FAQs and Common Plumbing Terminology

FAQs and Common Plumbing Terminology

A supply line is the portion of the plumbing system connected to the supply of potable water (municipal system or well) that delivers that water to various fixtures in the building. In most structures, there are two supply lines – one routed through the hot water heater and the other routed directly from the source for cold water. Learn more about our Water Armor® PEX plumbing parts used in plumbing supply lines here.

Plumbing fitting, or fittings, is a general term for brass or plastic parts that are designed to connect tubes together, connect to valves, or connect to other fittings. Plumbing fittings come in a wide variety of ends. The Brass Warehouse offers a full line of brass fittings for residential and commercial plumbing projects that comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, including ECO BRONZE® Adapters, Couplings, Drop Ears, PEX Elbows, and PEX tees for all your plumbing PEX crimp needs.

A brass valve is a general term describing a fitting that can be used to interrupt the flow of water to the rest of the plumbing system.

An adapter is a plumbing fitting with two ends, each of a different mating type. There are straight adapters and elbow adapters as well as male sweat, female sweat, male threaded, female sweat, and swivel. PEX adapters are used specifically for connecting to PEX tubes or PEX piping. Learn more about our full range of bronze PEX adapters.

Brass couplings are fittings with two, similar ends which are in-line with one another. Learn more about our PEX couplings.

A drop ear is a fitting with two or three ends where one end is at a 90° angle to the other (two) and is a female threaded end. These are commonly used for shower heads but can be used for many purposes. Technically, they could be called an “adapter elbow” because they connect dissimilar ends which are 90° apart. Drop ear fittings feature two or three mounting ears that allow you to secure the fitting against a wood surface. Select from our line of PEX drop ears.

An elbow is a plumbing fitting with two ends that can change the direction of the water from one tube to another. The change in direction is most commonly 90° but can be 45° or 60° as well. Learn about the available range of styles and sizes of elbow fittings.

A tee is a fitting with three ends where two of the ends are in-line and the third is at 90°. The sizes for a tee typically start with the two in-line ends and end with the end that is “on top”. Reducing tees are a useful transition piece when the system needs to transition from one size pipe to another. The measurement of a reducing tee is indicated as left, right, and top. So ½ x ½ x ¾ would indicate that the run (or straight part) of the T is ½ and and the 90° top would be ¾. Learn about the available range of styles and sizes of plumbing tee fittings here.


Dezincification is the loss of zinc in brass components. By selecting high quality brass plumbing parts from a USA brass supplier, like The Brass Warehouse, you can be confident that quality brass parts provide outstanding resistance to dezincification and corrosion. When brass fittings and plumbing pipes lose their zinc, it results in leaks and/or complete pipe blowouts. Unfortunately, dezincification isn’t often apparent until leaks occur. Learn more about dezincification and ECO BRASS solutions here.

A drain-waste-vent (DWV) system is the portion of the plumbing system that removes waste water, including sewage and greywater, from a commercial building or residential home. Brass parts and fittings, such as brass elbows and brass tees, make an excellent choice for DWV systems because of their corrosion resistance. Learn more about corrosion-resistant ECO BRASS® here.

What is PEX A, PEX B, PEX C?
These are the three most common types of PEX tubing. Each is selected for use based on the system that is being installed. The primary difference is the flexibility of the piping with PEX A being the most flexible.

PEX to Polybutylene tubing?
Polybutylene is made of plastic resin and was popular for installation between 1980-1995. It is often grey while PEX is generally white. These come in elbows, tees, and inline adapters. Because of its large installation base, there is a need for PEX to Polybutylene connections.

What is PEX aluminum?
Commonly used in creating heated floors, PEX aluminum tubing has an aluminum layer to decrease the oxygen transfer between the contained water system and the atmosphere. This is used only in closed water systems.


GHT stands for Garden Hose Thread. This brass component is likely the most familiar part because they are used at almost every home. The garden hose thread is unique because it has a female to male thread system. There is also a connection that has a swivel feature so that as you twist the component, you do not twist the attached hose.

Polybutylene is made of plastic resin. It is often grey while PEX is generally white. Because of its large installation base, there is a need for PEX to Polybutylene connections.

Purchasing parts from a wholesaler brings you industry knowledge and support that ensures you get the best part for your project, every time. Read more here.

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We take pride in supporting and servicing the needs of distributors, professional plumbers, and companies who need bulk quantity and wholesale orders. We have bulk quantity plumbing parts, brass rods, and antimicrobial products available. Contact us today to begin your bulk order.

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Yes. The Brass Warehouse offers a special distributor program that enables us to proudly partner with qualified distributors of plumbing products to help support the sales and distribution of American made brass and bronze products. Please note that The Brass Warehouse distributor program is exclusive to professional plumbing parts and supplies distributors. Learn more about the benefits of establishing an account with the Brass Warehouse distributor program here.

Dezincification Frequently Asked Questions

Defining dezincification and the resulting problems it can cause: Dezincification is the selective loss of zinc from brass resulting in a weak spongy copper layer at the water contact surface. It’s an electrochemical reaction between zinc and certain chemicals found in water, and can progress through the part causing leaks and blockage of the water path if it forms a “meringue” deposit. The loss of the wall’s cross section can cause mechanical failure by straight-forward fracture or increased vulnerability to stress corrosion cracking.

Corrosion occurs in every material under the proper conditions, but understanding the fundamentals will allow you to make effective choices regarding correct alloy selection for new applications. Furthermore, this information will help in guiding corrective actions to address field failures and concerns about the changing corrosiveness of water. This is important when dealing with changing standards, legislation, or codes which disqualify the use of traditional materials.

There are two types of dezincification: layer and plug. With layer dezincification, the progression is slow along a broad front. This is primarily caused by water high in oxygen and carbon dioxide, slightly acidic water with a low salt content, soft water with a low pH and low mineral content, or waters high in chloride ions. Plug dezincification progresses faster and is localized. It’s caused by neutral or alkaline waters that are high in salt content with a temperature at or above room temperature.

Absolutely. Stress corrosion cracking is rapid cracking in susceptible copper alloys caused by the combination of high stress and exposure to chemicals which attack the grain structure. In this case, problem chemicals such as ammonia, sulphates, and mercury are to blame. Erosion corrosion is another type caused by fluid moving rapidly over a part’s surface resulting in loss of material and can include mechanical wear and abrasion as contributors.

Zinc has weaker atomic bonds than copper, which is more noble than zinc, making it more resistant to corrosion. Also, zinc more readily forms compounds than copper. As a result, 15% zinc has been the traditional maximum limit for avoiding dezincification, however, not all brasses are prone to dezincification. It turns out that brasses containing up to 35% zinc are dezincification resistant because of the use of certain alloying elements and/or thermal treatments.

Residual elements in the brass such as iron, manganese, and cobalt, in addition to the previously mentioned water conditions, can be a factor at some concentration levels. Further, poor manufacturing controls that stabilize a zinc-rich phase and poor control of copper and zinc, resulting in higher than specification zinc contents, can contribute to poor dezincification resistance.

The universally recognized ISO 6509 test was standardized in 1981 because it was a short and simple test that produced results that correlated with long-term potable water corrosion problems in Sweden, Australia, and South Africa. It is the best test for dezincification resistance, and often it is the basis for other similar performance testing methods.

Thermal treatments are one technique to improve dezincification, but have been shown to not be completely effective in arresting dezincification and are prone to reduce strength and machinability. Another popular method is the addition of inhibitors, however too high a concentration can cause undesirable property changes, making the alloy brittle. Inhibitors can also cause other damaging forms of corrosion and might combine with certain residual elements like iron and manganese, rendering them ineffective.

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