All About Push-Fit Plumbing Fittings and How They Work

Push-Fit fittings

Tomwsulcer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Push-fit fittings are becoming more and more readily available in home improvement centers and hardware stores, mostly because consumers find them so easy to use. Compared to solvent-gluing CPVC and PVC pipes, or sweat-soldering copper pipes with a torch, push-fit fittings are remarkably easy to use and require no particular skill and no dangerous torches or solvents. The fittings are engineered with a ring of metal spurs inside the fittings that tightly grip the pipes when they are inserted into the fitting sockets. Neoprene O-rings inside the fittings form tight, waterproof seals against the pipes. Studies have shown these to be dependable connections appropriate for any pipe unions—even those that are hidden inside finished walls and ceilings. 

When you are making joints for CPVC, PEX, or copper pipes, push-fit fittings are by far the quickest and easiest way to go. There are even irrigation PVC push-fit fittings available that can be used to make quick and easy sprinkler connections.

Push-fit fittings are manufactured under various brand names, each of which has a slightly different appearance. Sharkbite and Gatorbite are two well-known brand names. Regardless of the brand, push-fit fittings all have a similar internal structure that allows them to create a watertight seal when they are pushed onto a pipe.

Benefits of Push-Fit Fittings

  • The speed of making a connection with push-fit fittings is perhaps the biggest advantage. In an emergency, you can quickly cap or repair a pipe by simply slipping on a push-fit fitting.
  • Push-fit fittings are a great way to make pipe connections without having to solder or use clamps, unions, or glue.
  • Pipes need not be perfectly dry when using push-fit fittings. This is in contrast with CPVC and PVC, which must be bone-dry before solvent gluing; or copper pipes, which also must be dry before soldering with a torch. 
  • Push-fit fittings are available in various materials for different kinds of applications. Almost all pipe types have corresponding push-fit fittings designed for them. 
  • The product lines for push-fit fittings include many different fittings in a variety of sizes, suitable for just about any application you can imagine. 
  • Push-fit fittings are easily removed so they can be repositioned as needed. If the connection is meant as a temporary fix, the fitting can be used and then easily removed from the pipe.

Tips for Using Push-Fit Fittings

  • When using push-fit fittings, make sure there aren’t any burrs on the end of the pipe; this can damage the O-ring and compromise the watertight seal.
  • Ensure that the push-fit fittings you purchase are approved for the intended use. The package labels should tell you the accepted usage of the fittings. 
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations to ensure that your connections are watertight and safe.
  • There is a tool to designed to remove certain types of push-fit fittings. It is a good idea to have this removal tool in your tool kit even if you are planning to use push-fit fittings as a permanent repair.