What You Should Know About Compression Fittings

Brass plumbing fitting

If you do any work on piping systems — whether that’s for plumbing or in another industry — then understanding your options for valves and fittings will be key to your success in building effective, efficient and long-lasting systems. In many cases, the best option for joining pipes is what’s called a “sweat joint,” or a joint that is soldered together. But when this isn’t possible, there’s another good option: compression fittings.

Compression Fittings

Compression fittings work using a the combination of a threaded body, a nut and a ferrule. Essentially, there is both an outer compression nut and an inner compression ring; when the nut on the outside is tightened, it compresses the ferrule between the nut and the body, providing a secure joint. Compression fittings are made of a variety of materials, but brass fittings are popular due to their robust nature. It’s important if you’re working with any drinking water systems that you choose lead free compression fittings; lead free brass fittings are any that contain less than 0.25% lead, under the latest regulations.

Focus on Flare Fittings

Flare fittings are a very popular subset of compression fittings. In these, a flare nut secures flared tubing to a tapered fitting, resulting in a leak-tight seal that is highly resistant to pressure. These are a very reliable type of fitting, and are therefore often used in joints where failure would be catastrophic. For the same reasons noted above, brass flare fittings are generally the most durable choice.

Major Pros and Cons

The major pros of using compression fittings, either flare fittings or another kind, is that they do not need to be soldered. This is an advantage in tight spaces where soldering would be impossible or would present a fire hazard. They can be disassembled and reassembled for maintenance without threatening the integrity of the piping in question. Their resistance to pressure is also useful when dealing with materials such as toxic gases. The downside of compression fittings is that they do not tolerate flexing as well as soldered joints.

Are you looking for brass flare fittings in particular, another kind of compression fitting or a different kind of fitting altogether? Discuss your preferences for fittings and joint types in the comments.

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