A lot of plumbers and HVAC professionals prefer copper to other materials.
But over the years traditional methods of working with copper, in these industries at least, have fallen by the wayside.
Copper needs to be soldered, brazed or welded, which can prove a time-consuming, resource-heavy and at times risky option.
Unless that is, you choose copper press fittings.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at copper press fittings: what they are, and why a plumbing or HVAC professional might choose to use them.
What are copper press fittings?
As most plumbing and HVAC tradespeople will know, copper press fittings are a way to fit copper without the need for any form of heat or flame.
The material is instead clamped in place with a purpose-built hydraulic press tool.
The fittings or connectors feature an internal sealant – usually an o-ring – that forms a strong and reliable seal.
The process is simple, quick and effective.
In recent times copper press fittings have exploded in popularity, and are now produced by a wide variety of manufacturers.
Compression fittings aren’t limited to copper either – other metals, such as stainless steel and carbon steel, are also available.
5 main advantages of copper press fittings
Why are an ever-increasing number of plumbing and HVAC professionals choosing to use copper press fittings?
There are a wealth of reasons, but 5 of the most compelling include:
1. Work more efficiently
Press fittings can be connected in literal seconds.
It's a two-step process: slide the fitting on, then clamp it down.
An experienced professional may only take 30 seconds to complete the job, and can install a number of press fittings in the time they would usually take to weld, solder or braze.
Some estimates suggest that press fittings are 95% more efficient to install than using a traditional method, i.e. you can press 20 fittings in the time it takes to solder or weld one.
Put simply, copper press fittings allow you to get more done.
What's more, there's no more efficient way to repair an issue with a copper pipe than with press fittings.
Repairs can even be made when the pipe is wet, which means that commercial operations will experience minimal interruption.
Instead of shutting down the whole system to perform maintenance, you can do it on the fly.
2. Save money
The efficiency gains offered by copper press fittings can lead to serious labour savings, and the larger the job, the larger those savings become.
Compression systems are also far easier to learn, so you can save significantly on training.
Copper press fittings don’t use consumables, such as oxy and acetylene, and the lack of heat means you save on safety equipment such as PPE and fire extinguishers.
Sure, copper press fittings are a little more expensive than standard copper fittings, but this initial investment is quickly paid back through savings and efficiency gains.
3. Create reliable connections
When installed correctly, copper press fittings are ultra-reliable, and every bit as strong as a soldered or welded connection.
If they are fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, you can expect the connection to last the lifetime of the copper pipe to which it’s attached.
What’s more, you almost entirely remove human error from the equation.
Welding and soldering are difficult, finicky tasks, even for experienced professionals, and mistakes can happen.
Modern press-fit tools, meanwhile, have an autocycle feature that stops the tool as soon as the correct clamping pressure is reached.
All an operator has to do is position it correctly and squeeze the trigger.
4. Improve on-site safety
The heatless and flameless process of installing copper press fittings makes this connection method far safer than traditional methods like soldering, brazing and welding.
Minimal training is required to reach a competent level, and the worst that can really happen is an over-compressed or incorrectly pressed fitting or copper pipe.
Unlike soldering and welding, there’s no need for oxy or acetylene, nor the special permits required to bring these materials onto some sites.
The lack of these gases means that there are no fumes or emissions to contend with, so compressions can safely be made in enclosed spaces.
Less safety gear in general is required, from PPE to fire extinguishers.
5. Tackle any job
Compression fittings aren’t limited to copper – they come in other materials too, such as stainless steel and carbon steel.
This means that no matter the HVAC or plumbing system you’re dealing with, or whether it’s carrying water, refrigerant or any other type of liquid or gas, there will be a compression system to suit.
Fittings marked green are for water, and fittings marked yellow are for gas.
At Forge Plumbing the o-rings used in our press fittings are also fit for purpose, and can even be clamped to other materials, such as brass and PEX.
Thanks to press fittings, there is now a solution that makes working with copper as fast, simple and safe as working with plastic.
What’s more, we offer the same low prices to all our customers, and we never show our prices to the general public, so plumbers can add margins to materials as they see fit.
If you’re ready to work better with copper, we’re ready to help.