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Using SharkBite Underground

Contractor installing a SharkBite fitting underground with PEX pipe.

Installing or repairing pipes underground involves many steps: digging, cutting, draining and then making connections. Add traditional installation methods to the mix — solder, solvents, glues — and you add even more time and materials to the job. But SharkBite push-to-connect fittings simplify the process while providing quick, code-approved installations whether you’re repairing a leak or installing outdoor appliances.

Push-to-connect fittings can be installed in wet lines, even under full flow, unlike glue and solder. Installing SharkBite to correct a leak, for example, is a matter of turning off the water source, clearing the area, cutting and deburring the pipe and then inserting the fitting on the pipe ends.

Pros often ask: Can SharkBite push-to-connect fittings be used underground? The answer is yes. All SharkBite fittings are tested and approved for underground use. Different SharkBite fittings need extra preparation for direct burial though. Here is how to properly install and bury SharkBite fittings and some common causes for underground repairs.

Can You Use SharkBite Brass Push-to-Connect Fittings Underground?

SharkBite brass push-to-connect fittings are made of corrosion-resistant lead-free brass, with an EPDM o-ring and a stainless steel 316 grab ring, all of which make it durable, long-lasting and safe to use with drinking water. SharkBite brass push-to-connect fittings also work on multiple types of pipe — PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT and SDR-9 HDPE — giving you more flexibility.

The key to the perfect underground installation — one that will help the connection last — is wrapping the fitting with silicone wrap. Any SharkBite fitting containing brass must be wrapped when buried because of the different ground conditions that might affect the pipes and fittings.

Simply pull, stretch and wrap the silicone tape over the fitting. To ensure a proper seal, overlap the tape by 1 in. past the end of the fitting on each end and ¼ - ½ in. across the fitting. Completely cover the fitting by pulling the tape tight and removing the protective film. The tape will bond to itself within minutes and will cement itself within a few hours, creating a barrier from potential soil contaminants.

Wrapping in silicone is required for two reasons:

  1. By doing so, it saves you from having to play detective for soil contaminants.
  2. It also gives you warranty protection. SharkBite brass push-to-connect fittings have a 25-year warranty, but that will not apply if the installation isn’t completed properly. So that means wrap it up!
Watch SharkBite How To: Silicone Wrap on YouTube.

Can You Use SharkBite EvoPEX Fittings Underground?

SharkBite EvoPEX fittings are designed for use with PEX tubing and create permanent connections that can be rotated after assembly. A green indicator on the fitting lets you know when you’ve inserted the tubing to the proper depth, reducing the risk of initial installation errors.

EvoPEX fittings are certified for use underground without wrapping and have a 10-year warranty when buried. However, any EvoPEX fittings containing brass components should be wrapped such as:

Always remember to take proper care of your EvoPEX fittings by storing them in their sealed bags prior to use to avoid drying out the o-ring and to keep the fittings free from debris.

Contractor installing a SharkBite fitting underground with PEX pipe.

Common Causes of Underground Repairs

Pipes are buried to protect them and keep them out of the way of everyday life. Still, in any given region, there are many threats to underground systems that may require your plumbing services to repair water leaks and broken pipes.

Some common causes for underground pipe repairs are:

Corrosion. Not wrapping metal pipes can have dire consequences. Variable soil and environmental conditions can corrode metal pipes or fittings. PEX piping provides a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative.

Read more: The Sustainability of PEX vs. Copper

Intruding tree roots and pests. Just like in your home, plumbing systems can experience unwanted guests. Tree roots and pests can shift or tunnel into pipes, causing damage that requires system repairs.

Ground freezing or thawing. Burying pipe not only protects it from everyday life, but also from freezing, which can cause pipes to crack or burst. If you live in a location where freezing is common, PEX pipe may be the most appropriate pipe choice because it is more freeze resistant than other pipe types. Generally, pipes should be buried 12 in. below the frost line, but be sure to check your local code for the proper soil depth.

Natural disasters. Flooding, tornadoes and earthquakes can cause shifts in the ground that damage pipes.

Improper initial installation. As pros know, jobs need to get done quickly, and unfortunately, mistakes can happen during an initial install. Small errors on the job site can require a repair days or years down the road.

Wear and tear. Sometimes, pipes simply get old. All plumbing systems, no matter their materials, will expire at some point.

Regardless of the reason for repair, SharkBite can help you make fast, secure connections underground with push-to-connect fittings that take seconds to install.

Read More: Plumber uses SharkBite fitting to fix underground pipe leak