Nibco Shutoff Valve Prohibited on Potable Water

ohmmm_gwAugust 1, 2014

Just bought a house last month. Prior owner had a new 40gal electric water heater put in recently. He bought it at Menards, a popular hardware store in the upper midwest area. Had someone install it for him.

So I was down looking at it again today. I knew I needed to move the expansion tank that was installed. It is completely blocking the anode rod extraction area. No way to remove the anode rod with the tank where it is. Great planning on that installation.

So I was down looking at the space and making notes of what I need to get at the hardware store. And I made a note of the shutoff valve info. And I looked up the valve online on the manufacturers page.

Low and behold, the Nibco S-FP-600 series valves are listed as being "prohibited on US potable water systems after January 3, 2014." (See last photo, second to last bullet point....that is from their web page.)

I was like..whaaaaa. Am I being poisoned from something leeching from this valve into the water???

I sent an email to the manufacturer asking why this is so.

Looks like it is time for a replacement shutoff.

What should I use that is not going to be "prohibited?" Preferably NOT made in communist China.

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The response from Nibco was this: "Due to the passing of the National Lead free law, "leaded" valves could not be used in new construction or repair after Jan 3. The valve is not dangerous, it just contains more lead than is currently allowed for new construction and repair."

So my thought is, then it's okay to ingest even tiny amounts of lead over time, just like the Romans and their aqua ducts? I don't think that worked out well for their mental health.

It's ok to be slowwwwwwly poisoned over time. Just so long as it's not all at once. Hmmmm. Somehow, I am not really fine with that.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Take a good look at your T&P Valve.. It also is brass and contains lead. Bet that it is made by WATTS

I worked for Watts Regulator in the foundry that made brass ball valves, T&P valves and other brass fittings. The lead is added to the molten brass to soften it for machining. The lead added was a small amount and added by the pound. We added aprox. 20 lbs of lead to each 2500 lbs of brass. Zinc was also added to "kill" the oxygen that could cause bad castings.

Nibco brass fittings are made in Mexico and Poland mostly. And are aimed more for the gas business (natural and LP) for home use. So who knows what the lead percentage may be in their products.

If you are concerned about the lead. Check out Apollo Stainless Steel Ball Valves. They cost quite a bit more but are well worth the investment in the long run.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 12:03AM
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OTOH, since you don't normally consume water that comes from the HOT faucet, this one installation shouldn't be a health concern.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 5:20PM
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Okay... so the regulations for lead have tightened up. I think it started in Californian and Vermont, and then Maryland. Since manufacturers don't want to make special inventory for a few states, they ask the feds to apply it nationwide. This has happened also with things like car emissions, light bulb efficiency (yep, those efficiency standards that conservatives go on about were requested by manufactures to eliminate piecemeal standards by states).

This is a good thing since plumbing parts can be in domestic water supply infrastructure for 100 years or more - it's good to raise the standards. That said, it doesn't mean that you need to jerk out the existing. If you still have lead pipe - that should go for sure...but you don't need to pull your pre-2014 brass valves and such. The truth is that the old valves might even meet the new regs, or be very close... but the burden of certifying them isn't worth it for the manufacturer.

Keep in mind that smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle are the things that are far more likely to poison you in long term - not a very tiny amount of lead in brass valve body.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:17AM
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uh, ohmmm - see all that copper pipe you have ? All of those joints were soldered and I'll bet you a donut it has lead in it.

So, you're not escaping it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:54PM
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could be worse. Could be pewter.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 4:10AM
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