3 Common SharkBite Installation Mistakes to Avoid
Whether you are remodeling, plumbing onsite, making repairs or working in new construction, you need connections you can count on. And while SharkBite fittings are known for their easy installation, proper technique is key to a long-lasting connection.
An improper installation causes damage to the pipe or fitting, which results in leaks, so avoiding this is essential for any plumbing application. Here are key mistakes to avoid when installing SharkBite push fittings and how to ace the process to achieve a secure connection.
1. Unprepared Pipes
A sound connection all starts with the pipe. For the best results, examine the quality of your pipe and cut, deburr, mark and clean it as needed.
Cut. Make a clean and square cut for a secure, long-lasting connection. Slanted pipe cuts create a gap between the pipe and fitting, preventing it from connecting around the pipe evenly. For the perfect cut, use rotary pipe cutters for copper tubing or pipe cutters for PEX, PE-RT, PVC, CPVC, SDR-9 HDPE and polyethylene tubing.
Deburr. This step rids tubing of any sharpness that could puncture the o-ring of a push fitting. Use the SharkBite deburr and gauge tool to deburr the pipes completely for a smooth, beveled edge. This tool is compatible with PEX, copper, CPVC, PE-RT and SDR-9 HDPE pipe. Avoid shining copper pipe with sandpaper or emery cloth like you were going to solder, as this can leave superficial scratches on the pipe that will interfere with the connection.
Clean. Free pipes of any debris like stickers, dirt, dust or copper shards so the o-ring is protected from anything that could get in the way of a proper seal on the pipe. Rinse off dirty fittings in a bucket of clean water and avoid using solvents.
2. Wrong Fitting or Technique
After properly preparing your pipe, it's important to check that you have the correct tools and follow the right techniques for your plumbing application. Picking the wrong fitting or not installing it according to instructions can leave your connections vulnerable. Here are ways to make sure your fitting installation is successful and long-lasting.
Choose the right fitting. After prepping your pipes, examine your application and determine which type of fitting you need. SharkBite offers a variety of brass push-to-connect fittings, from valves to water heater connectors to connection kits. These come in various sizes, pipe compatibilities and materials that should be considered for your specific plumbing project. See our full range here.
Consider the collar color. You not only need the right type of fitting, but one that is compatible with your pipe. SharkBite fittings come in three different collar colors that indicate their pipe compatibility. Tan collars connect with PEX, Copper, CPVC, PE-RT, and HDPE. Grey connects with Polyethylene and white connects with PVC.
Review the installation instructions. This may seem like a given, but this is key to ensure you don’t overlook any necessary steps for creating a secure SharkBite connection. Always review the installation guide before you start — you’ll find a QR code on retail bags of SharkBite Max that’ll take you straight to installation instructions for easy access.
Mark the insertion depth. You may be tempted to simply push your SharkBite fitting onto the pipe without measuring, but this can leave room for errors if the fitting isn’t pushed all the way onto the pipe. An improperly seated fitting hasn’t made a secure connection, which can cause it to fail. The only way to know for sure if you inserted the fitting completely is by marking the correct insertion depth with the SharkBite deburr and gauge tool. This mark indicates the pipe has been pushed all the way into the fitting, meeting the tube stop.
For a complete list of first-generation and SharkBite Max insertion depths, check the Insertion Depth Chart.
Wrap underground fittings. Most problems that arise from underground applications come from not wrapping the fittings. SharkBite fittings are approved for underground use as long as they are wrapped in silicone wrap. This creates a watertight and air-tight seal to protect the brass fittings from ground contaminants.
Read More: Using SharkBite Underground
3. Rough or Repeated Disconnections
SharkBite fittings are specifically designed to create a reliable connection, but disconnecting repeatedly or incorrectly can leave your fitting damaged and leaky. Read below for how to make smooth disconnections.
Correct technique. While pliers or other tools may seem to be fair alternatives, you should only use tools approved for disconnecting push fittings to avoid damaging the pipe or the fitting. Unapproved tools tend to pull or shove the fitting around, which pushes the teeth of the grab ring even deeper into the pipe.
For a fast and easy disconnection, we recommend using SharkBite disconnect tongs, clip or tool. The pro disconnect tool can be used for multiple sizes but for the tongs and clip, ensure they match the same size as your fitting. These tools allow you to apply pressure to the release collar, splaying the grab ring teeth and releasing the pipe from the fitting.
Consider tight spaces. For easy removal, allow at least 1" of spacing between SharkBite fittings. If the fitting is too close to a wall or other surface for the SharkBite disconnect tools to fit, we suggest using the SharkBite disconnect clip or tongs as they are ideal for working in tight spaces.
Avoid repeated disconnections. SharkBite fittings are not designed to be repeatedly connected and disconnected, so avoid unnecessary removals. Disconnections will eventually damage the lubrication on the o-ring, which makes it susceptible to tearing.