What is a Pipe Fitting in Plumbing?

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A pipe fitting is used in plumbing to connect two pipes or tubing together, usually within the same system. There are many different types and sizes of pipe fittings, each serving a different purpose.

What are the different types of pipe fittings?

Here is a list of the different types of pipe fittings:

  • Elbow  – an elbow is a pipe fitting installed between two lengths of pipe or tubing to allow a change of direction, usually at a 90° or 45° angle.
  • Tee – a tee is a pipe fitting that joins three sections of pipe or tubing. It can be a redirecting fitting or a terminating fitting.
  • Cross – a cross is a pipe fitting that joins four sections of pipe or tubing. It has four equal-sized openings to connect four sections of pipe or tubing. It can be used to create a connection between two pieces of pipe that are not the same size.
  • Coupling – a coupling is a pipe fitting that joins two sections of pipe or tubing. It has two openings to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing.
  • Reducer – a reducer is a pipe fitting that reduces the size of a pipe or tube. It has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing of different sizes.
  • Cap  – a cap is a pipe fitting that covers the end of a pipe or tube. It has one opening to connect it to the end of a piece of pipe or tubing.
  • Union – a union is a pipe fitting that joins two sections of pipe or tubing together. It has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing.
  • Pipe Nipple – a pipe nipple is a short piece of pipe with male threads on both ends. It is used to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing together.
  • Plug – a plug is a pipe fitting that plugs the end of a pipe or tube. It has one opening to connect it to the end of a piece of pipe or tubing.
  • Valve – a valve is a device that controls the flow of fluids (liquid, gas, or solid). Valves are used to regulate the flow of fluids in pipes, tanks, and other containers. Valves are also used to control the pressure and temperature of fluids.
  • Barb – a barb is a type of pipe fitting that has a barb on one end. The barb is used to connect the fitting to a piece of pipe or tubing.
  • Bushing – a bushing is a pipe fitting that has two ends, one larger than the other. It is used to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing of different sizes.
  • Elbow Reducer – an elbow reducer is a type of pipe fitting that joins three sections of pipe or tubing. It has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing. The middle opening is smaller than the other two openings.
  • Wye – a wye is a type of pipe fitting that joins three sections of pipe or tubing. It has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing. The middle opening is larger than the other two openings.
  • Olet – an olet is a type of pipe fitting that connects two sections of pipe or tubing together. It has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing. The middle opening is smaller than the other two openings.
  • Trap – a trap is a type of pipe fitting that is used to catch fluids that are being drained from a pipe. The trap has two openings, one on each end, to connect two pieces of pipe or tubing. The middle opening is smaller than the other two openings.

Fitting connection types

Fittings will usually have a connection type. What that means is how the fitting is attached to the pipe or tubing. Here are few types of connections:

  • Threaded – a threaded connection is made by screwing a pipe or fitting onto the end of a pipe or fitting.
  • Welded – a welded connection is made by welding a pipe or fitting onto the end of a pipe or fitting.
  • Crimped – a crimped connection is made by crimping a pipe or fitting onto the end of a pipe or fitting.
  • Flanged – a flanged connection is made by attaching a flange to the end of a pipe or fitting.
  • Buttweld – a buttweld connection is made by welding a pipe or fitting it onto the end of a pipe or fitting.
  • Coupled – a coupled connection is made by attaching a coupling to the end of a pipe or fitting.

Understanding male & female pipe connections

Male pipe fittings are pipes or pipe connections with male threads. Male threads are externally threaded and can be used to connect two female threads, or they can be used to connect a female thread to a non-threaded surface.

Female pipe fittings are pipe connections or pipes with female threads. Female threads are internally threaded and can be used to connect two male threads, or they can be used to connect a male thread to a non-threaded surface.

Male fittings have a slightly smaller diameter than the female counterpart. The male connection is inserted into the female connection, which is then tightened to create a seal. These fittings are primarily used in pressurized piping systems, such as those found in homes and businesses. While male and female pipe connections are both designed to create a seal, they differ in how that seal is created. Female connections rely on a rubber washer or O-ring to create a watertight seal, while male connections use a metal-to-metal seal. Male and female pipe connections are available in a variety of sizes and materials, making them suitable for use in a wide range of applications. When selecting these fittings, be sure to choose the right size and material for the job at hand.

Application of pipe fittings

Pipe fittings are used in a variety of industries for various applications. Some of the most common industries that use pipe fittings include:

  • Oil and gas industry
  • Chemical industry
  • Power generation industry
  • Water treatment and distribution industry
  • Food and beverage industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry

How are pipe fittings measured?

Pipe fittings are usually measured by their inner diameter (ID), although some may also be specified by their outer diameter (OD). ID is the measurement of the opening at the end of the fitting, while OD is the measurement of the entire fitting. For example, a 1″ ID pipe fitting would have an inner diameter of 1 inch and an outer diameter of 1-1/4 inches. Most pipe fittings are available in a range of standard sizes, but it is also possible to have fittings custom-made to your specifications. 

Where can you buy pipe fittings?

You can buy fittings from a variety of sources, including hardware stores, plumbing supply stores, and online retailers. Be sure to select the right size and material for the job at hand. 

How to find the right type of plumbing fitting?

There are a few things to consider when selecting plumbing fittings. The first is the size of the fitting. Make sure to measure the inner and outer diameter of the pipe before selecting a fitting. The second thing to consider is the material the fitting is made from. Common materials include PVC, copper, and brass. Finally, take into account the type of connection you need. There are fittings for both threaded and soldered connections. Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you’ll be able to select the right plumbing fitting for your needs.

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