This weekend, I needed to move a pipe to add a hookup for the icemaker in a new fridge. The pipe’s in a cramped wall between the downstairs shower and the alcove the fridge sits in. Soldering copper pipe in a cramped corner like that can be an awkward pain, so I decided to try something new.
This thing is called a SharkBite connector:
Inside the hole is an o-ring and a bunch of sharp little teeth that look like those things that threaten your car’s tires if you go out the entrance of a parking lot in the city. The neat thing about this is that it’ll grab on to copper, PEX, or CPVC tubing and it doesn’t need any solder, glue, or fancy crimping tools. It seemed like the perfect thing to try for this hookup.
Whenever you try something new like this, you need to learn the tricks. Because of that, this project ended up being a lot more involved than I would have liked. I figured I would post what I learned here. Maybe that way someone else will be able to get started with less fuss.
The first thing I ran into is that the pipe slides an inch into the hole. That’s a lot more than on the old copper connectors. This means that if you’re trying to add a tee to the middle of an existing run, you’ll need an inch of lateral play to get the fitting on. The plumbing in the cramped corners of an old house doesn’t usually have that kind of play.
These connectors seem to be very unhappy if there is any lateral force on the joint. I had one where this caused a small leak on the side that was under tension. I had to take it apart and lay it out straighter.
For the line out to the fridge hookup, I used PEX. It turns out that when you pull PEX tubing through the walls of an old house with plaster walls, the sharp bits of plaster which stick in through the lathe make longitudinal scratches in the tubing. Theses scratches can be deep enough that the SharkBite connector’s o-ring can’t seal the joint. Then you need to pull the tubing back out and try again.
But for all of that, it was still a pretty nice experience. I think that after you get used to working with this stuff, you could probably go pretty quickly.