Plumbing With SharkBite Push-On Tubing Connectors

411 plumb People lacking soldering skills and plumbers facing an unusually difficult job of joining copper pipe have long been looking for a method to join copper tubing that was fast, easy and reliable. In the past such joining methods were limited to various compression fittings and the plastic John Guest push-on connectors. Compression fittings are prohibited by code from being used in concealed locations such as inside walls and ceilings, and require bringing together three parts and the tubing, then wrench tightening to install. John Guest push-on connectors being of plastic construction were often rejected by both DIYer’s and Plumbers alike as being weak and likely to leak from being damaged.

Plumbers and DIYer’s alike were often found struggling to make sweat joint connections on copper tubing. The DIYer’s were struggling with a lack of skill, knowledge, experience, and the same problems that experienced plumbers often faced. Plumbers often struggled with water in the pipes, and making joints in tight difficult to access locations often in locations that made torch use unsafe. Not being able to able to eliminate water from the work area is a tough obstacle to overcome. With water boiling at 212 Degrees F and solder melting in the 400 Degree F range it was a simple case of you can’t get there from here. DIYer’s resorted to the old “stuff bread in a pipe” tale which has clogged many a faucet and the plumbers resorted to devices like Jet-Sweats and larger torch tips. If the main water valve would not fully close the options were pretty much limited to having the water shut off at the curb stop by the water company and replacing the main water valve before the work could be done or, resorting to Jet Sweats with a water bypass and pipe freezing equipment. Now it can be as simple as shutting off most of the flow, cutting the pipe, then pushing on an open valve with a SharkBite connector closing the valve and reopening the Valve that wouldn’t fully close. Water in the pipes being joined has probably contributed to more bad solder joints, over heated joints, and leaks than any other cause for both DIYer’s and Pro’s, once water or steam invades a joint in the process of being sweated it becomes contaminated and must be taken apart cleaned and fluxed, before attempting to sweat the joint again.

Fortunately Cash Acme has stepped up to the plate and manufactured SharkBite Push-Fit fittings. Unlike the previously available John Guest Connectors, SharkBite Push-Fit are constructed with a heavy DZR Brass body. The DZR Brass is a dezincification resistant brass alloy. Other robust components include a stainless steel locking ring and an EPDM “O-Ring” which offers excellent resistance to water and chemicals used in sanitizing water. The brass body has a tight fitting socket referred to as the second stage that firmly grips the tube holding it in alignment. There is even a ramp type guide referred to as the o-ring protector to help keep the tubing from damaging the o-ring. I feel it is a well designed product will prove to work very well. In spite of all this many plumbers reject their use which seems to stem from a feeling that it is a threat to their job security by making plumbing too easy while other plumbers have grabbed onto them as yet another tool in the box of tricks. Plumbing has evolved a lot over the years with each new material facing this same rejection. While SharkBite’s may be very easy to use they are not inexpensive and to plumb a whole house with them would be cost prohibitive. But they are great for the hard conditions listed above, especially with torch safety issues or, transitioning between dissimilar types of tubing. They are also invaluable for temporary use during remodeling.

SharkBite’s are allowed to be used in concealed locations and even underground. They are rated for 200 PSI and 200 Degrees F. They can be used with “CTS” (copper tube size) tubing such as Copper, CPVC, and PEX when used with the plastic stiffeners enclosed with each fitting. They have been certified to ANSI/NSF-61 and ASSE 1061standards and meet IPC, UPC, and cUPC requirements for potable and hydronic heating water distribution (note: Glycol mixture for hydronics is not to exceed 50% concentration).

Recently Cash Acme introduced several SharkBite fittings which are designed for use with Polybutylene Tubing. Polybutylene Tubing was used extensively in plumbing homes and manufactured homes throughout the 1980’s and 90’s before it’s use was discontinued due to many failures, and the subsequent Class Action Lawsuit. The original SharkBite fittings were not designed or, rated for this application as the stiffening insert was sized for PEX tubing which is SDR-9 tubing and has a different inside dimension than Polybutylene Tubing which is SDR-11 tubing. The SharkBites rated for Polybutylene Tubing have a grey plastic 1st stage guide & release collar, and support sleeve instead of the brown color used on the copper, CPVC, and PEX models to distinguish them from the others. Home Depot carries the Polybutylene Sharkbites in addition to the ones for copper, CPVC, and PEX tubing.

To use SharkBite Fittings it is as simple as selecting the proper size and type of SharkBite fitting then cutting the tube to size. You then use the SharkBite Deburring Tool to bevel the end of the tube and mark the tube with a pencil. The bevel protects the O-Ring from damage due to burrs that may be on the tube from the cutting operation. The pencil mark serves as a guide to let you know when the tube has reached the proper insertion depth. You then align the tube with the SharkBite and push it into the fitting. Verify the mark has reached the release collar and the SharkBite has been installed. The tube may spin in the connection but it will not release or, leak.

To release a SharkBite it is as simple as making sure the water supply has been turned off and the pressure bled down, then using the Sharkbite Removal Tool to depress the release collar then pull the tube out of the fitting. The fitting is both releasable and reusable which makes it ideal during remodel projects where they may be used as connections on temporary water supplies bypassing and area under construction, or, for capping supplies or, stub outs so that water supply can be restored to a building while work is ongoing.

Since the successful début of SharkBite Fittings many other companies have introduced similar products. Watts the maker of John Guest connectors has introduced a line of metal push in connectors, Lowes is selling “Gatorbites” and there are several other companies making and selling similar products. A word of caution to those purchasing brands other than “SharkBite” not all of them are releasable and they may not carry the same approvals. One thing for sure, when Cash Acme introduced SharkBite Push-Fit Fittings they had made enough innovative improvements to the line that virtually all fittings of this nature used in the plumbing industry are now referred to generically as SharkBites.

Comments

  1. Richard DeWald says

    Do you have a product that will work with galvanized pipe. I have a leak in an underground water supply to an outside faucet.

    • says

      Hi Richard,
      Depending on where the leak is a “Dresser Coupling” may be what you need.
      Personally if you have a galvanized pipe underground leaking it is probably time for a complete replacement.

      Redwood

  2. USArmy_Chief says

    This is the best explaination of the push-fit fittings I’ve seen on the internet. Thank you. I am a DIYer and have used these on several repairs in the past. NOT ONE LEAK. easy to use, easy to measure and fit, easy all the way around. I just replaced my water heater and it took all of 10 minutes to set up, measure, install the fittings, fill and begin heating. Great product. Pricey, but worth it.

    • says

      Hi Chief!

      Thanks for the compliment and I’m glad you liked the article.
      It’s good to know when I’m on target with my efforts being able to read it in the comments.
      I really like those push-fit connectors too. On more then one occasion they have come in handy in a difficult situation and saved a lot of time and effort. Would I plumb a whole house with them? No the cost would be prohibitive.
      But they sure make life easy in a lot of situations!

      Thanks for the comment,
      Redwood

  3. brian says

    May want to consider buying a few extras for your job and then returning unused. I bought two “Gatorbites” from Lowes at 7:00 pm on a Sunday night (15 Min drive) only to have one of the two Gators leak and not get the job done. The other one worked great.

  4. Scott says

    Would you recommend Sharkbite valves for a main water valve? I’ve had trouble getting solder to sweat into/onto a solder type valve. The heat is getting carried away through to the outside system. I’ve even tried using map gas with no better result. I’m cautious about change temperatures affecting the valve ability of staying on under ~60 psi (the valve is rated for ~200 psi). If the valve comes off there is no way to turn the water off other than from outside.
    There is a Sharkbite on the main, and it’s working without a drip. Now that the temperatures are getting colder, I’m getting more nervous.

    If you recommend going with solder, how to I get it hot enough to sweat a joint. Map gas was no better than propane.

    • says

      Hi Scott,

      I have used SharkBite couplings on more than one main valve myself, but usually only on one side of the valve and because the water was not able to be fully shut off making soldering difficult. As long as the copper tube is type L or, M and is round you should not have any problems. Sometimes copper tube that comes in coils may be oval shaped or flattened in which case the SharkBite can’t be used.

      It’s hard to say how good or bad your sweated joint may be. I only have confidence in the ones I make and it’s not something that you can always tell by looking at, nor by the fact that it is presently not leaking. Bad sweat joints can sometimes hold and not leak but then suddenly start one day. If you do not have confidence in the joint you made perhaps you should either redo it, have a plumber do it, or use a SharkBite.

      Redwood

  5. David J. says

    I would also like to say that this is by far the best description of sharkbite fittings I’ve seen, yet. And you also finally gave me what I’ve been dying for- a cross-section of a sharkbite!!! Now I don’t have to cut one in half myself. I’m mystified by how easy they are and yet they still seem to be effective. As usual, the internet is all over the place about these fittings, but I think that you are right in that some of the old-school plumbers may be (subconsciously) threatened by how easy these are for DIY’ers. Anyway, thanks a lot.

  6. Jay C says

    Nice description, I was wondering if SharkBite connectors run a continuous ground or whether a manual ground wire needs to be runs around them if the cold water pipe is being used as a ground?

    • says

      Hi Jay,
      While there should be contact with the copper tube to the metal of the Sharkbite connector in the first stage guide and the tube stop it is not a connection that I would trust to be a solid electrical connection. Water may be present through this area all the way back to the EPDM O-Ring which will probably cause a patina on the surface of the tube and Sharkbite connector as well which would cause a high resistance connection as well. So yes I would install a jumper.

      In addition your home should not be relying on the water service line to provide the grounding for your home’s electrical system, You should contact an electrician to update your home’s electrical system by driving a ground rod near the meter and connect it to the ground buss in the electrical panel to provide the ground for your home. Grounding the home through the water service main can make a dangerous condition develop if you or a neighbor have a fault on their neutral back to the transformer on the pole. You can read about the danger at this link. Danger Lurks on the Water Service Main for the Plumber

      Redwood

  7. Jay C says

    I do have a grounding rod connected to the main but I see things like my internal phone connections (from outside) grounded to the water pipes inside well away from the circuit breaker box. This leads me to believe that the water pipes could be used as a ground as well.

  8. Nick says

    Informative – and I have a related question

    Some lengths of cpvc are not marked “CTS” Is this something that needs to be verified before using sharkbite fittings?

    Nick

  9. Regan says

    I just installed my MOEN combo tub-shower valve kit using shark bites all around for the supply lines and the connections between the valve-shower head and the valve-tub spout. I had licensed plumbers come in to connect the tub drain and check out for leaks. They said all was good but mentioned that when the water comes out of tub spout, the shower head leaks slightly. They said I might need a need valve. I connected Moen and we went through all the stacking dimensions (floor to shower head, valve to tub spout, valve to shower head. They said all was good, but that I must have restriction between the valve and the tub spout. So they asked what I used for the connections between the vavle and tub spout. I mentioned 1/2″ copper tubing and sharkbites at both ends valve & tub spout. The connection at the valve had a threads on one side to mate with the valve and sharkbite on the other for the 1/2″ copper tube that went down to the tub spout connection. The tub spout connection was a 90 deg bend with a sharkbite for the 1/2 copper and threaded for the galvanized pipe for the tub spout.
    Questions:
    1) Are the shark bites connections more restricted than regular copper fittings or even compression fittings (wedding bands). Moen is adamant that their valve is ok and that it is the sharkbite connections.
    2) I live in IN, is it acceptable to have shark bites connections behind the wall (tub, toliet, sink connections)
    Thanks,

    Regan

    • says

      Hi Regan,
      The only possible cause for the showerhead to drip under the circumstances that you describe is excessive backpressure between the valve and the tub spout causing the water to rise up the shower riser and drip from the showerhead.

      This may be caused by the pipes you installed or, excessive water supply pressure. By code the pressure in a home should be limited to less than 80 psi or, a pressure reducing valve should be installed to limit the supply pressure. What is your water pressure in the home? You can pick up a gauge that screws onto a hose bibb for $10 – 15 at many hardware stores and home centers.

      As for Question #1 the Sharkbites I have seen maintain an inside diameter that matches the copper tube. And Question #2 Sharkbites are approved for use inside walls but local codes may be amended to be more stringent than the base code. Check with your Local Authority Having Jurisdiction.

      Redwood

  10. joe polach says

    I have a 1′ galvanized steel pipe coming out of the tub wall in my old house. How do I join a 1/2 copper pipe to it…

    • says

      Hi Joe,
      Any connection of copper directly to galvanized steel will result in galvanic corrosion causing a leak in the near future. The metals are to far apart on the nobility scale to be compatible, brass on the other hand will perform quite well and a 6-8″ brass nipple installed between the copper and galvanized pipe will prevent corrosion problems.

      I suspect however, that you are looking to connect a tub spout to this pipe which will not leave you enough room to adapt using this method. I also suspect that the pipe coming out of the wall is being measured using the outside diameter rather than the inside diameter and the outside diameter is actually 0.84″ which will make it have a 1/2″ ID or, be referred to as 1/2″ pipe.

      Your solution would be to use a tub spout that has a threaded connection rather than a slip on connection and to remove the old pipe coming out of the wall. You will need to have access to inside the wall to use a second pipe wrench to hold back on the elbow while removing the galvanized nipple from it. Usually access will be from opening the wall on the other side and coming in through the back side. If you are able to remove the old galvanized nipple you can then thread in 2 brass nipples with a coupling in the middle that make up a little more wiggle room in the length with the resulting 4 threaded connections.

      If the existing nipple breaks off inside the elbow then you are probably looking at removing all the existing galvanized pipe back to the tub shower mixing valve and putting in copper instead as the best option.

      In this application unless you want a tub spout that spins around 360 degrees a SharkBite Connector being used is not recommended.

      Redwood

  11. Porter says

    I’ve used a couple of these sharkbites, and compression fittings in the past on poly. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Does anybody recommend any type of glue when connecting to gray polybutyl?

    • says

      Hi Porter,
      There is a special Sharkbite made that is especially made just for polybutylene. The end of this special Sharkbite will have grey plastic on the polybutylene end instead of the normal beige plastic. There is no glue for polybutylene tubing.
      Redwood

  12. Porter says

    Yeah, I have already tried 2 of those, and retrimmed the tube, still leaking. I find it hard to believe there is no suitable sealant or glue to complement the product.

    • says

      Hi Porter,
      I sorry to break the bad news to you but there is not a glue or, cement that is rated for joining Polybutylene connection nor will there ever be one. Polybutylene is an orphaned product as the result of the largest class action lawsuit in plumbing history. I was actually quite surprised when Cash Acme went ahead and developed a Sharkbite rated to use with Polybutylene tubing. There wasn’t a cement or, glue developed while the product was being istalled the chances of one being developed now are very slim indeed. You can read more about Polybutylene at the “How To Repair Polybutylene Pipe” article here on 411Plumb. It may actually be coming down to that time when your home needs to be repiped.

  13. Porter says

    The way I understand it, there is glue available, just not for potable water use, which is not my concern in this instance.

    • says

      Hi Porter,
      Would you care to share the product information and where you would be using it that the Potable Water Use is not a concern?
      Redwood

  14. Porter says

    Although water delivered to the toilet would be considered potable, obviously it’s not where you would be going for a drink. Goop.

    • says

      Hi Porter,
      Although the water is going to a toilet it is part of your potable water system and substances which can contaminate the water cannot be used. In fact the fill valves on toilets are required to have a vacuum breaker built into them so the water in the tank cannot be drawn back into the system during a backflow situation which would result in contamination of the water supply. Now if you said it was a pump outside that draws water out of the river to irrigate the lawn we would be talking about a non-potable water system.

      Goop! I thought you were going to say “Mighty Putty.” Although these supposedly will glue anything under the sun back together according to the manufacturers claims maybe you should write to them and say that you want it in writing that they will cover the costs of any water damage to your home in the event that your Goop repair springs a leak. Don’t hold your breath for that!

      Redwood

  15. Porter says

    Let’s don’t jump to drastic conclusions. The sharkbite I replaced already leaks. Anyway, I’m as much frightened by it contaminating my system as I am by an asteroid strike. Like many people I filter the water I drink anyway. So, for argument’s sake let’s say I am not concerned about it contaminating my system. Maybe using epoxy would be a better way to go, it sets faster, although it does get warm typically as it sets. So let’s skip the talk about contamination and other worst case scenarios. Just talk about the best adhesive or sealant to solve the problem with the least expense. Just pretend I’m talking about the water supply to my chicken house, or better yet carwash.

    • says

      Hi Porter,

      I’m not jumping to any drastic conclusions here. If your Polybutylene tubing is of a condition where a SharkBite will not make a connection to it that is leak free, you need to use another approved method of attachment that works or, repipe and get rid of the Polybutylene. It’s that simple!

      As for the backflow and cross-contamination of a water supply it is a lot more realistic than the “Big Asteroid Strike,” in fact did you know that everyday about 3,000 meteorites strike earth, every entering the atmosphere with a combined weight of over 100 tons. The fill valve on a toilet is the leading contributor in all cross-contamination source studies. Cross-contamination is real, it has happened, and it will continue to happen, when safe practices required by the plumbing code are ignored.

      Protection from backflow and cross-contamination is required wherever contaminates can get into the water supply, and the required protection is based on the severity of the threat. Your henhouse and car wash will indeed require protection. The protection is not just for you but for others that may find the water in their municipal water supply or their aquifer contaminated by your actions.

      In your case the contaminants are Toluene and Solvent Naptha in the Goop, which can cause the contamination of the water. The big problem is as I stated above the contamination can extend beyond your water supply system. But even if it doesn’t extend past your system I noticed in the information you filled out that you operate a business. Would this same system that you are working on extend the contamination risk to customers that might drink water at your place of business or, fill a water bottle there that they are taking with them on their float trip down the river?

      The threat and liabilities associated with backflow and cross-contamination are very real! It is not a subject that I will engage in debate on, nor ever give approval to someone seeking approval of an unsafe or, unapproved method they are intending to use. You will have to shop for approval elsewhere!

      Redwood

  16. Bert says

    Can I use these to connect a frost free hose bib to cpvc? When I went to remove the burst bib I cracked the cpvc. I’m hoping there’s a 1/2″ threaded to a 1/2 cts then I’ll use a 1/2″ elbow to reconnect the cpvc where it cracked. Either way this was a great read for a total non plumber. Now I just need to figure out how to repair drywall.

    • says

      Hi Bert,

      You certainly can use the SharkBite fittings as you indicated for the repair, they are available.

      However, I would use a Sharkbite Drop Ear Elbow secured in place inside the wall which maintains a downward pitch on the frost-proof hosebibb so that the tube on the hosebibb drains with the garden hose disconnected preventing future freeze damage, as well as making replacement of the frost-proof hosebibb possible in the future without opening the wall again. You will simply unscrew it from the outside and insert the new same length hosebibb in place using plumbers tape and dope to seal the threads.

      SharkBite Drop Ear Elbow

      You can also transition from CPVC to PEX tubing to make the connection possibly using fewer fittings as PEX tubing has much more flexibility than CPVC does. PEX is also more resistant to freeze damage than CPVC is. I really don’t like CPVC as a material and predict more cracked CPVC in your future.

      Redwood

  17. Thomas Williams says

    Help. DIY. Living in a house with grey poly butyl plastic pipe. It is installed in the ceiling and has begun to fail and leak. I am trying to replace the plumbing while living in the house. Any suggestions please. Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Thomas,
      I would consider re-piping with PEX Tubing to be an excellent choice, it is a crosslinked polyethylene tube that is very similar to the polybutylene tubing in its characteristics yet is the material that we should have started using instead of the polybutylene. The only consideration in terms of failure would be in the connectors used, it is available with both brass and plastic connectors so if the water supply in your area is aggressive towards brass then plastic connectors should be used. Due to the fact that PEX is a flexible tube similar to the polybutylene you should be able to snake it through the walls and ceilings following the existing path of the polybutylene with minimal invasiveness. I have often placed a connector on the end of the PEX and into the polybutylene without crimping, then pushed the PEX into a small hole in the wall or, ceiling while someone slowly and steadily pulled the polybutylene out. I’ve done pulls in this manner as long as 20′ without any holes in between.

      There are several different methods used to secure the ends onto the tubing. Wirsbo/Uponor uses a rather expensive tool which expands the PEX tubing then the connector is inserted into the tube while expanded and the tubing then contracts securing itself to the fitting. Another method uses a solid ring which is placed around the tube then crimped securing the tube to the connector, this method requires different crimping dies for each size of tubing used. The third method uses a stainless steel crimp ring that is somewhat similar to a hose clamp that has ears on one side which are pinched with the crimping tool securing it in place, these are called SSC or, Oetiker Clamps and require only one tool for all sizes. I would consider the SSC or, Oetiker Clamps to be the best option for a DIYer.

      If you have additional questions I’d suggest joining the 411Plumb Forums and I could help you much easier there.

      I hope this helps,
      Redwood

  18. Boden says

    I have a water pressure regulator that I need to replace on my main water line. The water line is 1/2″ copper. I see that Sharkbite sells their own pressure regulators with their push fittings on both sides. Have you had any experience with these? It worries me a little because pressure on one side of the regulator is at 110 PSI. I’m trying to do this replacement myself and without having to solder.

    • says

      Hi Boden,
      The Sharkbite Pressure Reducing Valve is an excellent choice in your application where you do not want to solder. You can also buy any other brand valve with IPS threads and screw on Sharkbit adapters as well. As long as you deburr the end of the tube so the o-ring is not damaged while inserting the tube, and the tube is fully inserted you shouldn’t have any problems.

      Do you presently have an expansion tank on your water heater or, will you be installing one as well?

      Redwood

      • Boden says

        Thanks Redwood!

        I do not have an expansion tank on my water heater yet. I thought all along that my T&P valve kept leaking because I had no expansion tank. But now it appears it’s leaking because of the water pressure. But I still think I have a closed loop system so I need an expansion tank.

        • says

          Hi Boden,
          The Pressure Reducing Valve should maintain the pressure on the regulated side to less than 80 psi. unless you have a closed system and thermal expansion in the water heater takes the pressure higher. In that case a thermal expansion tank on the water heater will absorb the pressure increase from thermal expansion and keep the pressure constant. Usually the T&P will only drip when the water heater is heating when this is the case, when the water heater is not heating the dripping will stop.
          Redwood

          • Boden says

            Yeah I have cut the power to my water heater over night a few times, hoping the dripping would stop, only to find it still dripping in the morning. I just thought at that point that the T&P valve was starting to go bad from overuse. Now it makes sense that the water pressure to the house would be causing this. I’ve cut the power to the water heater again and will be checking the water pressure in the house one more time to make sure no heated/expanded water is forcing the water pressure up more than it typically is.

            Either way I think I need an expansion tank because I’m pretty sure there’s a check valve at my meter where my water line Tees off from the main in the subdivision. I just don’t want to install an expansion tank until I get the pressure worked out, so I can then adjust the pressure of the tank to match the correct water pressure in the house.

            Approximately how long would it take a plumber to replace a regulator? 1-2 hours? Just weighing my options. I’m not necessarily the best handy man.

            • says

              Hi Boden,
              Using a pressure gauge that screws on a hosebibb would probably help you out quite a bit in correctly diagnosing what is going on. Have you read “The T&P Valve on my Water Heater is Leaking” is leaking here on 411Plumb?

              Changing out or installing a Pressure Reducing Valve and an Expansion Tank is a relatively simple task. Pretty much just cutting the line putting them in place and soldering the connections.

              Redwood

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