When something goes wrong with the plumbing, the key is finding the weak link or improper pipe fitting in the construction. Each pipe fitting has a specific job and must be able to handle the demands. Some must be able to withstand intense amounts of heat and pressure. Some must be water-tight while others must be air-tight. Pipe fittings must be compact, flexible, and sturdy enough to handle specific circumstances. The success of a project begins by selecting the right pipe fittings for the job.
Types of Pipe Fittings
Adapters and Bushings
An adapter creates a direct connection between two pipes of different diameters. Using a pipe fitting of this type cuts out a lengthy and complex process of attaching two dissimilar pipes. While an adapter has two male sides, a bushing has one male and one female side. In some cases, such as when two uncommon pipe varieties must be connected, an adapter or bushing must be custom-made. Adapters and bushings are equipped to handle high pressure, but their cousins, the coupling and the nipple, are not.
Caps and Plugs
To put it simply, a plug has threading and a cap does not. To stop low pressure water, a simple cap will do the trick. When the pressure is exceedingly high, such as inside a fire extinguisher, a sturdy plug must be screwed on tightly. It takes special equipment to remove a high pressure plug. Caps, on the other hand, may be glued or soldered permanently in order to prevent access.
To avoid putting the pipes under unnecessary pressure, plumbing is built with straight lines of pipe. Any corner or angles are handled with an aptly named pipe fitting called the elbow. The most common elbow angles are 45 and 90 degrees, but they can be custom made to fit any situation. They can be screwed into place or glued to the adjacent pipes.
Tees and Crosses
A tee or cross is any pipe fitting with more than two openings. A tee has 3 openings while a cross has 4. Both are used to facilitate a great variety of plumbing challenges. For example, water may come into a house in one pipe then split apart when it hits a tee. One pipe heads to the water heater while the other splits off around the house. Some tees and crosses have faucets attached so that water can pass through when the faucet is on but is blocked off when the faucet is off. There is no pump attached to the faucet, so the water pressure must be strong enough to force water up the pipe but not strong enough to break the plumbing.
A healthy pipe system is built with the right pieces. Whether the pipes are carrying hot gasses or high-pressure water, the demands can be very different. Each pipe fitting must be able to handle the challenges. When selecting a pipe fitting, the question is not just what it needs to be shaped like but what it needs to be able to handle.