Dielectric Unions are used in commercial and residential applications to prevent accelerated corrosion and deterioration in the piping system due to galvanic and stray current. It is installed between pipes made from dissimilar metals. Dielectric unions are used to join pipes made from dissimilar metals to avoid electrolysis, which leads to corrosion and pipe failure. This union is made from galvanized steel and lead-free brass. Plumbing codes in all states require the use of dielectric union when connecting dissimilar metals.
When copper and steel pipes are connected, which happens often at the fittings near a water heater, an electrolytic reaction begins. Water is the electrolyte and the combination of two metals and water essentially becomes a battery. This happens slowly over many months. A scarce amount of electric current starts flowing, not enough to give a shock and atoms from one metal begin to break off and cling to the other metal. The result is a crumbling, white powder buildup on the galvanized steel pipe which is known as galvanic corrosion. In order to stop this type of corrosion, a fitting known as a dielectric union is used to connect the two different metal pipes. There remains present an electrically non-conductive washer, usually rubber, between the two sides of the fitting which prevents the two metals from reacting. In a few cases, it just reduces the pace of the galvanic corrosion, so they may be told as north worthy but it’s still better than having nothing at all, and required by the building code.
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