Sweat Fittings vs. Compression Fittings: What’s the Difference?


Homeowners have a lot that they have to deal with on a daily basis. If you’re the do-it-yourself type of person, then you probably have a lot of things that are constantly thrown at you such as the need to completely update your copper pipes or even to make sure that your gas lines are secure. Neither one of these tasks is small or particularly easy, hence the reason most people hire someone to do it on their behalf. That said, if you are so inclined to do it yourself, there are some things that you have to know. In this particular case, you might be intrigued to know what the difference is between sweat fittings and compression fittings. As it turns out, there is quite a big difference between the two. While there are some cases where they can be used interchangeably, there are also other instances where it simply isn’t possible to use anything but a compression fitting. If you’re wondering how all of this plays out, all you have to do is stick around and keep reading.

Sweat Fittings

Sweat fittings are typically used in copper pipes that are being used as water lines. The reason that these types of fittings are used is because whenever a sweat fitting is present, the pipes are soldered together at the joints. When you solder a copper pipe, the heat that is involved draws the pipe in on itself, thereby forming a seal that is completely water-tight. As a result, these types of seals are often used for pipes that are going to be concealed behind a wall such as those that are responsible for supplying water to tubs, showers and sinks. The reason that you want to use these types of fittings is because you obviously don’t want to have a situation where you have a leak that exists behind a wall, as a great deal of water damage can occur by the time that you figure out there is a problem. Even more damage could occur before you can actually shut the water off and get to the pipe itself. In addition, fixing the problem requires you to tear out part of the wall and that’s not exactly something that most homeowners are keen on doing. Even if you have managed to catch the problem before it does a great deal of water damage, you’re still going to be faced with more damage than you probably want to deal with because you are now going to have to replace all of the drywall, finish all of the taping and trimming and then repaint everything in order to restore order to your home. Most people don’t really have the time or the patience for that these days, so it’s better to use something that is more than likely going to prevent these types of issues from happening in the first place. That said, sweat fittings are not always the ideal solution, as you’ll see in the next paragraph.

Compression Fittings

Compression fittings can also be used on copper pipes, but they’re not typically used for your standard water pipes. Instead, they are far more effective in areas where you’re dealing with very high pressure, such as in the case of gas pipes. When you have gas lines that flow into your home, the last thing you want to be forced to deal with is a leak. Not only is it costly and time-consuming, but it can also be exceptionally dangerous. As a result, it is absolutely imperative that you use fittings that are designed specifically for these types of applications. Compression fittings are designed for those applications that deal with very high pressure, often something as high as 10,000 psi. As a result, they work very well for gas lines and they are used exclusively on these types of lines, meaning that if you have a gas line running into your home, you can bet that it has a compression fitting on it. Nothing else is going to do the job. While you might find compression fittings used for a few other applications, you will always find them here.

The Obvious Difference

If you’re still wondering exactly what the difference between a sweat fitting and a compression fitting is, suffice it to say that sweat fittings are typically associated with water lines while compression fittings are associated with gas lines and other applications where the amount of pressure running through that particular pipe is very high. Compression fittings don’t necessarily work as well for standard water lines because the soldering process that is used with sweat fittings creates a watertight seal. A compression fitting might allow a small amount of water to leak past and you don’t want any amount of water leaking when the pipe is located behind your walls. By the same token, you can’t use a sweat fitting for a gas line because it’s not capable of containing the gas and keeping it in the line itself. Regardless of how well that sweat fitting has been soldered, a certain amount of gas is going to escape. Any amount of gas that is escaping into your home is a potential danger, so it is unacceptable to use anything but a compression fitting for these types of applications.

At the end of the day, you want to be sure that you’re handling your projects in the safest and most efficient manner possible. The first thing you have to realize is that if you have any doubt whatsoever about your ability to complete a project safely, don’t hesitate to contact someone who can either help you or even do it on your behalf. It’s fine to tackle projects in your home yourself as long as you can be safe while you’re doing it. As a matter of fact, a lot of people tackle projects with water lines, even those involving pipes located behind their walls. That said, you might want to hire a professional if you’re dealing with gas lines. Saving money is important, but it’s not nearly as important as being safe.

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