Some garden hoses are produced with aluminum fittings at each end. On the surface, this seems like a great idea–aluminum doesn’t rust, so it should last forever! Rust is only one of the types of corrosion that can destroy metals, and parts of your plumbing system. Hose bibbs (faucets) are generally made from brass, which is safe to use in contact with copper because brass itself is an alloy of copper and zinc and is therefore not dissimilar. You can buy a garden hose with brass or even plastic connections and do just fine, but beware of aluminum!
The most common type of corrosion is called galvanic corrosion. Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical process that occurs when two dissimilar metals come into contact with each other. Have you ever had a garden hose that just wouldn’t come loose, even with a wrench? You were probably dealing with the results of galvanic corrosion.
When you put an aluminum hose connection on a brass bibb, you create a reaction: galvanic corrosion. Neither one of these metals will corrode on their own in contact with water, but when they’re put together, you’re in trouble. The aluminum acts as an anode, and the brass acts as a cathode; this creates an electron flow every time the two metals are in contact with an electrolyte–or every time you run water through your hose. The aluminum will start to literally dissolve, and wherever it’s in direct contact with brass, it will reform itself and fuse to the other metal. Just like that, your hose is stuck–and, if undealt with, it will eventually start to further melt away and leave you with a hose that leaks like a sieve and still won’t come loose.
The moral of the story? Don’t put dissimilar metals in contact with each other–especially not in the presence of water! If you’re in the market for a new hose, make sure you buy one with brass connections at each end–and check the metal on your sprayer, too! If you already have a hose with aluminum fittings, throw it away or replace the connector.
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