James Bell, SharkBite Brand Director at Reliance Worldwide Corporation reflects on the merits of installing bathroom pipework and fittings both in front of and behind the wall and discusses the latest push-fit technology that’s helping plumbers tackle every type of installation more easily than ever before.
Traditionally, plumbing is usually hidden away in our homes but recent trends in interior design have seen an increasing number of homeowners introduce an ‘industrial’ feel into their decor, exposing materials like brick and pipework. In bathrooms, this has translated into exposing copper or chrome plumbing systems and fittings in front of tiled walls preventing creating issues of scorch or heat damage to tiling.
Thanks to recent developments in today’s metal push-fit fitting technology, exposing pipework and fittings can now deliver both great aesthetic effect and essential practicality wherever they’re installed. Following design trends can often come at the expense of practical considerations such as ease of maintenance and simplicity of installation – both of which are key drivers for any commercial plumbing installations.
A shining example
To provide sleek, slimline and stylish installations, SharkBite has extended its range of innovative metal push-fit fittings. Not only does this provide a great looking end result, the simple push-fit technology also enables a quicker, easier and neater installation compared to other traditional fitting methods such as compression. SharkBite fittings are also easily demountable, making maintenance and repairs more simple to do than ever before.
Furthermore, the combined use of modern fitting technology with no plastering required to conceal pipes behind walls, makes front-of-wall installations readily accessible, naturally leading to easy and quick maintenance when required. This provides benefits for both plumbers and end-users when it comes to minimising downtime.
Commercial premises often have the luxury of more space, but many domestic bathrooms or cloakrooms can be more limited in terms of room and ease of access – another area where front-of-wall installations can win over conventional behind-the-wall methods. The same goes for making repairs – in space-limited areas, squeezing tools into behind-wall spaces and maintaining the visibility needed to carry out a repair can be difficult – by bringing pipes and fittings to in front of the wall, access becomes much simpler.
When working in tight spaces, metal push-fit fitting solutions like SharkBite are the ideal tool. Unlike soldering and compression methods, push-fit fittings need minimal amount of space to be installed and can even be pre-assembled prior to final installation.
Although we might be seeing a rising trend for exposed bathroom plumbing in domestic situations, we shouldn’t forget that behind-the-wall systems and traditional bathroom suites are still very much the norm. Yet those who install them are also benefitting from the same developments in metal push-fit fitting technology.
The slimline design of SharkBite fittings mean they’re the perfect solution for difficult to access spaces, as they can be rotated and are easy to insulate. Also, being metal as opposed to plastic enables them to be easily detected in case of any future works.
However, one of the biggest benefits of SharkBite fittings for behind-the-wall installations the inherent flexibility of using one range of fittings for five types of pipe (Copper, Chromed Copper, PEX, Carbon Steel and Polybutylene).
The WRAS approved SharkBite Chrome range includes male and female, straight and bent threaded connectors, couplings, elbows, tees, female threaded branch tees and end stops. The fittings are electroplated prior to the o-ring being inserted which ensures the fitting is free from any harmful residual chemicals and prevents potential component degradation.
Using metal push-fit fittings provides many other advantages for installers and their customers. 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.