Types of Pipe Fittings and Their Uses

Pipe parts

To an uneducated homeowner, pipe fittings are as numerous and confusing as choosing the right screw or nail for a construction project. The materials vary and the specific purpose, although precise, seems daunting to figure out. Here is a brief overview of pipe fittings, their purpose, and the materials offered.

Obviously, pipe fittings are attached to the end of pipes that allow it to change direction, control the flow, and change the diameter of the pipe. Being a non-trivial part of plumbing and piping systems, consulting us with your need is definitely advised to save yourself time, money, materials, and headaches.

  • Elbows: Used to change the angle or direction of the pipe run. Most commonly in 90 degrees and 45 degree turns. The sweep of the fitting describes how fast a transition or change in direction is made.
  • Street Elbows: One end of the pipe fitting has male threads and the other end has female threads. These are common in galvanized steel and copper pipe. They are convenient because they do away with the need for a nipple and work well in tight quarters.
  • Tee Fittings: Shaped like the letter T. Allows for branch lines.
  • Couplings: Used to join two straight pieces of pipe of the same diameter.
  • Reducers: Used to join pipe of different diameters. Makes a gradual change in diameter.
  • Bushings: Used to make the diameter of a pipe fitting smaller. They are different from reducers because they make an abrupt change in diameter and take little space.
  • Unions: Used to join pieces of pipe where pipes cannot be turned or when a piece of equipment may have to be removed for maintenance or replacement.
  • Adaptor Fittings: Used to change the end of a non-threaded pipe to male or female threads as needed. Most commonly used in copper and plastic plumbing jobs.
  • Caps: Used to close the end of a dead-end pipe.
  • Plugs: Used to close an ending on a pipe fitting normally used for inspection or cleanout.
  • Nipples: Short lengths of pipe threaded at both ends.
  • Wyes: Used primarily to gain inside access to DWV (drain-waste-vent) systems.
  • Valves: Devices that control the flow of liquid or gas through or from a pipe. (Compression valves, ball valves, sleeve-cartridge valves, ceramic disc valves, etc)
  • PVC Fittings: Come in a wide variety of configurations and may be glued (S) or threaded (T)
  • Copper Tubing Fittings: Use compression fittings. Common fittings are couplings, ells, and tees.

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