Pipe fittings are an essential element of industrial and residential plumbing. Pipe fittings connect sections of pipes and ensure the proper installation of pipeline systems. Fittings can connect straight sections of pipes, change the direction of pipes or the end of a pipe. There are thousands of specialized pipe fittings available to meet the requirements of various pipe types, materials and applications; but most fittings share some common characteristics.
• Pipe Fittings Materials
Pipe fittings should always be made of the same material as the pipes being connected.
Pipes are manufactured from a variety of materials such as copper, aluminum, steel and iron. Some types of pipes are better suited to certain applications than others. Pipe fittings should always be made of the same material as the pipes being connected.
Elbows are pipe fittings that change the direction of a pipe. Elbows are typically manufactured with a 45-degree or 90-degree elbow, but custom elbow fittings are also available. Commonly used in industrial or pressurized applications, the connectors of an elbow fitting may be either threaded or machined for welding. Elbow fittings with one end smaller than the other function as reducers, connecting pipes of different sizes.
Reducers connect pipes of different sizes. They are available in concentric or eccentric. One connecting end of the reducer is larger than the other. Pipe reducers often have male threads on one end and female threads on the other. Reducers come in a wide variety of materials, sizes and types, designed to suit specific applications.
Tee fittings connect three sections of pipe. The tee fitting has one connection at 90 degrees to the other two connections. Used to connect pipelines running at right angles to each other, the tee fitting has three female connections. The tee fitting is also available in a reducing version with two openings the same size and one opening a different size.
• Cross fittings
Cross fittings are used to combine or split pipe or tube sections. Cross fittings have one input and three outputs (or vice versa) that intersect at 90 degree angles. All three designs come in standard designs (in which all outlets/inlets are the same diameter) and reducing designs (in which one or more is a different size).
• Couplings/ Unions
Couplings and unions are pipe fittings used to extend the run of a pipe section by connecting it with another section. A coupling is a more permanent connection using soldering, solvent welding. A union is a nut with a male and female end that screw into corresponding pipe sections. The union allows pipes to be disconnected quickly and easily
• Caps and Plugs
Caps and plugs perform basically the same function but in different ways. A cap, as its name suggests, is a cap that goes over the end of a pipe, creating a dead end. Plugs also stop up a pipe or tube system, but are plugged, like a stopper, into the end of the pipe.