In your search for DIY plumbing knowledge, you may have run across posts discussing SharkBite plumbing fittings. These are generally copper fittings with small plastic tube reinforcements built in. DIYers unfamiliar with this particular fitting might not understand how it works. They might also not know whether the fittings are reliable.
In terms of the reliability issue, SharkBite fittings are extremely reliable. They are designed in such a way as to make leaks and breaks nearly impossible. That is not to say a SharkBite fitting can never fail. Anything is possible. But failure is rare when the fittings are installed correctly.
A Push-Connect Fitting
A SharkBite fitting is a push-connect fitting. SharkBite is actually a brand name rather than a generic connector type. But just like ‘Coke’ has become a generic term to refer to just about every brand of cola, plenty of professionals use ‘SharkBite’ as a generic term for describing push-connect fittings.
The fittings are known as ‘push-connect’ because no tools or soldering are required. You simply push the copper or plastic line into the fitting as far as it will go. Inside the fitting are the two secret weapons that make this technology so efficient.
First is a series of teeth that go around the entire inner diameter of the fitting. These teeth grab onto the copper or plastic line and won’t let go. Directly adjacent to the teeth is an O-ring that creates a watertight seal. Between the teeth and the O-ring, a SharkBite fitting can connect two pieces of line that can fully rotate without leaking.
Typical SharkBite Uses
SharkBite connectors can be utilized for all sorts of plumbing projects. They are most typically utilized for residential plumbing. You will find them employed when tapping into water lines to connect dishwashers and refrigerators, for example. Both plumbing professionals and DIYers turn to SharkBite connections when they have to replace small pieces of damaged water line.
Salt Lake City Utah’s Salt City Plumbing says that the fittings can be used behind walls as long as they are installed correctly. But they still recommend creating some sort of access just in case something goes wrong. The last thing you want is to put any kind of fitting in a location that limits your access. Fittings can leak, and not having access could create big problems.
A Straight, Clean Cut
Though SharkBite fittings can be used with copper, PEX plastic is more common. But in order to get a fitting to work correctly with PEX, you have to make sure that you get a straight and clean-cut. In other words, your cut on the PEX needs to be straight so that the tube goes in all the way and sits flat against the inside wall. It needs to be clean so that there is nothing that could damage the O-ring upon insertion.
Fortunately, you can purchase a deburring tool to clean up the ends of your PEX tubes. Just insert the tube and rotate the tool. It will flatten the tube edge and simultaneously deburr it. As an added bonus, you can use the tool as a depth gauge. Just insert your tube into the tool and then mark it where it meets the tool’s outside edge. You will know you have inserted the tube fully into the SharkBite fitting when it reaches the line you marked earlier.
SharkBite fittings are among the easiest plumbing fittings to use. They do not require any special tools or knowledge. They can also be deployed quickly. It is no wonder so many plumbers and DIY homeowners are using them.