Copper pipe is a commonly used material for plumbing in homes and businesses. It is essential that the pipes are properly connected if we want to avoid leaks. Soldering the pipes together can be a hassle and not always practical. Luckily there are some great alternatives.
-The most common method for connecting copper pipes without soldering is by using compression fittings that require a machine to close them.
-Recently push-on connections (or push to connect) such as Sharkbite have been introduced. These make it easy and fast to connect copper pipes. It’s easier than soldering and much quicker to fix any leaks or problems in your copper pipe. Some plumbers argue that they are not as strong as compression fittings though. Let’s explore this further.
What is a compression fitting to connect a copper pipe?
Soldering copper is a great way to combine pipes. However, it requires a lot of labor and can be done in the wrong way, causing leaks. This is why compression fittings have been introduced. A fitting is a piece that is wider than the copper pipes. It goes over the pipes and connects them. These are a lot easier to install and allow plumbers to work faster. Furthermore, you can do it with very few instructions.
You have to take the length of the fitting into consideration when you measure the pipe. The fitting has to slide deep enough over the pipe so that you don’t have a leak! Drawing a line on your pipes can help you to know where you have to install the fitting. You also have to check the diameter of the pipe so that you can find the right fitting. It is essential that you deburr your pipes before you use a compression fitting. This is done with a deburring tool.
Here is how to install it:
-A threaded compression fitting has 3 pieces (see the video above). Prepare your pipe by cutting it properly. Once this is done, you simply slide the three pieces of the compression fitting over the pipe and use two wrenches to tighten the nuts. It can be challenging to know how much you have to tighten them. Don’t overtighten the nuts as they can break.
What is a slide-on or push-to-connect fitting to connect copper pipes?
Machines for compression fittings are quite expensive and might not be accessible for DIY’ers. Recently push-on connections such as Sharkbite have been introduced. These make it easy and fast to connect copper pipes. You just have to slide the pipes in the fitting.
In some instances, you will get an indication if the pipe is deep enough. Once again, you have to keep the depth of the fitting into account when cutting the pipe. Debur your pipes before you slide on the fitting.
Make sure that the pipes are clean and that no residue is found inside of them before using the fitting. Slide-on fittings are easier to remove than compression fittings so fixing a mistake is easier.
Some plumbers don’t like this type of fitting as they argue that it is less strong. While this is true, they can be a quick and easy way to repair a broken pipe. If you want to use this system behind walls and under floors is up to you. Read the instructions carefully before you start and check your local code to see what is possible.
Push-on fittings can be more expensive than compression fittings if you already have a machine for compression fittings.
The cost of a Sharkbite fitting will vary depending on the size. They typically run from $2 to $8, with the average costing about $4. It is important that you check if the connection is being made and test the fitting. Plumbers also test their system by adding water and seeing if the pressure drops after a while. Leaks should be avoided at all costs.
It is also possible to glue copper pipes together. Some plumbers don’t want to use this as they think that other options create a stronger connection between the pipes. Other plumbers enjoy using it. Make sure to do a pressure test when you use this approach. There is also a limit to the size of the pipes that this can be used with.
The harder option: Clamp fitting
-A clamp fitting (see the video above) has to be closed with a machine. Then a machine closes the compression fitting with pressure. This machine is quite expensive and requires quite some maintenance so this is mainly intended for plumbers. You can also do this manually with a special tool but this requires a lot of force and can lead to mistakes. This is mainly used if you have to add a lot of fittings.
It is a great system and the compression fitting can last for a long time. You just have to be careful when you activate the machine. Rothenberger has geat machines for this. Cheaper brands might break sooner.
PEX versus copper
Copper pipes are widely used for plumbing in homes and businesses and have a long history of use. However, their disadvantages include the following:
-It is an expensive material.
-They can corrode over time, requiring replacement or repair.
– They require professional knowledge for installation.
-Copper expands a lot and needs a lot of support so that it doesn’t bend.
Copper is being replaced by PEX in a lot of instances as it is easier to work with and cheaper to work with. Push-on fittings can be used with PEX as well. PEX is a type of plastic and it is often rolledup.This makes it easier to transport and deploy. Manifolds are used to install the hot and cold water lines. This makes PEX systems more flexible and you can add new faucets without too many issues. Just make sure that you use the right diameter so that there are no issues with the water pressure.
PEX is more dummy proof and can be used by newer plumbers. Some companies even offer kits that allow DIY’ers to install their own PEX system with some guidance. Inspectors will check your system to make sure that it works properly.
What is soldering copper pipes?
Homes often have hooks and crannies. Therefore we have to adjust our pipes to this. This is done by cutting pipes and connecting them. This makes it easy to connect the pipes without leaks.
Soldering pipes is heating them up and adding a material (such as tin) to bond the pipes and the fitting together. This solder is used in plumbing to close off small leaks or make repairs to copper pipes. Soldering copper pipes reduces the risk of breakage at joints by making them more durable and secure. There are two types of soldering: soft and hard soldering. The main difference is the material that is used to solder and the temperature at which the bond is made.
Some plumbers argue that because soldered fittings are not as strong as compression fittings, they should be replaced with the latter when possible. But on the whole, soldering copper pipe is a good option for most homeowners who want to avoid having to use more expensive machine-operated connections.
Some commercial applications still require soldered copper pipes.
Always wear protective equipment such as gloves and protective glasses when you work with copper.
To conclude, we can state that there are 2 alternatives to soldering if you want to connect copper pipes in your plumbing system. Push-on fittings allow you to slide the pipe in the fitting. Compression fittings are also put over the pipes but require a machine to close the fitting. Push connectors like SharkBite fittings or compression fittings are the easiest way to connect copper with no soldering required. But they do not as strong as compression fittings which require a machine to close them.