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When tackling do-it-yourself plumbing jobs, knowing what pipe fittings to use is essential. This is because pipe fittings play the critical role of joining pipes together and allowing a series of pipes to change directions as needed. In most cases, a specific type of fitting is required to ensure that a series of pipes will perform correctly, so buyers will need to spend some time determining the exact types of fittings they will need before beginning a plumbing project.
There are a number of important factors buyers should consider when choosing pipe fittings. The materials used to construct a pipe fitting directly relate to how the fitting can be joined to pipes and what types of pressure the pipe assemble can handle. Pipe connections can be achieved through a number of means, but are not interchangeable. Pipe fittings are designed in a variety of shapes that permit a series of pipes to navigate around common obstacles, like walls or beams that are found in every building. Lastly, determining the correct size of a fitting can be confusing, but buyers can utilize a few tested methods to make sure they choose the proper size.
Pipe Fitting Materials
Traditionally, pipe fittings were constructed of metals and metal alloys like copper, brass, iron, and galvanized steel. Advances in plastics have allowed new materials to enter the marketplace, however, so buyers will also see pipe fittings made from plastic materials like PVC, ABS, and PEX when they are shopping.
Picking the Correct Materials
In general, it is best to use pipe fittings constructed of the same materials as the pipes that the fittings will
connect. This practice is based on the fact that different materials will react to variations in temperature and pressure in different ways. For example, cold temperatures will cause pipes to contract. The rate of the contraction, however, will vary based on the chemical composition of a material. Using the same materials allow pipes and fittings to contract at the same rate, thus ensuring that the connections between pipes remain constant.
Pipe Fitting Types
Almost all pipe fittings can be classified under two main types: pressure or drain-waste-vent (DWV) fittings. Pressure fittings are used to supply water, while DWV fittings are employed to take water and waste away from a sink, tub, or building. To maintain flow, pressure fittings are typically placed above ground and help draw water to kitchens and bathrooms. Alternatively, DWV fittings maximize gravity to draw water downwards and are often assembled to provide a gradual downward slope throughout a series of pipes.
Pipe Fitting Connections
The connection between pipes needs to remain constant and tight. To achieve this, a number of different types of pipe fitting connections have been developed over the years. Which type of connection is appropriate is largely determined by the type of pipe a plumbing job requires.
Threaded pipe fitting connections are commonly found in various pipe setups. These types of connections are easy to identify because they employ obvious grooves within a pipe fitting that correspond to the grooves available at the ends of a threaded pipe. There are two variations of threaded connections that buyers must be aware of when shopping so they can purchase the most appropriate type of fitting connection for a project.