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SharkBite Plumbing Fittings: Do they leak?

SharkBite Fittings on Pex

So what’s the deal with SharkBite plumbing fittings? Should they be used? Do they leak? We answer your questions here.

How SharkBite Fittings Work

Very simply, SharkBite fittings work by pushing teeth onto pipes that then seal a rubber gasket around the connection. This creates a water-tight seal and a connection that is difficult to pull off without the use of a special tool.

SharkBite fittings have been used quite frequently by do-it-yourselfers in order to accomplish small plumbing tasks. Although they are more expensive than regular connections, the simplicity of pushing these pieces on rather than using solder makes for a hassle free installation.

Not to mention, SharkBite connections work on Copper, Pex, and CPVC making it the all around connector.

So, let’s answer the bigger question… do they leak?

Well, not really. However, that does not mean they could not leak.

You see, SharkBite connections have only been around for about 15 years. Furthermore, the internal rubber gasket for a water seal has some experts questioning their reliability. The name SharkBite has also been brought up in class action lawsuits associated the Pex installations.

How are they leaking?

Well, in the U.S. we use chlorine in order to disinfect our water. You might have heard of the issue with polybutylene, it’s basically the same thing. Pex is another polyethylene (plastic) polymer that MIGHT leak with the small amounts of chlorine. …Important note, this has NOT been fully researched and found. Lawsuits are still underway.

In effort of full disclosure, we have blogged about Pex (and why you should use it) and about the issues with polybutylene.

Therefore, if you are using SharkBite connections on your Pex plumbing, some experts are claiming the rubber gasket might get worn out by chlorine. Moreover, SharkBite connections coupled with Pex, raises some eyebrows into reliability. Especially considering the teeth of the SharkBite might damage Pex causes a weak point for chlorine leaks.

There is another part to this too. Quoted from Pex Lawsuits:

PEX pipes are made of plastic tubing that is connected by brass fittings. It has been alleged that these fittings contain a higher-than-normal level of zinc, which, when they come in contact with water, can fail earlier than expected due to a process known as “dezincification.” This can cause a range of problems, including leaks and flooding.

It is believed that some PEX tubing may be failing due to the amount of stress placed on the brass fittings connecting the tubes. When repetitive stress is put on the fittings, a hole or notch can develop and can eventually progress to a crack or fracture.

Just an fyi, not all Pex uses brass fittings.

Conclusion – Should You Use SharkBite?

Honestly, these connectors make repairs and installs so simple! It is difficult to not use them. Therefore, personally, I would recommend using them for small projects and replacements that are in sight.

Here some great applications for use:

  • Water Heaters
  • Undersink Connections
  • In Garages
  • Temporary Installs During Remodels

Since their longevity is unknown, I would not recommend installing them inside walls. Builders of course should never use these connectors as they are too expensive, but the data is just not there yet either. However, SharkBite connections are perfect for water heater installs and small projects for homeowners where if a leak were to happen, you can easily see it.

If you want more SharkBite fittings, check out this video from Matt Risinger, a builder in Texas.