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Thomas Paul Murphy

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pipe Electrolysis

Pipe Electrolysis

The other day on a home improvement type show on television I watched as a man soldered in a new piece of copper pipe to replace a metal pipe that he said was corroding via the process of electrolysis.  I do not want to say too much negative about the show but I believe he misdiagnosed the problem.  Metal pipe fitting like the one he was working on are ones that were never tightened properly in the first place so that they do not leak!  That electrolysis he was talking about looked to be more of a “Sweating fitting” that was never turned tight enough.  And the electrolysis he spoke of really the sediments of the slowly leaking water calcifying as the water leaked and evaporated over a long time. 

Having said that a few weeks ago I replaced the anode in our hot water heater after I flushed the hot water heater.  The anode prevents the water heater from rusting out.  A new anode costs $42 versus the cost and labor of a new hot water heater (Probably cost you ~$ 800 with parts and labor for a new hot water heater but that is a guess.  And putting a new hot water heater in when you don’t need to is a societal waste.  (Read elsewhere on how to replace an anode or pay to have it done if you are a claw fingered witch boy.)

The reason that I replaced the magnesium anode (and get a magnesium one not aluminum) is because there was no hot water to the kitchen sink.  It did not help the problem but it was the first place to start and the magnesium anode that I removed was just about ready to fall off into the hot water heater as it was so corroded at the neck.  (I had to move it up a little and hold the base with a vice grips while I cut it piece after piece to get it out.  The first time I replaced it I ended up disconnecting the hot water heater so that I could angle it out; you often cannot pull them straight out because you ceiling, pipes (gas) and joists are in the way.)

But anyhow I ended up replacing four water pipe to the kitchen sink from the hot water heater.  After I took them off and unscrewed everything I measured them precisely and had home depot cut and thread new ones.  I needed three sections of nominal ½” diameter plumbing pipe (and I am not even sure if nominal is the word for them).  These sections were ~22”, 29” and 5”.  And I needed one section of ¾” inch PLUMBING pipe.  Per my memory it was about ~49” long.  I also bought three new right angle joints, (Elbow joints)  two ½” by ½” all female holes and one ½” x ¾” double ended female.  In addition to these items I bought a roll of pipe insulating tape.  The one I like to use is a metal duct tape that is laminated to a ~ ¼ thick foam tape.  The total price for all these items ~ $48. 

After all was cleaned up and the faucet filters taken apart and flushed I had hot water to the kitchen sink like never before.  The man at Home Depot gave me the tip of making sure to flush those pipes out before you connect them back to the faucet head.  I did this by connecting a temporary pipe with a valve on it that extended down to a bucket.  And don’t do not attempt any of this either if you are a claw fingered witch boy because you will only end up cursing me for advice you didn’t have the aptitude to follow.

Anyhow I started to think about what the man on the highly popular home improvement show said about electrolysis.  Most modern day plumbing dope has a metal in it, I believe it used to be lead but now it is silver, and I may be dead wrong about this sentence.  But if it has a metal in it that would lessen the instance of electrolysis. 

But I kept thinking about the electrolysis issue and I think what I might do is take a small artist type paint brush and paint a stripe from the fitting to the pipe with conductive Wire Glue.  That is an excellent product that I use on all electrical connections that I make.  It creates a better connection and less electricity is wasted because of that.  I think it is a good idea to use to defeat the instance of electrolysis.
Electric Theory:  Electrolysis of pipes is said to occur when current does not make it from one pipe to the next through the fitting.  I have got news for you.  You should never have current flowing through your pipes.  They are your ground and are only there to protect you.  And if you pipes are found to be temporarily magnetized it could mean that if your wiring is sound that your neighbors isn’t.  And if what I am speaking about is wrong then maybe it is because our whole national electric grid needs to be revamped to a more modern and efficient method of distribution.  Come to think of it the Lineman told me that we only have two main positives coming into our home, so there is no negative return line to the utility? Put it this way, I know the syndicated television show had the pipe diagnoses wrong.

When I was a teenager we had a pipe just like the one the guy on television was working on.  I looked up in my basement and told my dad it was leaking.  And it was indeed but ever so slowly.  I replaced it then and the issue was done.

 Thomas Paul Murphy

Copyright 2012 Thomas Paul Murphy
Originally published on 07 05 2012 at:

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