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Old 10-22-2015, 11:18 AM   #1
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Default Dielectric unions coming back to bite me.

The first time, I questioned myself. "Did I forget to tighten the dielectric on that water heater?" It seemed unlikely. After all, I've put in hundreds of water heaters. Why, all of a sudden, would I leave a dielectric loose? Either way, the dielectric union leaked and ruined the water heater as well as some wood trim and drywall. I took my lashes and henceforth agreed to fill out a checklist each time I installed a water heater that included items like; dielectric unions tight? Three flu screws in each joint? Drip leg on gas? And so on...

A month ago, I installed two water heaters in parallel. That's four dielectrics for those of you keeping score. At the end of the job, I went through my check list and verified each item which included putting pliers on the unions to make sure they were in fact tight.

Yesterday the customer called and said that the water heater was leaking. So, the boss went out to check it and found that ALL FOUR union nuts were barely more than hand tight.

Has this happened to any of you? Dielectric unions loosening up after about a month?
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Old 10-22-2015, 12:31 PM   #2
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Dielectrics suck in general. Don't use them
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Old 10-22-2015, 01:09 PM   #3
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Quote:
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Dielectrics suck in general. Don't use them

Ok. Are we not worried about corrosion? How do you circumvent the code requirement? What about WH warranty?
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Old 10-22-2015, 03:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
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Ok. Are we not worried about corrosion? How do you circumvent the code requirement? What about WH warranty?
What corrosion protection?
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Old 10-22-2015, 08:11 PM   #5
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Just wondering if you use thread sealant on the threads. My plumbing mentor back in the day always said to me i'm buying the pipe dope, so use it on anything that has threads. Pipe dope is cheap...Leaks are expensive
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Old 10-22-2015, 08:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plumbersteve
The first time, I questioned myself. "Did I forget to tighten the dielectric on that water heater?" ... Has this happened to any of you? Dielectric unions loosening up after about a month?
Short answer: No.

Almost sounds like sabotage.

I know this: you have to do something different so you can get a better result. Try switching to a different manufacturer AND as mentioned above, put thread sealant on your threads. If it happens again, it's definitely sabotage.
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Old 10-22-2015, 08:43 PM   #7
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I can't say I ever had a "backing off" problem over time with dielectrics in general, though, yeah sometimes heat, cold, expansion, contraction happens. I've had call backs on them, but probably ten times in ten years maybe? I normally buy dielectrics from Builders or Crawford Supply (As it shows on my card), but I did have a run in with bad dielectrics from Ferg's once. One whole box leaked right on install.

I only use 'em because of swap value. Replace the gasket and m/f. Lets just say Apallo style furnace/heater is bad for MI. 3 years max life.


Dope, think of it as not just a sealer on a thread, but as a lubricant to tighten threads tighter, barring braided supplies of course.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:49 PM   #8
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I didn't ask whether or not you used them. I asked if you had trouble with them.

I do use dope and I tighten them to the right.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:58 PM   #9
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Dielectrics are junk. They have a rubber washer in them. They are junk just like "terminator" valves, which utilize an o ring. Pipe dope is for pipe threads. Not union faces or threads. Use a good anti seize compound on union threads. Approved for the application, of course. Use plumber's grease on compression joints.
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Old 10-23-2015, 08:21 AM   #10
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SS steel Brass Craft connectors on top of the water heater work a lot better than dialectric unions....

why do you need dialectric unions when the water ehater already had dialectric nipples installed into the tanks...
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