Plumbing fittings are important components of any plumbing system. Without them, it would be extremely challenging connecting multiple pipes of the same or different sizes, or even regulating the flow of water round the house or required structure. There are various types of plumbing fittings. Knowing where each one goes can be a challenge for the average homeowner.
Hence, why we have this article explaining some of them, what they do and where they belong in the house. We’ll take you through the most common plumbing fittings out there.
List of Plumbing Fittings: 12 Types
Some common types of plumbing fittings are:
- Saddle tees
The Union has a male and female fitting merged to a nut, giving it a weird appearance. Unions are used to join two pipes together.
They are designed in such a way that when pipes need to be detached, this can be done easily without damaging or deforming the pipes.
Union fittings are easy to install and can be used in process piping, wastewater systems, including other industrial and municipal applications.
Because union fittings come in various shapes and type, it is important to consider this when buying one for your home.
Some of the materials used to make union fittings are cast iron, nickel, brass, bronze, plastic and rubber
A coupling is used to join pipes of the same size and diameter. They can also be used when changing pipe sizes. Such are known as reducers/ increasers
These plumbing fittings are similar to unions but unlike the latter, they can damage pipes when trying to detach them.
There are also unthread couplings. These ones are used for either copper soldering or plastic solvent welding.
We have two main types of couplings. There is the compression and the slip.
Compressions are used to connect two pipes using gaskets or rubber seals on both ends.
Slips, however, are used to repair damaged pipes.
Couplings appear in different forms. There is brass, PVC, CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), stainless steel, even ABS and chrome-plated couplings.
Elbows are basically bent couplers used for changing directions of pipe alignments, they commonly exist as 45° and 90° bends to ease the passage of liquid based on the direction, viscosity, quantity and quality of the liquid including the flow rate.
Elbows come in various materials and sizes. They can appear in steel, aluminium, rubber, brass, copper, cast iron or polymer forms.
They also exist in threaded or plain forms.
A plug is a seal like covering used to close pipe openings typically when it hasn’t been attached to other pipes or to appliances.
The aim is to prevent the entry of sediments or unwanted materials into the piping system.
Adapters are more or less couplings that have female and male ends. Male ends are protruded and threaded on the outside while female ends are threaded on the inside.
Adapters are used to connect pipes of different sizes, connect pipes of different materials and to connect pipes to plumbing appliances.
They can also be used to turn a male pipe into a female pipe and vice versa.
Though adapters can be male or female, there are straight threaded ones too. If an adapter has one of its ends unthreaded, then it has to be soldered to the pipe its being connected to.
Adapters come in handy when you need to extend your pipe runs or cut them. The leak-free types are highly pressure-resistant, making them the preferred choice for gas and water pipes. In addition, they can also be use in tubing systems.
Adapters come in various materials. They can appear in steel, aluminium, rubber, brass, copper, cast iron or polymer forms.
The nipple is one of the major components in a plumbing system. They’re small and are also used to connect pipes to home appliances such as water heaters. Nipples can likewise be used to connect two straight pipes.
Nipples are similar to adapters only they have two males ends—that is they are threaded on the outside.
Nipples come in various materials and finishing. They can appear as brass, aluminum, copper, pvc, carbon steel or stainless steel. The different types of pipe nipples include:
- Weld nipple: This is used to connect tube fittings. They’re strong and pressure resistant which makes them an ideal choices for places that experience plenty of vibrations and changes.
- Hexagon nipple: This type has two threaded ends and a hexagonal center.
- Swage nipple: This is used to move fluid from one pipe size to another.
Barrel nipple: Shaped like a hollow cylinder, the barrel is threaded on either ends, with a short unthread gap between these ends.
Close nipple: Shaped like the barrel, the close nipple has virtually no unthreaded ends.
Barbs look like the drilling bit in a hand drill. They have a male fitting at one end and a slim tapered and rigged cone at the other. Barbs are used to grip the inside of a tube and seal the connection.
How Does a Barb Work?
When a barb fitting is inserted into a tube or host, at first, it expands the tube. Later, the tube returns to its normal shape and the connection is sealed. Barb fittings are usually used in gas, air, and fluid control applications that use low pressure.
Before connecting a barb to your water pipes, you need to know this first. Plastic barbs are used for cold water applications while brass barbs are used to distribute hot water.
Before buying a barb fitting for your pipes, consider the following:
- Is the barb fitting compatible?
- Would you prefer a single barb or multi-barb
- How hard is the hose or pipe you want to insert with a barb?
- What is the inner diameter of the hose or pipe?
Cross fittings look exactly like a cross. They are a four-way hollow fitting. Cross fittings have three outlets and one inlet, which may have solvent female threaded ends or solvent-welded socket.
Because of the way they are designed, cross fittings can be a problem for pipes, especially during extreme temperature changes as they stress pipes. This is one of the reasons why they’re not as popular as tees.
It is also another reason why they are used in plumbing where expansions aren’t an issue, like fire sprinkler systems.
Cross fittings are available in brass, steel, stainless steel, PVC and malleable.
8. Saddle Tee
A saddle tee looks like a real saddle. There’s only one type of material available, that’s PVC. The saddle is to add a tee to a pipe without having to cut or resolder.
Saddle tees are attached to pipes using glues or bonds that hold them in place. If you want, you can make a hole in the pipe before inserting the saddle tee or later, after inserting the saddle tee. However, make sure if you’re doing this before, the width of the hole is not larger than that of the saddle tee.
Tees are short three-way pipe fittings with a middle 90 degree extension. We’ve two main types of tees. There’s the straight tee and the reducing tee.
Straight tees are light weight hence they greatly reduce transportation costs.
They are used with pipes that have the same size as the tee branch, and are perfect for pipes that are used to distribute small flows of liquid. Straight tees are non-toxic. They’re acid, alkali, and corrosion resistant, and have good texture performance.
A reducing tee is used where the tee branch is smaller than run pipe. They’ve excellent corrosion resistant abilities. For example the thin and strong oxide film on stainless steel tees makes them highly resistant to different water conditions.
Reducing tees have excellent physical and mechanical properties. For instance, stainless steel tees are twice as strong as galvanized pipes and three times that of copper.
Valves are devices used to control the passage of fluids through an alignment.
Shaped like the letter “Y”, wyes are designed to connect three pipes together. Wye fittings are usually used in drainage applications and are used to connect vertical drain pipes to horizontal ones. They are available in ABS, PVC and brass.
Flanges are a round plumbing fitting. They are used to connect pipes, which are either threaded or welded to the centre of the flange and then sealed together. Flanges have holes on the outside. These holes are used to hold the bolts.
Flanges are highly pressure resistant. It is for this reason they are mainly used in industrial applications. At home, flanges can be used to mount toilets to the floor.
Flanges are available in copper, malleable, PVC, and brass materials.
For emphasis on more fittings, check the video below:
Shopping for a plumbing fitting can be challenging. But, if you know the length and material and what they’re used for, you won’t have a struggle buying one or a replacement.
With our plumbing guide on fittings, you’ll feel more confident when hunting for any fitting.