Dan has been in the HVAC industry for 23 years, with experience ranging from installation and service to sales and distribution.
Frozen Pipes Causing You Stress?
Enter Old Man Winter...and all that comes with him. For instance, broken water lines that are now making a pool out of your basement.
You need to get that fixed and fast! Can't afford a plumber? Well, you've come to the right place.
I'm going to show you how to fix your leak, or even add in a new water line, without any torches or high-cost specialty tools at all. No experience required. You can fix that leak and move on with getting your life back in order. Whether it's copper, cpvc or "pex", push fittings (a.k.a. "SharkBites") have made it simple to complete nearly any repair or improvement needed to your water piping system.
Come on. I'll show you.
Installing a Push Fitting
How to Install a "SharkBite" Fitting
Using a push fitting couldn't be simpler. The name says it all. Just "push" the push fitting onto the pipe you are connecting to. You should feel it sort of click or grab the pipe twice once it's on all the way. Of course, make sure the end of the pipe is round and smooth to ensure a good fit, but it doesn't even have to be dry!
Consider keeping an assortment of SharkBite fittings on hand, like the one pictured below, so that you can quickly repair any issue as it comes along.
How to Cut Pipe (Video)
Tools for Cutting Pipes
How to Cut Water Lines Properly
Though this article is simple to follow and easy to understand, there are a couple of things we need to be sure you do properly to avoid further complications. One of these things is cutting the pipe. It sounds simple, and it is, but if it isn't done properly it can throw a wrench into the whole process.
- Plastic Pipes: For plastic pipes like cpvc and what is commonly called Pex, or flexible water line, all you need is a plastic tubing cutter. (See photo) Much like scissors, simply place the cutters around the pipe and apply a bit of pressure while rocking them back and forth on the pipe. Once you've cut through the surface a bit, just squeeze and your pipe will be cut.
- Copper Pipes: Copper pipes are easy to cut too but one thing you need to keep in mind is if you rush this cut, you'll oval out the pipe and your new fitting won't work. Cutting copper requires a "copper tubing cutter" that you place on the piping. Snug it down and rotate the cutter all the way around the pipe 3 or 4 times. Now, snug it down a little more and repeat this process until the cutter severs the pipe all the way around leaving a nice clean edge for your new push fitting. Over-tightening the cutter is what will cause the pipe to oval. Just take your time.
Is there a plumber in you?
Quick Step Guide to Repairing A Water Leak Using Push Fittings
- Locate the leak
- Shut off the water to that section or the whole house if you must
- Head to the hardware store to pick up what you need
- Cut out the bad section of piping
- Sand the ends of the pipe connections so they are smooth for your new fitting
- Push your new fittings onto the pipe ends
- Insert your "repair" section of piping between your push fittings
- Turn the water back on to make sure your fittings are on properly and not leaking
- Get that mess cleaned up!
Add Valves to Your Plumbing
It's nice to be able to isolate plumbing sections by using valves to different areas of the home so they can still be used while making repairs now or in the future. Now might be a good time to install a few if you don't already have them. Your water is already off and you'll be cutting into the line anyway, so consider this if you can afford the extra few dollars worth of parts.
You'll most likely need this SharkBite valve to get the job done (pictured below). It works with both copper and plastic piping and features a brass ball valve that can handle extreme temperatures and up to 200 PSI. So it's plenty strong and should last an extremely long time.
New Water Valves
Sizing Up Your Water Line Repair
The first thing we need to do is figure out what materials and tools you'll need to perform this plumbing repair. By now, you likely know where your leak is and have shut off the water supply to that area. If not, this is the first thing you need to do. Shut it off at the nearest valve ahead of the leak or at the main or meter if need be.
For our example, we're going to say our leak is a burst in a straight piece of piping that's a 1/2" in diameter since this is the most common type of application of size and location. This same process can also be used, though for breaks in elbows and other such fittings, as well as various pipe diameters. (The most common being 1/2", 3/4" and 1" in households and available part sizes at the hardware store.) Lastly, let's say the burst is approximately 2" long. A good-sized break and perfect for our example.
What You Need to Repair Your Water Line With Push Fittings
|Tools||Parts For Break In Straight Pipe||Parts for Break At An Elbow|
2 - Push Fit Couplings (Properly Sized)
2 - Push Fit Couplings (Properly sized)
Sand Cloth / Paper
12" or longer piece of piping (Properly Sized and Type)
1 - Push Fit Elbow (90 - Properly Sized)
PUSH FIT REMOVAL TOOL
12" or longer piece of piping (Properly Sized and Type)
How Much Pipe to Cut Away
Remember that your new push fitting needs something to connect to. Though different brands of fitting may be different lengths, they all typically need a 1/2" to grab onto.
Turning the Water Back On, Test Your Repair
When you shut off the water and opened the lines, you allowed air into them. Once the repair is made, turn on a faucet or other fixture so that when you turn the water back on, the air can escape as the lines pressurize. Then, shut the fixture back off so that you get a true pressure in the line to test your repair's success.
Making the Repair
This is the easy part now that we have everything we need. We don't even have to wait for the line to dry! Just follow these easy steps:
- Cutaway the bad section of pipe (see side note)
- Make sure the cut is clean meaning there are no burrs and the outer surface of the pipe is smooth for a good connection. Sand down the pipe where the connection is to be made if needed.
- Install your push fittings at each end of the connection
- Install your new piece of pipe
- Test (see side note)
I know it seems like something might be missing but it's not. I've used these fittings on many occasions and the ease of use far outweighs the few additional dollars that the parts cost. I can also say that first-hand experience has shown me that after 10 years of use, the part still acts and looks as if it were brand new.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope I was able to provide you with some useful knowledge for this unfortunate situation. Hopefully you won't need it!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the other term or local name for push fitting/sharkbite?
Answer: Gator Bites is one. I also know Legend makes one and Lowes has a brand...there are a lot of brands and names that I'm sure I don't know.
Question: If SharkBites won't work on galvanized, what will?
Answer: Only other iron pipe type fitting will work there. However, push fitting manufacturers do make male and female adapters. These screw onto the galvanized and then you can switch to copper, cpvc, or pex from there.
Question: Weak plastic pipe coupling is cracking near the main shut off valve. What do I do?
Answer: I hope you didn't shut your main off. I don't believe I've ever seen a water main shut off with plastic piping attached. Either way if you have a crack then that section has to be replaced...hopefully with something up to code. There are products on the market that are a sort of tape that can "slow the bleeding" but are not permanent fixes.
Question: How do I remove push fitting from my pipe if it leaks?
Answer: All the push fit brands have a removal tool you can buy for around a $1-$2. You just slide it over the pipe then press against the end of the fitting to remove it.
Question: Will SharkBites work on galvanized, or cast iron?
© 2014 Dan Reed
Jay on January 07, 2018:
Will shark bites work on galvanised, or cast iron?
JD on January 06, 2018:
Thank you!! Well we are doing what you said right now! We have a leak!
Lisa on February 23, 2014:
Dan Reed (author) on February 06, 2014:
Thanks lindacee! I hope so. It really is as easy as it seems. As always with my Hubs...Thank you for reading and I hope you never have to use it!
Linda Chechar from Arizona on February 06, 2014:
I've never been one to tackle plumbing issues, but your Hub has given me the confidence that I might actually be able to repair a leaking pipe with a push fitting. Hope it never comes to it, but just in case I will keep your helpful Hub handy if the need arises! Voted up, useful and interesting.