Installing push-fit fittings in your plumbing is not as challenging as most people think. Once you’ve prepared the pipe for the plumbing fitting, you’ll find it easy to make the connection. Cut, clean, and mark the pipe for a specific fitting depth.
Next, you’ll push the plumbing fitting over the pipe to get a permanent connection that is still removable. It’s quite easy to work with these fittings. They create an almost foolproof connection.
If you want a plumbing connection to be leak-free, then ensure the pipe end is cut smoothly and squarely, smoothened on the exterior, and the pipe or fitting is pushed to the farthest point possible.
The Basics of Push-Fit Fittings
Push-fit plumbing fittings are also known as push fittings or push-on fittings. They’re specially made for use on PEX, CPVC, and rigid copper water pipes.
Some fittings are smaller and specially made for use in plastic tubing used with ice makers, aquariums, and water filters.
These fittings are not usable with any galvanized steel pipes. Most of them are also not usable with soft or flexible copper tubing.
All types plumbing fittings have their ideal push-fit fittings, including repair couplings, the hookup hoses used in water heaters, hose bibs, tees, elbows, shutoff valves, and unions.
Most plumbing regulations allow for use of these fittings within ceiling cavities or walls. Some types of fittings are buried underground upon being wrapped in tape.
If you’re planning to use these fittings for huge projects, expect the project to be costly since they’re not cheap. Moreover, check with your local construction department for any restrictions on using the fittings in a huge project.
Push-fit fittings work by gripping the pipe being fixed with their ring. The ring usually has some teeth made of steel. The fitting also has one or several O-rings within it that create a tight seal around a pipe.
In case the pipe isn’t rounded perfectly or its edges are rough or it’s covered with gunk, then the provided O-rings might fail to make a tight seal, thereby causing leaks.
Also, in case the pipe hasn’t been cut squarely and smoothly, then it will fail to fit around the fitting evenly, or it might extend beyond the necessary depth within the fitting.
All these issues will lead to an imperfect seal. As such, it’s advisable to only use a tubing cutting tool to cut through the pipe rather than using a saw.
Supplies and Tools Needed
- Push-fit fitting
- Tubing cutter
- Utility knife (if necessary)
- Emery cloth (if necessary)
- Deburring tool (depth-gauge type)
Installing the Push-Fit Fitting in Your Plumbing
Step 1- Cutting the pipe
Start with cutting the tubing or pipe as per the needed length. Use the right tubing cutter tool for specific pipe material. For instance, if you’re cutting a copper pipe, then use a tubing cutting for copper.
If you’re working with CPVC pipe, then use a plastic-based tubing cutting tool. For PEX, use a PEX cutting tool. When taking measurements for cutting the pipe, remember the pipe may extend around 1-inch within the fitting. Thus, keep that in mind when cutting the pipe.
Step 2- Reaming and deburring the pipe
Next, ream the end of a copper pipe. Also deburr it. Use the reaming and deburring tool when removing the jagged and sharp edges that may remain behind after cutting the pipe. The tool will ream the pipe from within and deburr from the outside simultaneously.
Alternatively, ream the pipe using the reaming tool’s backside. Also, use a sandpaper or emery cloth (fine-grit type) to gently deburr the exterior edge. However, you should only sand the edge. Avoid sanding the pipe’s wall surface.
PEX tubing and CPVC pipes don’t have to be deburred or reamed. However, in case the CPVC piping has some kind of a ridge around the interior edge, then you can use fine sandpaper, emery cloth, or utility knife to ream the inner edge carefully.
Once done, remove any debris from within the pipe. Then use a clean piece of cloth or rag to wipe the surface of the tubing or pipe.
Useful tips: You can find some push-on fitting manufacturers who sell deburring tools of different sizes. These tools work as reaming and deburring tools while still working as effective marking tools for marking the fitting’s depth.
Step 3- Marking the Pipe
Take a marker and the deburring tool (depth-gauge option) to mark the tubing or pipe. The marking should indicate the fitting’s full depth. Slide the gauge tool over the pipe end until you feel it has stopped. Next, mark a smooth line with the marker along the tool’s edge.
In case you don’t have the gauge tool, then use any tape measure to take measurements from the pipe end. Use a marker to mark the tubing or pipe as per the depth specified by the manufacturer for that specific fitting. Doing so will allow for a perfect fit.
Step 4- Installing the Fitting
Now push the push-in fitting over the pipe end. Alternatively, push the tubing or pipe into the plumbing fitting until it stops going any further.
The ending of the push-on fitting needs proper alignment as per the marking you made for the pipe depth.
Once it’s aligned with the marking, it will indicate that the piping or tubing is fully inserted into the push-on fitting. Upon installing the fitting, you may rotate the push-on fitting or pipe 360 degrees as needed.
Tips: Most fittings come with a PEX stiffener or bushing within them for stabilizing the ending of a PEX tubing.
Some fittings don’t have one, so you’d have to buy a separate bushing and include it before installation. Inbuilt bushings don’t have to be detached when using CPVC or copper pipe.
You can remove the pipe/tubing, or fitting after installation as needed by using a push-on removal tool. This tool has a small clip that is shaped like a horseshow.
The tool fits around the pipe. You’ll simply press the removal tool over the section around which the pipe meets the push-on fitting.
Next, pull the pipe outward. In case you’re removing a push-on fitting from a PEX tubing, you’ll need to cut it afresh before you reinstall it. A fresh, one-inch cut at the end of the pipe will be enough.