How to Properly Install SharkBite Brass Push Fittings
Pros know SharkBite brass push-to-connect for its quick install times and versatility. While the phrase “Cut. Push. Done.” seems to just about sum up the installation process, there’s actually a little more to it. An improper installation will result in an unstable connection, which could result in damage to the customer's home and a huge hit to your reputation. To help make sure your push-to-connect installs are sound, we’re walking through the common mistakes and keys to success in each phase of the installation process.
How SharkBite Push-to-Connect Technology Works
Knowing how the fittings work on the inside can help explain why each step is important to making a secure connection. SharkBite brass push-to-connect uses an advanced push-to-connect design that works in two stages.
- When the pipe is inserted into the fitting, it first passes through a release collar and then through a stainless steel grab ring. The grab ring has “teeth” that open out and grip onto the pipe.
- The pipe is then pushed through an o-ring protector, which aligns the pipe. A specially formulated o-ring is then compressed between the wall of the fitting and the pipe before the end of the pipe reaches the tube stop.
This is important: Only when the pipe has passed through the o-ring and reaches the tube stop is a secure joint created.
Because of this design, installation requires three steps to ensure the pipe you’re using locks in place with SharkBite push-to-connect fittings.
1. Prepare the Pipe
Before you even cut the pipe, you’ll want to prepare your materials so you’re set up for success. Neglecting to properly prepare piping often leads to connection failures, whether caused by something getting into a fitting or a section of damaged pipe. These situations can prevent a secure connection, but they’re easily avoidable and don’t take much time to take care of.
So after you pick the correct size fitting and pipe for the job, inspect their condition.
Do: Ensure the materials are clean, undamaged and don’t have any foreign objects in them or on them. If the pipe just has dirt or debris on it, you can simply wipe it off with a wet cloth. If working with copper pipe that has old solder on it, you can use fine sandpaper like 180 grit to remove it, being extra careful not to scratch the pipe. Also check that the pipe is round and free from other scratches, cuts or gouges.
Don't: Forget to clean piping. Old solder, debris, glue and aging pipe can keep the o-ring from forming a clean connection or prevent the teeth from grabbing onto the pipe correctly.
2. Cut the Pipe
Cutting the pipe properly is just as important as the preparation. Not cutting the pipe square or leaving burrs on the pipe can keep the o-ring from making a watertight seal and forming a strong connection.
Do: Before you cut, leave room for an inch of space between fittings or from a wall so that the fitting can be removed if needed. Once you’ve given yourself ample space, use proper pipe cutting tools, such as rotary pipe cutters for copper tubing or pipe shears for plastic pipe, to cut the pipe so that the ends are square.
Ensure that there are no burrs, sharp sections or damage to the cut end. There are a number of deburring tools and kits available, as they are the industry standard for completing this step. The SharkBite deburr & gauge tool allows you to quickly deburr pipe with a simple rotation of the tool once the pipe is inserted.
- Forget to deburr the end of copper piping. This can damage the o-ring.
- Shine up copper with sandpaper or emery cloth like you would if you were going to solder. This can leave superficial scratches on the pipe that could cause a leak between the o-ring and the outer surface of the pipe.
- Use a hacksaw to cut pipe.
3. Connect the Pipe to the Push-to-Connect Fitting
While push-to-connect installations are designed to be less tedious than other methods, they still require technique to complete. Be sure to take these steps to create a precise and accurate SharkBite brass push fitting install.
Do: Take the deburr & gauge tool and, with a permanent marker, mark the insert depth on the outside of the pipe. If you don’t have the tool handy, you can also reference the pipe insertion depth chart and use a tape measure to mark the pipe. For the joint to be assembled correctly, the pipe needs to be pushed into the fitting until it meets the tube stop, which is indicated by the measurement mark.
Follow the steps below to insert the pipe into the fitting:
- Insert the pipe through the release collar to rest against the grab ring.
- Push the pipe firmly with a slight twisting action until it reaches the tube stop.
- To ensure that the pipe is correctly inserted, check that the depth mark is within 0.005 in (0.13 mm) of the end of the release collar.
Note: When installing SharkBite brass push-to-connect adapters, we recommend installing the threaded end of the fitting before you insert the pipe into the push-to-connect end. Installing the threaded end first will prevent pulling on the push-to-connect end as you tighten the fitting.
After installation, make sure your piping is properly supported so it doesn’t create a side load on the fitting, which could in turn cause a leak.
- Push in the piping at an angle.
- Forget to use the gauge tool to measure pipe insertion depth. People often think they’ve pushed the pipe into the fitting all the way only to find it leaking because it wasn’t fully inserted. Avoid this issue by always using the tool before attempting to make a connection.
- Remove the stiffener when using with rigid pipe, such as copper. While these types of pipe don't require the stiffener, the grab ring can be damaged when removing it. Rigid pipe will fit over the stiffener easily and hold it against the tube stop, so you can simply leave it in.
- Allow the fitting to be a weight-bearing point of the piping run.
- Bury brass push fittings underground without silicone wrap.
- Forget to winterize after installation. Protect your hard work by insulating pipes to avoid freeze failures.
Disconnecting Pipe from SharkBite Brass Push Fittings
While SharkBite brass push fittings are intended to be a permanent connection and aren’t designed for repeated connection and disconnection after the initial install, you can remove a fitting with either the SharkBite disconnect clip or the SharkBite disconnect tongs if a fitting is installed incorrectly. These tools allow you to apply pressure to the release collar, splaying the grab ring teeth and releasing the pipe from the fitting.
Do: Place the SharkBite disconnect clip around the pipe with the non-branded face against the release collar. If using the SharkBite disconnect tongs, place the teeth around the fitting assembly. The fork end with the SharkBite brand logo should be positioned around the pipe and the other end around the neck of the fitting.
Then take the following steps to disconnect the materials:
- Push the clip against the release collar and pull the pipe with a twisting action to release the pipe. If using the SharkBite disconnect tongs, squeeze the tool with one hand and pull the pipe with a twisting action to release the pipe.
- Check the fitting and pipe end for damage. The fitting and pipe should be free of damage, foreign objects and marks on the outside diameter. If the pipe is damaged or marked, then cut and use a new section of pipe before reconnecting.
Don’t: Pull on the fitting or the pipe before pushing in the release collar. While this won’t damage the fitting, it will make removal more difficult. The teeth are angled in one direction, so pulling on the fitting or the pipe without pushing in the collar will make the teeth of the grab ring dig even deeper into the piping.
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