Copper Press Fittings: When And Where You Might Use Them

For years installing plumbing meant brazing, welding, or gluing fittings on to the pipe. The process took some preparation and could be time-consuming and messy. In recent years a new way to join fittings has emerged, and press fittings are becoming more common in both residential and commercial plumbing projects. 

What is a Copper Press Fitting?

Copper press fittings are plumbing fittings that use a design that allows the application of pressure on the fitting to compress it around the pipe it joins. A press or crimping tool puts the right amount of pressure on the fitting to secure it without crushing the fitting or the pipe. When the connection is correct, it is very strong and will outlast many other kinds of connections. 

The fittings are available from many of the large home centers and come in different sizes and configurations. Many of the most common sizes and shapes of connectors allow you to run pipes the same way as you would with traditional plumbing but in less time and without the mess of soldering or gluing connections. 

Safety Benefits of Press Fittings

One of the best reasons to consider press fittings over traditional fittings is the safety benefits that they offer. Because there is no soldering when using these fittings, the risk of fire when using a torch to heat and solder joints is no longer a concern. Solder joints can spatter as the flux heats up, and the potential for a small spark to ignite some dust the wood studs in the wall of the building is a very real concern. 

Soldering also produces some fumes, so when working in small spaces, there is a risk to whoever is doing the work. While most plumbing work happens while the walls are open during construction, remodeling, or additional work after the building is complete can present a higher risk.

If you are using plastic pipe and fittings, the glue and cleaner that connects the pipes to the fittings also produce fumes that can be dangerous in closed spaces.  

Press fittings install with a tool that applies pressure to the fitting, eliminating both the fire hazard and the risk of exposure to fumes during soldering or gluing. 

Press Fitting Tools

If you are going to use press fittings on your project, you will need to get a high-quality press tool to make the connections. You can choose power or manual tools, but the power options are faster and more efficient if you have a large job to do. 

The cost of these tools can be high, but if you get a good one, it will last for years and is a good investment, especially if you intend to use it for more than one project.