Repairing or installing water lines within your home typically requires that you use crimpers, adhesives or solder. However, adhesives can smell awful and be a very messy undertaking. Also, crimpers are pricey, can be difficult to install in smaller areas and solder requires that you use an open flame to heat the pipes.
Conventional plumbing methods require that you have the patience, expertise and tools to implement them. However, for an easier install, consider using SharkBite fittings. You can install SharkBite fittings in a matter of minutes using some basic tools that you probably already have in your home.
Installing SharkBite fittings on copper piping essentially involves only two basic steps. You’ll need to cut the pipe to size and push it into the properly sized SharkBite fitting. Sound easy enough? Let’s explore SharkBite fittings in further detail. We’ll also provide you with plenty of specifics to help you successfully install your SharkBite fittings on a copper pipe.
What are SharkBite Fittings and How Do They Work?
SharkBite fittings are simply plumbing fittings designed as a push-to-connect system. They can create very strong connections with simple, easy installation.
The SharkBite’s advanced push-fit connection system works in two stages. For the first stage, when the pipe or tube is inserted into the fitting it passes through a release collar and then a grab ring made of stainless steel. The teeth on the grab ring will then open out to grip onto the pipe.
At the second stage, the pipe is pushed into an o-ring protector that will align the pipe. The o-ring is specially formulated to compress between the wall of the fitting and the pipe. This will happen before the end of the pipe reaches the tube stop. A secure joint and water tight seal is created once the pipe passes through the o-ring and hits the tube stop.
According to Reliance Worldwide, the manufacturers of SharkBite, these fittings are only designed to be used with tubing/piping that is certified to the following terms:
- Copper (ASTM B 88)
- PEX (ASTM F876, CSA B137.5)
- CPVC (ASTM D 2846, CSA B137.6)
Finding the Correct Pipe and Fitting Size
Before beginning any of the steps to install your SharkBite fittings, you need to select the correct size copper pipe and fitting for the job. Determining what size pipes you need for your particular project can be a challenge. Most people assume that pipe size refers to the pipe’s outer diameter when it’s actually the “nominal diameter.”
Fitting sizes can be equally confusing as the inside diameters need to be large enough to fit the outside diameter of the copper pipe. For example, a half-inch plastic elbow has a 1-1/4 inch outside diameter.
Converting Actual Diameter to Nominal Diameter
In order to determine that you are using the correct size pipe and fitting, you need to know the nominal diameter. You can do this by following these conversion steps and referencing the conversion chart below:
For Female Threads
- Measure the Inside Diameter (ID) of your pipe or fitting using a ruler or tape measure.
- Use the chart below to determine the nominal diameter (actual pipe size)
For Male Threads
- Measure the Outside Diameter (OD) of your pipe or fitting:
- Wrap a string around the pipe
- Make a mark on the pipe where the string touches together
- Using a ruler or tap measure, find the length between the mark you made and the tip of the string. This will give you the circumference.
- Divide the circumference by pi (3.14159)
- Use the chart below to determine the nominal diameter (actual pipe size)
Nominal Diameter Conversion Chart
|Inside or Outside Diameter||Decimal Equivalent||Nominal Diameter|
Determining the Correct SharkBite Fitting Size
Now that you are familiar with what pipe size, OD, ID and nominal pipe diameter means, you can use the table below in order to determine the correct corresponding SharkBite fitting size for your project.
|Pipe OD||Pipe Insertion
|1/4 in.||1/4 in. CTS||3/8 in.||0.82||21|
|3/8 in.||3/8 in. CTS||1/2 in.||0.94||24|
|1/2 in.||1/2 in. CTS||5/8 in.||0.95||24|
|5/8 in.||5/8 in. CTS||3/4 in.||1.13||29|
|1 in.||1 in. CTS||1-1/8 in.||1.31||33|
|1-1/4 in.||1-1/4 in. CTS||1-3/8 in.||1.88||48|
|1-1/2 in.||1-1/2 in. CTS||1-5/8 in.||2.05||52|
|2 in.||2 in. CTS||2-1/8 in.||2.19||56|
Connecting a SharkBite Joint to a Copper Pipe
Once you’ve secured the correct size fitting and piping, you can begin installing the SharkBite fitting onto your copper pipe. Before you begin, double check that the fitting and piping are in good condition, clean and free of any foreign objects or obvious damage. Here are the steps to properly connect your SharkBite joint to the copper pipe:
- Cut the copper pipe. Using a rotary tube cutter, cut the pipe so that the ends are square and flush. You want to avoid and burrs or damage on the cut end.
- Use SharkBite Depth Deburr Gage to mark insert depth. This product is sold separately from the fitting but should be used alongside a permanent marker to mark the insert depth on the outside of the pipe. This mark will help ensure that the fitting is installed correctly
- Insert the pipe into the SharkBite fitting. You need to insert the pipe through the release collar allowing it to sit against the grab ring.
- Push the pipe. Using a slight twisting motion, push the pipe firmly into the SharkBite fitting until you hit the tube stop.
- Ensure proper placement. To make sure that the pipe has been properly inserted, verify that the depth mark you made is within 0.005 inches of the end of the release collar.
Disconnecting a SharkBite Fitting
If you need to disconnect a SharkBite fitting for any reason this can only be done by using their disconnect clip or disconnect tongs. Using either the tongs or clip, you’ll need to apply pressure to the release collar. This will effectively splay the grab teeth and release the pipe, allowing it to be removed for the SharkBite fitting. Here are the steps in further detail:
- If using the SharkBite disconnect clips, place it on the pipe with the logo facing away from the release collar.
- Pushing the clip against the release collar, pull the tube with a twisting motion to release.
- For the SharkBite disconnect tongs, placing the teeth around the fitting, make sure that the logo is positioned around the pipe and the other end on the neck of the fitting.
- Squeeze the tongs with one hand and pull the pipe with the other.
- Use a twisting motion to release the tube.
If done correctly, the pipe and fitting will be free of any foreign objects, damage and marks on the outside diameter.
Can SharkBite fittings be used for water, air and gas?
SharkBite fittings are rated for use with water, but are not recommended for use with air or gas.
How long do SharkBite fittings last?
If installed properly, they can last quite a long time. When used with SharkBite tubing, SharkBite covers their fittings under a 25-year warranty.
Can SharkBite fittings leak?
Yes, SharkBite fittings are not immune to leaking. However, the cause is typically due to a pipe not being properly inserted, deburred or because of debris and scratches on the outside. This will prevent the O-ring from achieving a completely water tight seal.
Can SharkBite fittings be used underground?
Although recommended to be used in accordance with an access panel, SharkBite fittings are IAPMO tested and are approved for underground and behind-the-wall use.
According to IAPMO Research and Testing:
“Push fit fittings can be utilized in underground applications and as manufactured joints without access panels.”