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Its possible you encountered galvanic corrosion. When different metals come together, the corrosion due to one gets transferred to the most active metal. If you had a steel ball in a brass or copper body, that would be disaster.

The most common way to deal with this kind corrosion is to attach a more active metal like zinc to the metal. Bars of zinc have been used for this.

But as a practical matter simply checking for corrosion occasionally could be your best solution. Or maybe a stainless steel valve would last longer.

In chemistry, this is known as the activity series. Zinc is higher than iron is higher than copper. You can find info on all metal elements if you look for it. But some like aluminum get protected with an oxide film. So difficult to predict.
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