What installers should consider when choosing the right pipe fitting for the job

As any professional installer will know, there is no shortage of pipe fittings options available on the market. Anthony Chapman – Senior Category Manager for Plumbing at Graham Plumbers’ Merchant –  discusses the factors that should be considered when selecting the right product for a particular application.
With compression, push-fit and press-fit devices available alongside the more conventional end-feed and solder ring solutions, the range of pipe fittings on the market today provides installers with real flexibility in terms of materials, installation method and aesthetics.
While breadth of choice is ideal, installer preference is often a key part of the product selection process. However, to ensure that the pipe fitting is fit for purpose, there are other important factors to consider.
Hot or cold
Traditional methods of connecting pipe runs such as soldering and brazing have long been the preferred method for many in the industry – with the permanence of the joint and the tried-and-tested nature of the process considered important advantages. However, this method can also be far more time consuming than compression, push-fit or press-fit alternatives.
Additionally, in some cases, soldering may not be possible either because of the fire risk of using an open flame or potential damage to areas around the pipe – for example, where a pipe runs against a tiled surface. While more expensive than end-feed or solder ring options, these ‘cold’ products do not require an open flame and as such there is no need for a hot works permit or extra insurance.
Demountable products
Another key consideration when selecting fittings is whether the application requires a demountable solution. The vast majority of compression and push fittings can be removed if necessary – without damage to the pipe or fitting and allowing them to be reused. This ensures quicker and easier maintenance, reduces the level of waste and saves time if a correction has to be made. It also makes it possible to create instant fixes or temporary pipework without wasting the pipe or fittings.
While the use of demountable fittings is generally a matter of preference there are situations where a removable device is not appropriate. For example,in social housing or rented accommodation landlords may prefer fittings that are permanent to discourage residents from attempting to fix a plumbing issue themselves.
Location, location, location
Another issue that may affect the choice of pipe fitting is the location. Exposed pipework has become an increasingly popular choice in recent years. If the design includes pipework that is on display, soldered joints may not be desirable and so an alternative is required. Press fittings or metal push fittings can achieve a superior look in keeping with the design, and provide the added benefit of a quick and simple installation process.
Furthermore, every installer encounters jobs where space is limited and selecting the right fittings can save a significant amount of time and effort. For example, soldering a joint correctly may not be possible where the entire surface of the pipe is not accessible. In these situations, press fittings can be used as it only requires enough space to place the compression jaws around the pipe Where space is very limited, push fittings can provide the best solution.
When selecting parts for a job, it’s important to consider whether the pipework being fitted will carry drinking water. If so, the pipe and fittings should be Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS) approved. This certifies that the product does not contain materials that will contaminate the water. The WRAS standard also ensures that the product does not cause ‘waste, misuse or undue consumption’ of water.
Think quality
As with all materials, the price is always going to be important, and while it may be tempting to reduce costs by purchasing cheaper alternatives, this may prove to be costly in the long term. The initial cost saving has to be balanced against the potential cost of call-backs and remedial work or even repairing water damage if the pipe leaks.
Selecting a high-quality product will not only give peace of mind but also ensure that customers are satisfied and
happy to recommend the company’s services.
Purchasing products from a reputable merchant is also important not just to ensure that the items bought are of the highest quality but also to gain advice and support to help select the right product for the job.
There is no one pipe fitting solution that is right for all applications so having a range of options will give installers the flexibility to select the best option for the job in hand. Products that are quicker and easier to install can help businesses work more efficiently, take on a greater variety of work and provide a better service to customers.