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Thread: To "SHARK" or not to "SHARK"

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member corney's Avatar
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    Question To "SHARK" or not to "SHARK"

    Away back on Christmas eve 2009 YNGWIE_69 from B.C. Canada asked several simple questions Re. Shark connectors.
    coincidentally, specific answers to his questions are the same ones I've been seeking on and off over a long period of time. ( 2 complete bathroom reno's since).

    2 of his questions were simple...Are they code ??do they require access or can they be closed in ??

    Unfortunately, most of the answers to his questions got bogged down on ethics Re. labour charges and then almost degenerated into subtle remarks of fraudulent billing practices without actually answering the quarry.

    I would really appreciate a learned opinion on these two questions and, as the original ones are over 2 yrs. old, I would like to add..Have the experts changed any opinions as to Shark reliability ?? any thoughts other then cost on the "PEX" fittings (plastic or brass) versus Shark ??....I may add that I'm led to believe that the "not-for-sale" issue in Cal. and Vermont has to do with the lead content not the reliability.

    Thanks a lot guys Corney in eastern Ont.
    Last edited by corney; 02-06-2013 at 11:02 AM. Reason: clarification

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sharkbite connectors meet code in the USA...I do not know if they've passed code in Canada. They are considerably more expensive than an equivalent pex specific connection, so unless you only need one or two, and don't want to buy the tool(s) required to install a pex fitting, it's much more cost effective to use the pex specific fittings. If the fitting is placed where it won't be disturbed, it should last a very long time. The seal is made by O-rings and held in place by SS sharp fingers. A pex fitting is either held in place by the collapse of the tubing itself (used by Wirsbo) onto the fitting, or by a crimp ring, compressing the tubing around the fitting over the barbs. There's less to wear out there.

    So, for my mind, it would depend on your application, and if it was a one-off, or something like a repipe which I'd use.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The plastic JD Guess fittings are better for temporary uses since they are much easier to remove. Otherwise the brass and plastic ones are fairly equal, except for cost. They are both approved for inaccessible locations, and are code approved.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member corney's Avatar
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    Hello Jim, thanks for the comeback..Gee, ain't it funny?
    The point I mentioned in my original post Re. some of the "talking down" type replies from some professionals in answer to simple DIY's questions was certainly quickly demonstrated.
    The very first respondent obviously did not bother to read or digest the gist of my question but rather hinted that I lacked some basic mechanical aptitudes and delivered a lecture on soldering 101.
    Thankful;y another blogger came to my defense and corrected the pro's mistaken understanding of the question.

    Rather than start a paper war with anyone on that issue and since the piping layout Re. this current reno is still a bit further down the road I figured to let cooler thoughts prevail before jumping back into the arena. (said while smiling)

    Adding to the original question (which now seems redundant) and, for those who may be interested. I am now led to believe that where the water source is from a private well where trace elements of iron & /or chloremine are present in the water (as in my case) one should avoid the use of metal connecters as these elements cause a corrosive re-action with metal fittings and eventual leaking problems The metal content of "shark fittings are subject to this issue.

    Further to the above. I'm also led to believe that "Shark's" in order meet code in Ontario must be accessible however the 'Pex" fitting can be buried behind wall or under floors. It seems that the decision to go "Pex" plastic rather than metal is a personal choice notwithstanding the private well vs.city water issue.

    The 'Pex" packaging distributed by "Waterline Plumbing Products" in Toronto state "use plastic for well water". Another strange thing Re. these 'Pax" fitting is the plastic is supposed to be every bit as good as the metal ones. So as the plastic are almost half the cost, why would anyone choose metal when doing a major installation.??

    Corney here in snowy E. Ont.
    Last edited by corney; 02-19-2013 at 03:13 PM.

  5. #5
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    I'm a pretty adamant anti-Sharkbite proponent. I don't trust them. When I first saw them, I thought they were cool, but didn't inspire any trust.

    Fast forward. I didn't personally install this fitting, but one of the buildings I manage had one in a line buried in the middle of a ceiling. It exploded. Blew completely off the pipe and did thousands of dollars worth of damage. It didn't happen right away, but quite some time later, after everything was done, tenant was living there, etc.

    I've personally installed them several times, and had them dribble on me right away a couple times. This was after doing clean cuts, cleaning up the edges, etc as you're supposed to do. I do keep a couple sharkbite caps with my plumbing tools. They're handy for temporary capping a copper line I'm cutting out, so that I can turn the water back on. Then I'll usually run all the new pex I need, pull the cap, and make the connection. Way easier than soldering one on, and it doesn't have to be dry... trickling water (from leaky shutoffs) doesn't stop the sharkbite from doing its thing. This is pretty much the only time I'll use them though.

    As to code, I think they're accepted everywhere in the US for inaccessible locations. I wouldn't put one anywhere, or recommend a homeowner with no soldering ability put them anywhere really, except maybe in an unfinished basement where they're accessible and potential damage is minimized. My 1 1/2 cents...

    As for Pex, I use the crimp ring method, and am still partial to the brass fittings, though it does seem that the plastic ones are the way to go these days. I still have a stockpile of brass fittings, so will likely continue to use them until i blow through them all, then switch to plastic. Sounds like your logic for your setup of using the plastic fittings with Pex is sound. Or you could use CPVC, though I've never been much of a fan personally. Just don't see any benefits over Pex, and its a lot more hassle and potential leaks...

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; So as the plastic are almost half the cost, why would anyone choose metal when doing a major installation.??

    Have you looked at the size of the opening in a plastic fitting compared to the one in a brass fitting? PEX tubing has a thicker wall than copper tubing, and the fittings are the same way. Both items, therefore, have much smaller openings, and thus areas, than their counterparts in copper or brass.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It's easy to fail to insert a Sharkbite fitting all the way, and that can allow it to 'blow' off. The recommended procedure is to mark the pipe and make sure you push it on up to the mark. Those SS fingers will hold if installed properly and the pipe is not deformed to begin with (i.e., out of round). Full insertion is required to get even pressure on the O-rings and to ensure it is perfectly concentric with the pipe so the grippers work properly to hold it on. On copper, it's easier to get it on if you remove the reinforcement ferrule, especially if you didn't ream the end of the copper to restore the ID after cutting it. The ferrule is required on pex, but not other types of pipe.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  8. #8
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Just because a product is approved does not necessarily mean its good. Reference the acceptance of polybutylene and the acetyl fittings associated with it. Crap gets approved all the time because manufacturers of crap lobby hard to get their crap approved. A lot of money changes hands and a lot of favors get done so that crap can be brought to market and, shark bites are some of the crappiest crap ever approved. So you can justify and talk yourself into installing crap or you can learn the craft and sleep better at night.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  9. #9
    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    hj, you make some good points about flow rates of Pex vs Copper, but I don't think that's what corney was referring to. If I read it right, the comparison was between brass and plastic pex fittings. I don't think there's much difference between the two in terms of ID, though the plastic fittings might be a smidge smaller.

    Pex is slightly smaller ID. This is only a problem if you install it like its copper, which (in my opinion) is installing it incorrectly. Pex is born to be in a homerun system. for a typical house, 3/4" to a manifold, and individual 1/2" runs to each fixture. no fittings except to connect to the manifold and then the valve at the fixture, so the fittings restrictions are so negligible as to be irrelevant. And you're only feeding one side of a faucet or whatever with each 1/2" line, so you end up with in general a much higher actual flow to each fixture than with the equivalent trunk and branch copper system. Then there's the ease of working on things (only shut off what you need off), the no scale buildup in the pipe over time (reducing flow), no fittings or hard turns (reducing flow rate), nearly no risk of bursting if a line happens to freeze, etc. There's lots of good reasons for using Pex. There are also drawbacks like anything else.

    I have installed hundreds (thousands maybe?) of pex fittings now using crimp rings on mostly brass fittings, and some plastic fittings. I've yet to have a single one leak on me. This includes the very first one I made (well, 2nd, first one was on a test piece not used in a plumbing system to see how it worked), which is in my own home and has never leaked. I have home run system through my entire house, as well as pex hydronic floor heat, so I have around 7000 feet of pex run in this one building. Even with my minimal fittings installation practices, there's a lot of fittings, every one of which held from the first time and has since, and these were the first round of pex fittings I ever did.

    Sharkbites, I've done maybe a dozen or so, anally following the directions. Some on copper, some on pex (though almost all copper, b/c pex crimps are so easy, why bother with a sharkbite?). I'd say that its between 1/3 and 1/2 of those that have leaked on me to some degree. I've never had a blow off. So maybe my near perfect work was just a hair out of perfect, and that caused the damn things to leak? Well, that's enough for me, tells me they're junk if they can't handle any real world conditions.

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