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Community and Q&A

Copper Press Fitting vs Soldering

gdbf | Posted in General Questions on

I’ve read that properly pressed fittings last the life of the pipe but I can’t imagine the ring to last that long. It also depends on the water quality, the amount of chlorine…I feel that the traditional soldering is more reliable and long lasting.
Please share your thoughts/experience.

Thanks

Gabriela

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Replies

  1. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #1

    Hi Gabriela,

    Since you are a fan of the soldering method, you might appreciate this
    Mastered in a Minute video that offers a few tips for getting a good solder joint

  2. user-2310254 | | #2

    Gabriela,

    My old-school plumber loves press-on copper. When he re-did some lines in my home to accommodate a whole-house water filter, that's what he used. It was a little more expensive than soldered copper, but worth the extra cost, in his opinion.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    There are two types of fittings like this that are sometimes confused: the so-called "sharkbite" style, which poke onto the end of the pipe, grip the pipe with a sort of ring of teeth, and seal with an O ring, and the "hypress" type which are installed with a large crimp tool and seal with an internal O ring.

    I'm not a fan of the sharkbite type except for emergency repairs. I have specced MANY hypress fittings on chilled water lines and other commercial lines up to 2-1/2" and I've never seen a failure. My mechanical contractors love them. They are a big labor savings over soldered fittings, especially on the larger pipe sizes where soldering is a bigger deal.

    I admit that I used to mistrust the O ring seals, just like I used to spec welded fittings for large (4+ inch) steel pipe, but now use victaulic fittings, which are a type of large clamp-on fitting that you commonly see on fire sprinkler pipes in big warehouse places like Costco. Those have almost a century now in the market and a good reputation.

    I'd still prefer soldered fittings on 1/2 through 1" copper pipe since those solder quickly. Solder can and does fail sometimes (cracks, etc.), but I still trust it more than an O ring seal. That said, there are a LOT of O ring sealed fittings out there, with a very, very low failure rate. You're pretty safe either way.

    Bill

  4. tommay | | #4

    Only time will tell. I've seen plenty of systems come and go but soldering still prevails in my opinion. One drawback to crimping, whether it be pex or copper, is that it's tough to install in tight spaces. And as you mention, once you have an o ring or press ring, your depending on the quality and lifespan of the material exposed to the elements you mention as well as expansion and contraction.

  5. user-2310254 | | #5

    One downside to soldering (and I love to solder) is the open flame. More than one structure has gone up in smoke because of it.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #6

      You can get small fireproof pads to put behind whatever you're soldering. They're not very expensive and I highly recommend them. Keep some water nearby too just in case. It's easy to put out any fire that gets going while you're soldering as long as you're paying attention and act quickly.

      Bill

      1. charlie_sullivan | | #7

        I once made the mistake of putting some aluminum foil tape on a wood surface behind where I was soldering thinking that would offer a little extra protection. The adhesive on the tape caught fire much more easily than the wood would have. Fortunately it was very easy to put out, as Bill says, and I now have one of those fireproof pads.

  6. jberks | | #8

    A wet rag tied around the pipe "upstream" of where you're soldering helps keep the pipe cool when you're considering things like foam-copper interactions catching on fire.

    Solder is pretty tried and true, but I'm not afraid of technology either. Uponor is my favourite, I refuse to use regular pex-B. but I'll Solder copper if the piping is exposed and needs to be pretty like in a mechanical room.

    Pressfit copper (not pushfit ie: sharkbite) is pretty cool. Looks Super fast if you're set up for it (that's a big if) Yes it has o-ring seals which is the debate here. It's hard to say how long it'll last but I personally don't worry about it, I expect I'll be long dead before the seals become a problem.

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