Pipe Fittings FAQ – The Basics Covered

For anyone approaching the subject of pipe fittings for the very first time, it can all seem a bit like a foreign language. And that’s because in many respects it is indeed that – a foreign world filled with all manner of weird and wonderful components that don’t mean a great deal to the newbie at all.

There are so many industry areas these days where quality pipe fittings are of paramount importance, which in turn makes it the job of those buying and fitting such parts to ensure their appropriateness and quality. Even in the example of something as comparatively simple as a home plumbing system, it takes little more than a faulty or substandard plug or fitting to lead to a drip, a leak or full-blown flood of epic proportions. As for industrial applications, the whole subject takes much greater significance and the risks associated with dodgy components increase in severity exponentially.

What follows is a brief summary of some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of pipe fittings from the perspective of a newcomer to the subject. The key to making the right choices and going about competent jobs is of course to understand what you’re working with – the following therefore could be of some help:

Pipe Fitting

Pipe fittings have particular terminology.

1 – What Does the Term ‘Pipe Fittings’ Actually Refer to?

In the simplest of terms possible, a pipe fitting is the component used to connect any two or more pipes together. They are among the most essential components for pretty much any plumbing system of any size across domestic and industrial environments alike. They can be manufactured in all manner of different materials, sizes, and created in a wide variety of shapes. Some of the products that come under the pipe fittings header include tees, elbows, sleeves, reducers, valves, flanges and so many more.

2 – What Are the Distinguishing Characteristics of Different Pipe Fittings?

Among the features that distinguish different types of pipe fittings from others are the material they’re made of, the diameter of the pipe’s inner and outer and the way in which they fit to the pipes they are to connect – male/female thread or slip.

3 – What Are Elbows?

An elbow pipe fitting is the type that also includes a section of pipe which is bent to 90 degrees. These pipe fittings make it possible to connect pipes at angles of 90 degrees.

4 – What Does the Term Outside Diameter Represent?

The term Outside Diameter – often abbreviated to OD – refers to the thickness of the wall and will be determined by the party ordering the pipe fitting. The OD can vary quite significantly depending on the specification and purpose of the fitting.

5 – If There is a Line Visible in the Pipe Fitting, Does This Mean It is Faulty?

It’s common to see a line in a pipe fitting and assume it’s cracked, but this usually isn’t the case at all. Instead, it’s usually the ‘knit-line’ which forms as part of the molding process itself and does not in any way represent a fault. If you’re unsure whether it’s a crack or a knit-line, apply pressure to the area and see if it opens up or closes.

Faulty Pipe Fitting

A faulty pipe fitting can be dangerous

6 – What Do the Different Connector Types Mean?

Pipe fittings are categorized as male or female depending on their connector types, though there are in total four standard categories to be aware of, which are:

  • Female Threaded – Fittings that have an internal screw thread and are larger than the pipe that will fit inside them.
  • Male Threaded – Also present an internal screw thread, though in this case the fitting goes inside the pipe, rather than the other way around.
  • Female Slip – Larger than the pipe, which slips inside the fitting without the use of any screw thread.
  • Male Slip – The fitting type that connects to the inside of the pipe and again doesn’t use a screw thread.

7 – What Are The Most Important Things to Consider when Buying Pipe Fittings?

In accordance with the job to be undertaken, you must be aware of the precise size, shape, design, material, pressure rating, temperature durability and overall quality of the fittings to be chosen.

8 – What Does Flange Relate To?

In the world of pipe fittings, a component in the shape of a ring or plate that’s used on the end of a pipe is referred to as a flange.

9 – What Should I Look For in a Supplier?

To ensure only the very best components are bought, it’s important to insist on a supplier that’s well established, professional, has a strong reputation and backs all products and services with extensive guarantees such as BMI Engineering.

Image credits: Uberculture and Kevin Lawver