3/4" Union Problems

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  #1  
Old 11-28-16, 04:21 PM
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3/4" Union Problems

Hi, I just moved into a home where the water heater needs an anode rod and a full port valve at the drain because I like to replace anode rods to make water heaters last a long time.

I thought soldering two 3/4" unions would be a great idea since I'd be replacing the anode rod maybe every 3 years since I have a water softener (which accelerates anode rod failure). Unions would allow me to disconnect the water heater and lay it down to do the anode job quickly.

However, BOTH unions I got at Lowes leak where the two parts mate (not the soldering).

(1) Is this a bad idea since I have never seen unions on a water heater before (tightening twists the pipes badly stressing out the solder)?

(2) Has anyone been having trouble with unions not working? I have used a few in my lifetime and they have worked every time. It's hard to believe BOTH unions spray water (not the solder part).

Any input is appreciated.

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Old 11-28-16, 04:50 PM
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You should have soldered a male adapter on the top pipes and use flexible pipe to transition to the dielectirc nipples on the water heater. If you have any movement, you could experience more leaks.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 04:57 PM
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I have bought foreign made pipe fittings that didn't hold water no matter what you tried. Only thing to do is try to find a supply house that sell American made fittings or at least ones from a different country then you have now.

I have always use metal flex connectors on water heaters. If your local code allows that is what I would suggest.

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Old 11-28-16, 04:57 PM
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Soldering can potentially fry any gaskets inside the union. A male transition to a female threaded union would probably be a better choice than a soldered one. But I agree, the stainless braided hookups are the bomb.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 06:16 PM
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I just realized that the reason my pipes are twisting when I tighten the union is because this union doesn't have a 2nd hex side to grab to counter the torque of the tightening.

The reason I didn't get the flex hose is because when you look into the end/opening of it, it's reduced down to a 1/2" opening, not letting the full 3/4" opening of water through.

I think I'll return the unions and get the flex hose and just get fried when my wife flushed the upstairs toilet while in the shower :-)

P.S. There aren't gaskets to fry in unions ...to my knowledge they are all metal on metal.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 06:28 PM
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Brasscraft Procoat stainless water heater connectors are advertised as full flow:

ProCoatģ Stainless Steel Water Heater Connectors

But the way to avoid getting scalded is to install a pressure balanced shower valve.

You could try a film of rectorseal on the faces of the unions. You are not supposed to need nor use pipe dope on unions, but I've found it to work in a pinch on some of the poorly machined unions. However, the flex connectors are a better solution.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 06:30 PM
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they are all metal on metal.
In that case, did you put teflon tfe paste on the union threads?
 
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Old 11-28-16, 07:21 PM
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what's Teflon tfe paste? lol. No. I'll look it up.

I thought putting paste on union threads would be like putting it on a garden hose threads ...that is it's not needed to seal since a union is a perfect match where the threads are used for compression, not the actual seal.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 09:20 PM
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since a union is a perfect match where the threads are used for compression, not the actual seal
In theory that's how it's supposed to work. Forget about unions from the generic home improvement stores. I haven't found any yet that don't leak from there.

You can put a little paste on the seal part.... but that didn't work for me either.
 
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Old 11-28-16, 10:10 PM
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The reason I didn't get the flex hose is because when you look into the end/opening of it, it's reduced down to a 1/2" opening,
But the metal flex unions I recommended are full size.
 
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Old 11-29-16, 06:38 AM
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Thanks everyone for the replies! I will go with either the flex hose type or the flex copper type (thanks ray).
 
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Old 11-29-16, 02:21 PM
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I thought putting paste on union threads would be like putting it on a garden hose threads ...that is it's not needed to seal
That's true. The threads aren't what needs sealing, it's the compression mating surfaces.
Compression surfaces should seal with very little force. In your case the surfaces are so poorly ground nothing will work to correct it.
 
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Old 11-29-16, 04:08 PM
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Yes, I am really disappointed with these. They should be embarrassed to sell them.
 
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Old 11-29-16, 04:14 PM
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Once plumbed a whole bathroom with assorted galvanized fittings made in China. Every single fitting dripped. Did it with tape, did it with dope, did it with dope and tape. Not a single fitting held tight. Had to throw away the fittings and buy American at three times the cost. All the American fittings were drip free first try.
 

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Old 12-12-16, 12:59 AM
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The Chinese have a ways to go with making threads, imho. I suspect that they don't maintain their taps & dies as well as they ought to.

I've never had to lay a water heater down to change the anode rod though. You might look into getting an impact driver. If height is a problem there are flexible/sectional anodes available.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 05:23 AM
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Before I jnstall a union I use valve grinding compound on the ball joint and oscillate them until there is good contact. When soldering, I sweat one half, tighten the two halfs and then sweat the second half. I position the water pipe going into the second half of the union such that it will push toward the union joint after sweating is complete.
 
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Old 12-12-16, 06:39 AM
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beel: Great idea!

Steve: Actually I returned the 2 bad unions to lowes and I told the clerk that chinese unions may not be good - and we looked at the package and they were MADE IN AMERICA!! Also note that the treads do not perform the seal itself in a union; the threads simply compress the two mated flared/balled edges together.

I still don't understand how they can make a union that has only one hex to grab/turn. If I'm turning the compression hex nut to joint the union, shouldn't I be holding the other half of the union (another hex) to stop the massive torque on the pipe?
 
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Old 12-12-16, 12:37 PM
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Also note that the treads do not perform the seal itself in a union; the threads simply compress the two mated flared/balled edges together
That's true, the threads aren't meant to seal. However the quality matters to me.
It's like a 1/2" compression nut and ferrule on an angle stop valve. Some quality nuts (valve bodies) turn easily and others you struggle with or need to lubricate.
I'm picky of the brands I use and sadly even some quality brands are skimping on metal and thread quality.
I saw a quality faucet the other day, the box said 'made in USA with imported parts'.
I was surprised and haven't seen that before from this particular manufacturer.
 
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Old 12-13-16, 07:07 AM
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If I'm turning the compression hex nut to joint the union, shouldn't I be holding the other half of the union (another hex) to stop the massive torque on the pipe?
Iím no expert to say the least, but I think you should be holding the round part of that fitting with a pipe wrench while using another wrench on the hex nut. I donít see how you could have gotten it tight enough if you didnít do that. Maybe thatís why it leaks. Maybe the other guys would disagree.

Just a thought!

(p.s. one time I wasnít paying enough attention and didnít use a second wrench and twisted a copper pipe into a pretzel, lol)
 
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