June 20, 2011
It's so nice living in Colorado, especially during the summer. If you're an outdoorsman you can bike, hike, fish, raft, and rock climb. As a Colorado native, and Denver architect, I appreciate the grand architecture of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
We have a summer cabin we enjoy from May through September. We usually go up for the first time around Memorial Day, but this year life got in the way. So this weekend was our first time up for the season. And as usual the first weekend was spent cleaning, preparing for the summer, and fixing burst pipes.
Without fail it seems that every year we have some plumbing issues, pipe sweating, or water heater elements to fix at the beginning of the summer. And this year we had a couple of weeks back in January and February when the weather was miserably cold. We knew going up that we'd have something to work on. I was surprised that there weren't more repairs that had to be made.
This year we decided to try something new. Shark bites! I know that this product has been out for a few years, but this was my first time using them. And I was amazed.
Sweating broken pipes isn't hard. It is time consuming and especially in tight situations it can be a little dangerous with the flame and propane. And because our cabin, which is 60-70 years old, is wood construction there is always the added danger of something catching fire.
I was a little leery of using Shark bite fittings because I had never used them, I tend to trust the tried-and-true methods, and I don't know anyone that has used them.
Shark bite fittings are fast and solid connections. You don't heat, glue or crimp anything. They have a grip ring that holds the pipe to the fitting. It looks like a metal ring with angled teeth that allow you to push the pipe into place but prevent you from pulling the pipe out of the fitting without a special tool.
There are a couple of downsides to Shark bite fittings. The first is their cost. They are almost three times as expensive as a traditional copper fitting. The second is they can't be used in areas where earthquakes are a concern.
If you don't live in an earthquake zone, I believe that in a remodel or home addition situation, Shark bites might still be worth it because they will save money in labor cost. Even though they are more expensive they streamline the process and the job goes quick.