Fast fitting

Cold weather inevitably brings with it a rise in emergency call-outs. James Bell, SharkBite Brand Director at Reliance Worldwide Corporation, highlights how metal push-fit technology has advanced to help installers respond to and repair winter’s plumbing problems more quickly and effectively than ever before.

Seasonal worries

According to research, winter is an exceptionally worrying time for homeowners who are concerned about the unexpected costs it might bring such as boiler breakdowns, frozen or burst pipes and high energy bills.

A recent survey revealed 30% of UK homeowners fear their boiler will fail this winter but further research shows that when temperatures tumble, the biggest and most expensive household issue to fix is ‘escape of water’, mainly as a result of burst water pipes.

In fact, during the ‘big chill’ of 2010/ 2011 burst pipes caused damage to as many as three million homes, bringing an increase of 45% in subsequent insurance claims compared to the previous year. Worryingly, the risk of ‘escape of water’ damage caused by household plumbing problems could increase once again if this year’s predicted Super El Nino hits home.

However, although cold temperatures can spell pipework trouble, data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the likelihood of household flooding from burst water pipes has increased significantly simply as a result of modern life and appliances. For example, in 1970 only 30% of UK homes were fitted with central heating; today this figure is closer to 95%. Similarly, just 65% of households had a washing machine in 1970; today 95% of all homes have one.

This naturally growing risk means our modern homes require more sophisticated and robust plumbing pipework and fittings solutions that can cope with the ever-increasing demands placed upon them.

Single system solution

Generally, the colder months mean that installers get busier. In fact, in previous years one Central London plumbing business has seen an increase in weekly call outs during winter of more than 10 per cent, bringing them an average of 2,000 jobs per week.

Therefore, the forces driving advances in plumbing solutions are two-fold; installers need a connection method that can ensure a permanent, reliable and good quality first time fix that their customers can be confident in, and they want solutions that also help them to do their job more quickly and more easily.

These specific requirements have helped to shape one of the latest developments in metal push-fit fittings. SharkBite is the industry’s only range of ultra-low lead, brass push-fit fittings that can be used to join five different types of pipe – copper, chromed copper, carbon steel, PEX or polybutylene – in any combination. This provides a hugely practical benefit for installers responding to emergency call-outs. They can now rely on one single system solution and be confident that they have the tools to deliver a high-quality repair no matter what configuration, type of pipework or situation they face when they arrive.

The versatility and robust nature of metal push-fit valves and fittings can also reduce the need for repeat visits to make repairs.

SharkBite fittings are designed to be incredibly secure and watertight and most critically at this time of year, the ranges’ Slip Couplings enable quick, permanent repairs to burst and split pipes, even in wet conditions, so there’s no time wasted in draining down a whole system. The Slip Couplings’ slim-line body design means they’re also an ideal solution for repairs in confined spaces such as ceiling voids or behind walls.

Extending existing pipe systems is quick and easy too, with SharkBite Slip Tees. These fittings incorporate an extended run (slip end) that enables a retrospective line extension to be installed in just minutes.

All fittings in the range are fully demountable and can instantly be re-used, further reducing time, cost and waste. In addition, installers require no extra tooling as they would with press-fit solutions and no solder, flux or heat to create joints, negating the need for a hot works permit and providing a major advantage from a health and safety and insurance perspective. With so many benefits, SharkBite is proving how metal push-fit fittings have advanced to be one of the most flexible and reliable solutions in an installer’s everyday armoury.