Monday, April 13, 2009

SharkBite Connection System... a fairly new homeowner (less than 6 months) I have a lot to learn about home repair and upkeep.  As my home is 40 years old, retains its original copper plumbing and is run off of well water which happens to be VERY hard, both my heating system (forced hot water) and sink/toilet water piping is in questionable condition.  We have had a few leaks thus far and one instance of a frozen/burst pipes due to last November's ice storm and the accompanying power outage.  So being able to repair pipes has become a skill I HAVE to have in order to keep the house running properly, the wife happy and son warm.  Paying a plumber at some $100+ an hour rate to come out and fix a leaky pipe connection every few months is NOT an option (especially given my current unemployed status).
Until this past weekend I believed my only legitimate option was to learn how to sweat and solder pipes and pipe fittings.  Admittedly a good skill to have I got its basics down fairly quickly and am able to sweat a fitting adequately.  A problem arose however when a hot water pipe that sprung a leak was discovered to be far more pitted, corroded and damaged by the hard water than would be repairable by a simple cut and refit into its "T" junction.  In this case I would need to remove a long (1 foot +) section of pipe.  Great I thought, there goes Easter dinner...
So off to Home Depot I went, looking to pick up some more copper pipe, a new tank of propane and some more solder.  In asking one of the employees about a few things the local Londonderry Home Depot (always VERY helpful and friendly--the best HD I have ever been in) worker pointed me instead to this new line of products they are selling called the "SharkBite" connection system.
Sold in Europe for many years, this product is now making inroads in the U.S., requiring no special tools, no torch, no soldering--nothing except your own two hands and perhaps a pipe cutter--to create a connection good to over 200 psi and 200 degrees.  Using a proprietary "O-Ring" fitting, the system is amazingly simple, merely pressing the copper (or CPVC or PEX) tubing into the various SharkBite connectors.  Seriously, what would have taken a half hour or more of prepping metal, slathering flux, heating up the metal, dripping solder into joints and wondering if it was all done correctly now took less than 3 minutes of simply cutting the tubing to length, pressing each connector on the tube (requiring no more force than popping the top of a beer bottle) and then connecting them together.  It was literally child's play.  The connections do not come apart without a small nickel sized "C" clip that opens the "O-Rings" and will
 remain water tight and flexible (more than I can say for the brass/solder/copper fittings that fill the rest of my water system).
In all seriousness I have NEVER run across any product in any field that worked as well or as easy as the SharkBite connections and the amount of time and aggravation that it saves me from soldering pipes and their fitting back together is astounding.  If you are a home owner you MUST have a few of these connections in your home to have on hand.  Oh, and thats the other thing...they are dirt cheap for what they do...a few bucks a piece for each connection.  Save yourself time, money and headaches if you own your own home--get the SharkBite connection system...

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