7 Types of Pipe Fittings You Should Know

Types of Pipe Fittings
Photo by Mykyta Martynenko

Pipes are essential to pass water around the building in every building construction, and fittings are necessary to avoid leakages.

However, there are many pipe fittings, and they all have different purposes. The most common pipe fitting people use in residential plumbing is the tee fitting.

Keep reading as we discuss different types of pipe fittings and their uses.

What is a Pipe Fitting?

A pipe fitting connects two pieces of piping. Several types of pipe fittings are available for connecting pipes, and they consist of various materials such as metal or plastic.

Examples include elbows, tees, couplings, reducers, unions, nipples, and valves. These devices help connect pipes to smooth the flow direction without any leaks.

Pipe fittings come in male and female threads. Male fittings join with other male fittings, while female fittings are designed to fit into other female fittings.

This allows one piece of pipe to connect to another piece of pipe. For example, you can use a union to connect two pieces of pipe.

A union has a male thread on one end and a female thread. You would then screw this onto the ends of your pipes. Moreover, these threads have a flare at the top, which gives the pipe a tight seal.

The first step to using a pipe fitting is determining which type of fitting will work best for the project. Pipe fittings are in different shapes and sizes.

For example, elbow fittings are used to join two straight pipe sections together. Tee fittings are used to connect two circles or semicircles. Couplings connect two round pipes.

Reducers are used to reduce a pipe size, and unions are used to join two pipes together. Nipples are used to attach a nipple onto a pipe, while valves control the flow of water.

Types of Pipe Fittings

There are different types of pipe fittings, with elbows, tees, and unions being the main types. Let’s take a look at each type.

Elbows

An elbow is a 90-degree bend in a pipe, and it is commonly used when you need to change the direction of the pipe. Elbows comprise copper or brass, and people refer to them as right-angle bends because they are 90-degree. Also, an elbow fitting is used for connecting two straight sections.

It has an angle at one end, connecting with another pipe fitting or fixture. We can find this fitting in commercial and residential plumbing systems.

A standard elbow fitting connects to a 90-degree elbow, a medium elbow connects to a 120-degree elbow, and a large elbow connects to a 150-degree elbow.

Standard elbows are typically made from copper, brass, stainless steel, or plastic. If you’re using them in your home, make sure you buy the right size for your project. You should also check the manufacturer’s specifications before buying any elbow.

Tee Fittings

A tee is among the types of pipe fittings, and it connects two circular or semi-circular pipes. Tees often keep the pipes connected, and the most common tee fitting is the 45-degree tee.

This type of tee fitting connects two 45-degree angles. However, there are also other types of tee fittings. One of them is the 60-degree tee, and another type is the 90-degree tee.

You might consider using a tee fitting if you’re installing a bathtub or shower stall. These fixtures require a lot of space around the tub or shower area. Therefore, you might need more than one pipe connection.

Tee fittings can be in either plastic or copper. However, copper is generally the better material since it lasts longer than plastic. However, plastic is easier to work with.

Couplings

A coupling is another pipe fitting among the types of pipe fittings used to join two round pipes together. Couplings are of three types: expansion, compression, and flange. Compression couplings are the most popular among homeowners. Expansion and flange couplings are used mainly by plumbers.

Compression couplings are used to join two round pipes together. A nut and washer combination is used to tighten the joint. When tightening this joint, make sure that the nut doesn’t over-tighten the joint. Over-tightening could cause leaks and damage to the pipe.

Expansion couplings are similar to compression couplings, but they have a larger diameter. They are used to join two non-round pipes together. Flange couplings are used to attach a pipe to a wall. They come in many sizes and shapes. 

Unions

A union is a fitting that joins two pipes together. Union fittings come in three types: slip-joint, compression, and threaded unions.

Compression unions are like couplings. Both of them are used to connect two pipes. However, they differ in their method of securing the pipes together. A coupling uses clamps to secure the pipes together. On the other hand, a compression union uses a rubber ring to hold the pipes together.

Slip joints are used to connect two straight pipes. Unlike compression fitting, this type of union doesn’t use clamps. Instead, it relies on a rubber band to secure the pipes together while allowing some movement.

Threaded unions are used to connect two pieces of equipment. For example, a threaded union is used to join a water supply line to a faucet.

Threaded unions come in various sizes and styles. Some of them have a male thread, while others have female threads. Ensure to choose the correct size based on the diameter of your pipes.

Reducer Fittings

Among the types of pipe fittings, reducers are useful in reducing the pressure of a high-pressure pipe. There are two types of reducers; eccentric and concentric reducers. People use the eccentric reducer when the pipe is reduced and is larger than the reducer. On the other hand, concentric reducers are used when reducing smaller-sized pipes.

Eccentric reducers are usually made out of cast iron or carbon steel. They can withstand high pressures and higher temperatures, making them ideal for residential plumbing projects.

However, a concentric reducer usually comprises aluminum or plastic. They are less expensive than eccentric reducers. However, they are not as durable.

Cross Fittings

A cross fitting is another type of pipe fitting that connects two different pipes. It connects hot and cold water supply lines. It would help if you used a cross fitting to install a new kitchen sink.

The most common type of cross fitting is a “Y” fitting. It consists of two 45-degree elbows connected by a short piece of tubing.

Another type of cross fitting is the “X” fitting. It has two 90-degree elbows connected by two lengths of tubing.

Wyes

A wye is among the different types of pipe fittings. This fitting joins two pipes together at right angles. It also connects the main supply line with several branch lines. Wyes consist of copper and PVC piping materials.

They are typically installed using a special tool. If you don’t have one, you can use a hacksaw blade to cut off a section of pipe and then bend the pipe into shape.

Conclusion

Fittings connect pipes. They allow us to control the flow of water through our homes. Without fittings, we would have a lot of leaks in our home. There are several types of pipe fittings, and each type performs a specific function. When choosing a fitting, you should first determine what kind of job you’ll do. Then, it would help if you looked for a fitting that will help you complete that task.

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