrictions at fittings.
    Anyway, I'm just looking at rebuilding it in sections, versus making repairs and then starting over.

    Yours, Larry

    This is an HOA building, so when the grand repiping job will happen is not agreed yet. I think it's likely in the next 5 years though. PEX from each unit to a manifold in the basement is what I was envisioning, with copper trunk lines through the basement.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,963
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    Red Brass is excellent, reasonable and practical.  Mad Dog 
    Intplm.delcrossvGBC_illinois
  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited April 1
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    Code in Chicago is brass fittings for transitions between copper and galvanized. I'd go with the lead free brass option.

    PEX is not code for potable for multiple occupancy buildings if you're in the city or Cook. Copper or galvanized only.
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    GBC_illinois
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,706
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    delcrossv said:

    Code in Chicago is brass fittings for transitions between copper and galvanized. I'd go with the lead free brass option.

    PEX is not code for potable for multiple occupancy buildings if you're in the city or Cook. Copper or galvanized only.


    They actually don't allow PEX but allow galvanized?

    Good grief.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Larry WeingartenIntplm.
  • PRR
    PRR Member Posts: 143
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    ...Pex, .., will out perform brass, copper or SS. The cost is a huge factor....

    The green grotty weepy copper I took out more than paid for PEX, fittings, and tools.

  • delcrossv
    delcrossv Member Posts: 742
    edited April 1
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    ChrisJ said:

    delcrossv said:

    Code in Chicago is brass fittings for transitions between copper and galvanized. I'd go with the lead free brass option.

    PEX is not code for potable for multiple occupancy buildings if you're in the city or Cook. Copper or galvanized only.


    They actually don't allow PEX but allow galvanized?

    Good grief.
    Es verdad. Don't mess with Local 130. We only allowed limited use of PVC or no hub for drains in the past 5 years.

    I wasn't joking about lead seals for drains in the other thread. If I had to sum up the Chicago Building Code in one line, it'd be "If it's easier or saves time, it's not allowed" ;)
    Trying to squeeze the best out of a Weil-McLain JB-5 running a 1912 1 pipe system.
    bburdMad Dog_2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,670
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    stainless will be most corrosion resistant. brass will be most durable. the stainless may tend to form a cell that dissolves what is left of your galvanized. used to be that brass was the far cheaper option but not so much anymore.
    GBC_illinois
  • GBC_illinois
    GBC_illinois Member Posts: 104
    edited April 3
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    delcrossv said:

    Code in Chicago is brass fittings for transitions between copper and galvanized. I'd go with the lead free brass option.

    That is so interesting! I did not know, but that seems like a good reason indeed to choose brass.
    Mad Dog_2
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,967
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    delcrossv said:

    Code in Chicago is brass fittings for transitions between copper and galvanized. I'd go with the lead free brass option.

    That is so interesting! I did not know, but that seems like a good reason indeed to choose brass.
    Brass is also very forgiving. When it is screwed onto threads it will stretch and flex, adapting to the the joint being made. Brass is softer and in many cases heavier then many pipe fittings making it a very good choice.