What are SharkBite Fittings? Their Working, Installation, Advantages, Applications

When it comes to plumbing, efficiency, and reliability are key factors. Traditional methods of soldering and gluing pipes can be time-consuming, require specialized skills, and often lead to leaks if not executed perfectly. This is where SharkBite fittings come into play. These innovative connectors have revolutionized the plumbing industry by providing a quick, easy, and effective way to join pipes without the need for soldering, threading, or other complex techniques. In this blog post, we’ll learn more about SharkBite fittings and explore why they are becoming the go-to choice for plumbers.

What Are SharkBite Fittings?

SharkBite fittings are push-to-connect plumbing connectors designed to simplify the process of joining pipes and fittings. They are made from high-quality materials, including brass, copper, and stainless steel, ensuring durability and resistance to corrosion. The fittings work by utilizing an innovative O-ring and stainless steel teeth system that securely grips the pipes when they are pushed into the fitting. This creates a watertight seal that eliminates the need for soldering, welding, or other traditional methods.

How do SharkBite Plumbing Fittings Work?

SharkBite plumbing fittings are designed to provide a quick and easy way to connect pipes and fittings without the need for traditional methods like soldering, threading, or gluing. These fittings utilize a push-to-connect mechanism that securely joins pipes together while maintaining a watertight seal. Here’s how SharkBite plumbing fittings work:

Design and Components:

SharkBite fittings are made from high-quality materials such as brass, copper, and stainless steel. They consist of several key components:

  • Body: The main body of the fitting, usually made of brass, houses the O-ring and teeth mechanism.
  • O-Ring: Inside the fitting, there is a rubber O-ring that helps create a watertight seal when the pipes are pushed into the fitting.
  • Teeth: Surrounding the interior of the fitting are sharp, stainless steel teeth. These teeth grip onto the pipe when it’s pushed into the fitting, ensuring a secure connection.
  • Collet: The collet is a plastic ring with several fingers that hold the pipe in place once it’s inserted into the fitting.
  • Disconnect Tool Grooves: On the outer surface of the fitting, there are notches or grooves where a SharkBite disconnect tool can be inserted to release the pipe from the fitting.

Installation Process:

The installation process for SharkBite fittings is straightforward and requires minimal tools and expertise. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Cut and Prepare the Pipe: Measure and cut the pipe to the desired length using a pipe cutter. Ensure that the cut is clean and free of burrs.
  • Deburr and Clean: Use a deburring tool to smooth the edges of the cut pipe. Clean the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting to remove any dirt, debris, or grease that could affect the seal.
  • Mark the Insertion Depth: SharkBite fittings have a colored indicator on the body that shows how far the pipe should be inserted. Mark this depth on the pipe to ensure proper insertion.
  • Insert the Pipe: Push the pipe into the fitting until it reaches the marked depth. The teeth inside the fitting will grip onto the pipe, creating a secure connection.
  • Check the Seal: The O-ring inside the fitting should create a watertight seal around the pipe. Visual inspection can help confirm that the connection is secure.
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Disassembly and Reuse:

One of the advantages of SharkBite fittings is that they can be easily disassembled using a SharkBite disconnect tool. This tool is inserted into the grooves on the fitting’s outer surface and releases the teeth’s grip on the pipe, allowing for disconnection. This feature allows for adjustments, replacements, or reconfigurations without damaging the pipes or the fittings.

Safety Considerations:

While SharkBite fittings are generally safe and easy to use, it’s important to follow manufacturer instructions and guidelines for proper installation. Properly deburring and cleaning the pipe, marking the insertion depth, and using the correct pipe type is crucial for ensuring a reliable connection. If using SharkBite fittings in applications involving high temperatures or pressure, make sure to use fittings specifically designed for those conditions.

Hence, SharkBite plumbing fittings work by using a push-to-connect mechanism that incorporates O-rings and stainless steel teeth to create secure, watertight connections between pipes. Their user-friendly design, quick installation process, and ability to be reused make them a popular choice for a variety of plumbing applications.

Sharkbite Fittings
Sharkbite Fittings

Benefits of SharkBite Fittings

  • Ease of Installation: One of the most significant advantages of SharkBite fittings is their ease of installation. No specialized tools or skills are required. All you need to do is cut the pipe to the desired length, ensure it’s clean and smooth, and then push it into the fitting until you feel it lock in place. This simplicity makes SharkBite fittings ideal for both professional plumbers and DIY enthusiasts.
  • Time-Saving: Traditional plumbing methods can be time-consuming due to the need for soldering or gluing and waiting for joints to cool and set. SharkBite fittings significantly reduce installation time, allowing projects to be completed faster. This is especially useful in emergency situations or time-sensitive repairs.
  • Flexibility and Reusability: SharkBite fittings are versatile and can be used with a variety of pipes, including copper, PEX, CPVC, and even some types of PVC pipes. Additionally, they can be easily disassembled using a disconnect tool, providing reusability and flexibility if adjustments or replacements are needed.
  • No Fire or Chemicals: Unlike soldering, SharkBite fittings don’t require an open flame or potentially harmful chemicals. This enhances safety during installation and reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Reliability: The O-ring and stainless steel teeth system ensure a secure and leak-free connection. When installed correctly, SharkBite fittings can provide a reliable solution that stands the test of time.

Common Applications

SharkBite fittings are suitable for a wide range of plumbing applications, including:

  • Water Supply Lines: Whether it’s connecting pipes in a new construction project or replacing old, corroded fittings, SharkBite connectors are perfect for water supply lines.
  • Repairs and Renovations: When making repairs or renovations, SharkBite fittings allow you to work efficiently without causing extensive disruptions to the plumbing system.
  • Emergency Repairs: In emergency situations, such as unexpected leaks, SharkBite fittings enable quick fixes, helping to prevent further damage.

Are SharkBite fittings reusable?

Yes, SharkBite fittings are designed to be reusable, which is one of their notable advantages. The push-to-connect design of SharkBite fittings allows you to easily disconnect and reuse them without damaging the pipes or the fittings themselves. This feature can be incredibly useful in situations where you need to make adjustments, repairs, or modifications to your plumbing system.

Examples of Sharkbite fittings
Examples of Sharkbite Fittings

To reuse a SharkBite fitting, you’ll need a SharkBite disconnect tool. This tool is specifically designed to release the grip of the stainless steel teeth inside the fitting, allowing you to safely remove the pipe. Here’s how you can reuse a SharkBite fitting:

  • Release the Connection: Insert the SharkBite disconnect tool into the notches or grooves on the outer surface of the fitting. Push the tool in until you feel it engages with the release mechanism.
  • Pull Apart: While holding the disconnect tool in place, gently pull the pipe out of the fitting. The stainless steel teeth will release their grip, and the pipe should come out easily.
  • Inspect and Clean: Once the pipe is disconnected, inspect the O-ring and teeth inside the fitting to ensure they are in good condition. Clean any debris or residue from the fitting and the pipe to ensure a clean and secure connection during reinstallation.
  • Reconnect: If you’re reusing the same fitting, follow the same installation process as you would for a new connection. Make sure to mark the insertion depth on the pipe, push it into the fitting until it reaches the marked depth, and check for a secure seal.
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It’s important to note that while SharkBite fittings are designed for reuse, excessive reuse can potentially wear down the teeth and O-ring, affecting the reliability of the connection. If you find that a fitting is becoming difficult to disconnect or that it’s not providing a secure seal after multiple uses, it might be a good idea to replace the fitting.

Overall, the ability to reuse SharkBite fittings adds to their convenience and cost-effectiveness, especially when you’re working on plumbing projects that require adjustments or modifications over time. Just remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions for proper installation and reuse to ensure reliable and leak-free connections.

Can you use SharkBite fittings underground?

Yes, SharkBite fittings can be used underground, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind when using them in this type of application. While SharkBite fittings are versatile and can be used in various plumbing scenarios, including underground installations, certain factors such as soil conditions, water pressure, and potential exposure to environmental elements need to be taken into account.

Here are some key points to consider when using SharkBite fittings underground:

  • Material Compatibility: SharkBite fittings are designed to work with a variety of pipe materials, including copper, PEX, CPVC, and some types of PVC. Ensure that the pipes you’re using are suitable for underground applications and can withstand the conditions they’ll be exposed to.
  • Soil Conditions: The type of soil in the underground location should be considered. If the soil is acidic or contains corrosive elements, it could affect the longevity of the fittings. Using pipes and fittings that are resistant to corrosion is important in such cases.
  • Protection from Elements: Underground installations are exposed to moisture, soil, and potentially harsh environmental conditions. Properly protect the pipes and fittings to prevent damage from external elements. This could involve using protective sleeves or enclosures.
  • Water Pressure and Depth: Water pressure can vary based on the depth of the installation. Ensure that the SharkBite fittings you choose are rated for the water pressure in the specific underground location. Deeper installations might experience higher pressures.
  • Accessibility and Maintenance: Consider how accessible the underground installation will be for maintenance and repairs. While SharkBite fittings are designed for easy installation and disconnection, it’s still important to plan for future access in case adjustments or repairs are needed.
  • Freeze Protection: If the underground pipes are in an area where freezing temperatures are a concern, take steps to protect the pipes from freezing and potential damage. Insulating the pipes and fittings or using heat trace cables can help prevent freezing.
  • Local Codes and Regulations: Always adhere to local building codes and regulations when installing plumbing underground. Some areas might have specific requirements for materials, installation methods, and depth of burial.
  • Sump Pump or Drainage Systems: If you’re using SharkBite fittings in conjunction with sump pumps or drainage systems, ensure that the fittings are properly sealed to prevent water leakage.
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Before proceeding with an underground plumbing project that involves SharkBite fittings, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional plumber or contractor who has experience in underground installations. They can provide valuable insights and guidance to ensure that the fittings and pipes are installed correctly, safely, and in accordance with local regulations.

While SharkBite fittings can be used underground, it’s crucial to plan and execute the installation carefully to ensure the longevity and reliability of the plumbing system in that environment.

How long do SharkBite fittings last?

The lifespan of SharkBite fittings can vary depending on several factors, including the quality of the fittings, the materials used in the plumbing system, the environmental conditions they are exposed to, and the proper installation and maintenance practices. However, when installed and used correctly, SharkBite fittings are designed to provide a reliable and long-lasting solution for your plumbing needs. In general, SharkBite warrants the fittings for 25 years when used with SharkBite tubing.

Overall, SharkBite fittings have transformed the plumbing landscape by providing a fast, reliable, and user-friendly solution for joining pipes and fittings. Their ease of installation, time-saving benefits, and versatility make them a preferred choice. With SharkBite fittings, plumbing projects become more manageable, allowing for efficient installations, repairs, and renovations without compromising on quality. Whether you’re a seasoned plumber or a homeowner tackling a DIY plumbing task, SharkBite fittings offer a secure and efficient way to get the job done right.

Anup Kumar Dey

I am Anup Kumar Dey, a Piping Engineer with more than 19 years of experience.

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