Problems With Yellow Brass Pipe Fittings And How To Identify Them

Problems With Yellow Brass Pipe Fittings and How to Identify Them


Jerry L. Work

Brass pipe and fittings can lead to potential problems depending upon the manufacture of the metal. Brass is an alloy of zinc and copper. It is usually classified into two groups, red and yellow. Yellow brass contains more zinc. Yellow brass plumbing is known to deteriorate and leak causing damages to homes, businesses, etc. The problem is mainly on the inside of the pipe and can be hard to detect until it is too late. But careful observation along with a professional inspection can help to deflect flooding, water damage, mold infestation.

The problem begins with zinc. Water running through yellow brass pipes and fittings causes the leaching of zinc into the water. Zinc oxide builds up on the inside of the pipe restricting water flow. The leaching of the zinc, also called dezincification, weakens the pipe and causes failure of the pipe. Though most of the damage to the pipes is on the inside, some tell tale signs begin to pop up. Homeowners and building maintenance workers can keep a diligent eye on the pipes for signs of problems. Hopefully they are detected before any serious damage is done. Also keep in mind that some buildings have only brass fittings and the pipes are of a different material. Brass fittings are prone to the same problems as the pipes.


Most of the time, the deteriorization of brass pipes and fittings produces pinhole leaks. These can be detected by seeing a leak or by seeing mineral buildup on the outside of the pipe. Zinc oxide, the mineral that is leached out of the brass is a whitish powdery substance that may be seen on the outside of the pipe. This should be addressed immediately. Only a plumber can tell how long a pipe will last before giving out entirely. With pinhole damage already done, it is only a matter of time before a larger hole develops and causes damage to other building components.

A simple home improvement is to get any yellow brass fittings replaced. Pipe replacement may also be required if the pipes are also yellow brass. The ultimate is a repiping where all the plumbing in the building is replaced. Yellow brass fittings and pipes are probably going to need to be replaced at some point as the defect is not in design, but in material. They may not last very long in areas that have higher chemical content in the water. This speeds up the leaching.

SageWater is the nation’s pipe replacement specialist for


, yellow brass and copper. With over 20 million feet of new pipe installed in over 63,000 occupied apartment complexes, homes and offices. Besides being more efficient and cost-effective, occupants can comfortably stay put during the

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