How to Use Solderless Copper Pipe Fittings

Bob Haring

Copper pipe is used in water systems in most homes to carry hot and cold water throughout the house. Traditionally, copper pipes have been joined with solder connections.

These are made by putting the two ends of a copper pipe into a joint (a tee if more than two are being connected) or a sleeve, which fits over the ends of the pipes. Flux is spread on the inside of the joint, which then is heated with a torch. Solder is applied to the heated copper to melt into and seal the seam. However, there are other options to connect copper pipes.

Compression Fittings

  1. Join two or more pipes together using compression fittings. These have a tapered brass cylinder inside the fitting, with nuts on the outside. Compression fittings are used commonly in cutoffs under sinks and behind toilets, where they connect two parts of a supply line with a third line that feeds the sink or toilet.

  2. Cut the copper pipe ends square and fit them into the compression fitting. Mate two ends if joining two pieces of pipe or put one end into each outlet on a tee connector.

  3. Tighten the nuts with the correct size wrench, which pushes the pipe end into the tapered cylinder to make a watertight compression seal. Remove compression fittings by loosening the nuts. Always make sure water is off before working with compression fittings.

Epoxy Connectors

  1. Purchase some type of epoxy or similar cement to make solderless copper connectors, such as Just4Copper and Noble Copper Bond. They work in similar fashion.

  2. Clean the ends of the pipes to be joined with 60 grit sandpaper. Sand them until the copper is shiny bright. Do not wipe the sanding dust off.

  3. Put a thin bead of the cement on the outside of the pipe and the inside of the connector being used to make the joint. Put the pipe in the connector and rotate it 180 degrees, then turn it back and hold it at least 5 seconds. The bond should be permanent in about 45 seconds. On larger pipes or those that cannot be rotated, put cement on the pipe and connector, push together and hold it until it bonds.

Push-Fit Connections

  1. Purchase some type of push-fit connector. These use a rubber O-ring with a "gripping ring" inside brass joints. Examples of two patented products include Sharkbite and COPRO, which differ in details but work similarly.

  2. Cut the ends of the pipe square and push them into the connector until the gripping ring catches and holds the pipe. Attach one pipe at a time. Joints are made for straight runs, elbows and tee connectors.

  3. Remove pipes from push-fit connectors using special removal tools if changes are needed. The connectors can be used again if they are not damaged.