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How to Install and Remove SharkBite Fittings

Plumbing can be a daunting task, whether it is the repair or installation of a new pipe system. While traditional methods are tested and approved, they remain intimidating to most DIYers with no plumbing skills. With traditional methods comes different tools. Crimpers are pricey and difficult to use in cramped areas, while adhesives are quite messy and smelly. At the same time, solders include open fires that are hazardous.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to escape all this trouble. With SharkBite fittings, both homeowners and professionals are assured of fast and reliable watertight sealings within seconds. You only need a few basic tools to replace, repair, or even install SharkBite fittings leaving no mess behind. Sounds good? Read on to find more about SharkBite fittings, how to use them best, and even how to remove SharkBite fittings with or without specialized tools.

So, What Are SharkBite Fittings?

With all these big talks about SharkBite fittings, you may be wondering what they really are anyway. First, SharkBite fittings are the push-to-connect type of water pipe fittings. Before the introduction of the push-to-connect fittings in the US, this type of plumbing system was not popular as they are today. However, since Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC) introduced them in the US market nearly 20 years ago, some brands have become more successful than others. Some customers even refer to other brands as SharkBite.

Before the invention of the push-to-connect fittings, the traditional methods worked in most cases but with limitations. For instance, working in tight spaces or transitioning between different types of pipes was a hassle. SharkBite fittings address such issues since they work with varying water pipes, including HDPE, PEX, PE-RT, CPVC, and even copper. Besides, you don’t require soldering, crimps, or any other tool to install them, making them suitable for tight spaces.

These push-to-connect fittings come in different sizes ranging from ¼ inch to 2 inches in diameter. This makes them ideal for both commercial and personal projects. SharkBite fittings are intended to work smart and not hard. The innovative design allows anyone to make watertight connections within seconds.

How It Works

What makes SharkBite fittings superior comes down to its design and components. The unique connection system allows the reuse of the fittings and saves time by reducing the installation time. So, what makes it so secure? A push to connect fitting is only as good as its body material and parts. Here are some of its internal elements to help you understand how SharkBite works.

Usually, all push fits comprise three basic components; a collet with a ring of teeth, O-rings, and a locking mechanism. SharkBite fittings are constructed of brass material that makes them durable and corrosion-free. Furthermore, the design complies with NSF/ANSI 372, ASSE 1061, and NSF/ANSI 61 specifications.

Release Collar

When a pipe is inserted inside a fitting, it passes through the release collar that prevents accidental release. You can only realign or remove the tube with disconnect tongs or clips.

Grab Ring

The pipe then goes through a stainless grab ring with teeth. You can only push the line through but not pull out. The teeth bites and grips down tightly onto the pipe, thereby ensuring a secure seal without any need for tools.

O-Ring and Protector

Once the pipe aligns with the protector part, it goes through the O-ring, which compresses the tube between the walls of the fittings. This prevents water from going past it. Furthermore, the O-ring is made from a durable material that is corrosion-resistant from substances like chlorine.

Tube Stop

A secure connection is achieved when the pipe gets to the tube stop.

PEX Stiffener

This part keeps the O-rings tightly sealed outside the tube when using HDPE, PEX, or PE-RT tubing.

Where to Use SharkBite Fittings

SharkBite fittings are usually used in household plumbing systems. Its design allows ease of use through simple maneuvers. Thanks to the product’s compatibility with different plumbing tubes, you can use them on your existing plumbing. This makes these push-to-connect fittings suitable for repairing leaks, replacing copper fittings, or installing new plumbing systems.

SharkBite fittings are commonly used to install radiant heat systems due to their resistance to high temperatures. Although they are ideal for installing potable water lines, SharkBite fittings are not intended for use with any other substance like gas or oil. With regular use, SharkBite fittings can last up to 25 years. Besides, it is an easy process to replace the parts when the time comes. These push-to-connect fittings include couplings, elbows, ball valves, tees, threaded connectors, and unions.

Using SharkBite fittings underground or behind walls can be risky. There is no definite way of knowing when a leakage starts. However, with some extra preparations, you can use these fittings for such applications. For underground usage, wrapping the fittings with an impermeable material protects the connection from contaminants. For behind-the-wall applications, having an access panel makes it easy to fix a problem should any arise.


How to install SharkBite fittings

Now that you understand how push-to-connect technology works and where to use it, let’s look at how to use it. What is the installation process of SharkBite fittings? Connecting these fittings is quite simple, involving only three major steps; cut, push, done. The method of assembly is quite similar regardless of the pipe material or size. More so, it is designed to provide a fast and long-lasting connection if carried correctly.

Although you do not require any special tools, having a gauge and deburring tools comes in handy when measuring pipe and deburring.

  • Cut

First, inspect the pipe for any deformations and remove all adhesive labels that may cause leakage issues later. Proceed to use a pipe cutter to cut the line and then deburr to remove any sharp edges and burrs. It is advisable to never use a hacksaw during the cutting process. Deburring prevents damage to the O-ring when pushing in the pipe. For polybutylene or PEX, use pipe cutters to cut the line, then insert the manufacturer’s tube liner. Again, check for any cracks and remove any obstructions from the end of the pipe.

Next, use a disconnecting clip or tape measure and mark one inch up from the cut end. It is the insertion depth of the pipe and will allow you to assemble the fitting properly. You can also check on the packaging to ensure that you mark accordingly.

  • Push

This is the easy part. Hold the SharkBite fitting and gently push the pipe through it with a slight twist. Once it touches the pipe stop, you will hear a click sound from the fitting.

  • Done

Check for the mark you made earlier to ensure that the pipe is well inserted for a secure connection. Once done, turn on the water supply and observe for leaks on the joint. Following these steps as instructed guarantees a durable and reliable seal.

How to Remove SharkBite Fittings

But what happens when there is a leakage or if you want to replace the push-to-connect fittings? Like every other aspect of SharkBite fittings designed for ease of use, the disconnecting process is simple and straightforward. However, they are made to provide permanent connection and should not be disconnected and assembled repeatedly.

There are two methods of removing SharkBite fittings, including using special tools and without. Besides, the size of the fittings also determines the type of tools to use.

Disconnecting A Size 10mm -28mm SharkBite Fitting

With sizes ranging from 10mm to 28mm, you can use two ways to remove the pipe from the fitting. It involves using a specialized disconnecting clip that is made from durable plastic. Its lightweight and compact design make it suitable for use in tight areas.

With a disconnecting clip, you need to place the tool around the pipe. Just ensure to position it in a way that the SharkBite logo faces away from the fitting. Compress the clip against the ring to release the gripping teeth from the pipe. At the same time, pull the tube while twisting it. Alternatively, you can use disconnecting tongs to squeeze around the fitting while pulling the pipe away.

Disconnecting Size 35mm -54mm

For these large sizes, the Sharkshifter tool is the way to go. All you do is place the device on the fitting and twist it clockwise to unlock the grab ring. Proceed to use both hands to pull out the pipe.

Final Remarks

When it comes to removing SharkBite fittings, there are several ways to do it. The important aspect is to understand how the push-to-connect mechanism works. From there, you will know how to manipulate the locking system to release the pipe without causing any damage to the piping system or SharkBite fittings. So, basically, the release collar should be pushed in for the stainless-steel teeth to release the pipe.

Some ways of removing the SharkBite fittings in case of emergency include; using an adjustable wrench, pipe clip, hose clamp, or bicycle wrench. You can also use a chord to push in the release collar if the fitting is too close to the wall making it impossible to fit a tool.