Taking the Rough Out of Rough-In

SharkBite PEX tubing and push-to-connect fittings make quick work of plumbing rough-in

PEX tubing has revolutionized plumbing rough-in. Using continuous coils of flexible tubing drastically reduces the number of connectors needed, which means less labor time spent measuring and cutting. Fittings are still needed at both ends and at branch lines, but that end of things is undergoing a revolution as well with the advent of push-to-connect fittings.

Boardwalk Builders' Model Remodel East project used SharkBite PEX pipe and SharkBite EvoPEX fittings, along with HoldRite PEX support brackets. (SharkBite and HoldRite are brands of Reliance Worldwide Corporation.)

“We’ve been using SharkBite for years,” says Ray Messler, supervisor in the custom home division of Chesapeake Plumbing and Heating, Inc., the contractor on the job. “It’s great for service work and remodeling, where we come across a lot of different pipe materials—copper, CPVC, PEX—and SharkBite has adaptors for everything.” One of the advantages of SharkBite fittings is that they don’t require any special tools to make a connection: All it takes is moderate hand pressure and a slight twisting motion to make a sound connection [1]. 

In this typical work sequence, a short length of PEX is pushed into a SharkBite EvoPEX tee fitting [1A]. PEX for a riser is held in place and cut to length [1B], and a 90-degree elbow is pushed onto both pipes [1C]. The complete connection took about 30 seconds, start to finish [1D].

And the newer version of SharkBite fittings used on this project have a green indicator that confirms a watertight connection [2]. “The new fittings with the green indicator are a much better product,” Messler says. “It used to be you could only tell by feel that you’d made a good connection. Now you can just look for the green to be sure you’re fully engaged into the fitting.”

SharkBite push-to-connect PEX fittings have a green indicator that confirms the fitting is fully engaged.

HoldRite brackets [3] are nothing new to Messler, either. “We’ve been using them for a while,” he says. “The stub-outs looks better, and everything stays straight and in the right position.”

At stub-outs, PEX pipe is fed through a HoldRite turn-out fitting snapped into a matched metal brackets [3A]. The brackets, which can be rotated 360 degrees, hold the stub-outs straight and keep them firmly in the proper position [3B].

Compared with copper, SharkBite fittings are more expensive, but the savings in time can work to a contractor’s advantage. Not only are flux and solder a thing of the past—something to think about when you’re lying on your back in a crawlspace working on a joint overhead—but there’s no need for additional tools to crimp or compress the connections.

Leaks? “We’ve had no issues with call backs for leaks,” Messler says. That streak may not last forever, but if a leak does occur, repairing it with a new SharkBite connector will be easier than a soldered copper fitting.

East Coast

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