Traditional plumbing involves soldering copper pipe or gluing together plastic pipe. These plumbing skills are developed only through years of practice and experience. The Sharkbite system is designed for "do-it-yourselfers" who have no soldering or gluing skills. All you do is cut the pipe, clean it, and slip on the fitting. Because of its design, it forms a leak-proof seal without soldering or glue.
According to Reliance Worldwide, which is the parent company and sole distributor of the Sharkbite system, the Sharkbite connectors will work on a variety of pipes. These include copper, CPVC and PEX pipe. The system is designed to fit all off-the-shelf types of plumbing pipe. Sharkbite couplings will also fit any combination of pipes. For example, in a T fitting you can connect a copper pipe to one side, a CPVC pipe to the other side and a PEX pipe to the third outlet. This is because the outside diameter of all these different pipes is the same.
Sharkbite fittings come in a variety of sizes. They are designed to fit pipe sizes from 1/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter. A very common size is 3/4 inch or 1/2 inch pipe. The larger size is used for the main feeds to a house, and the smaller size is used for branch feeds such as to a faucet. Fittings come in a variety of configurations, including elbows, straight connectors and T fittings. T connectors may be sized to accept a 3/4-inch diameter pipe on one side, a 1/2-inch diameter pipe on the other side, and a 3/8-inch diameter pipe on the third side. It is then up to the plumbing designer to determine which size pipes and fittings are needed.
A unique feature of Sharkbite fitting is the ability to be quickly disconnected. A special horse-shaped tool is used to disconnect the fitting from the pipe. This is designed as a time-saving convenience feature. Tools are available for different sizes of pipe and corresponding fitting size. If you make a mistake, the fitting can be quickly disconnected and reused again and again.
Sharkbite fittings and PEX tubing is certified for hot and cold water by various government and private agencies, such as the National Sanitation Foundation. They are certified for potable water and closed- loop systems that use propylene glycol as an antifreeze. Many solar heating systems use closed loops. The Sharkbite, however, is not recommended for use on decayed polybutylene tubing or chrome-plated pipe.
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