What is Plumbing Fitting? (A Comprehensive List)

Have you ever wondered how water flows seamlessly through your home or office, supplying you with clean water and disposing of waste? Plumbing fittings play a crucial role in this seemingly magical process.

In this comprehensive list, we will explore the world of plumbing fittings, their types, uses, and everything else you need to know.

What is a plumbing fitting?

A plumbing fitting refers to a component or device used in plumbing systems to connect, redirect, control, or regulate the flow of water, gas, or other fluids.

It is an essential part of any plumbing system and is designed to ensure a secure and leak-proof connection between pipes, valves, fixtures, or other plumbing components.

Fittings come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, including copper, brass, PVC, and stainless steel, among others, and they may include connectors, adapters, couplings, elbows, tees, valves, or unions, depending on the specific application.

The primary purpose of plumbing fittings is to create a reliable and functional plumbing system that effectively delivers water or gas to the desired locations and allows for easy maintenance and repairs when necessary.

Types of plumbing fittings


A coupling is a plumbing fitting used to connect two pipes of the same diameter. It typically consists of two threaded ends that can be tightened together, creating a secure joint.

Couplings are commonly used in both residential and commercial plumbing systems to extend or repair pipe lengths.

They come in various materials such as PVC, brass, or copper.

Polyvinyl chloride

PVC is a type of plastic commonly used in plumbing fittings and pipes. It is known for its durability, affordability, and resistance to corrosion, making it a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor plumbing applications.

PVC fittings are available in a wide range of sizes and configurations, including elbows, tees, couplings, and adapters.

They are often used in drainage systems, water supply lines, and irrigation systems.


A valve is a plumbing fitting used to control or regulate the flow of fluid (water, gas, or liquid) through a pipe.

Valves can be opened or closed to allow or stop the flow, or they can be adjusted to control the rate of flow.

They play a crucial role in plumbing systems, enabling the user to shut off water supply to specific areas, control water pressure, or redirect the flow.

Common types of valves include ball valves, gate valves, globe valves, and check valves, each designed for specific purposes and applications.


Brass is a metal alloy primarily composed of copper and zinc. It is a popular material used in plumbing fittings due to its excellent corrosion resistance and durability.

Brass fittings are known for their strength and are commonly used in water supply lines, especially for connections to faucets, showers, and other fixtures.

Brass fittings can be found in various shapes, such as elbows, tees, adapters, and valves, and they are often preferred for their aesthetic appeal and ease of installation.


A reducer is a plumbing fitting used to connect two pipes of different diameters. It is designed to smoothly transition from a larger pipe size to a smaller one or vice versa.

Reducers can be concentric, maintaining a straight centerline, or eccentric, having an offset centerline.

They are available in various materials such as PVC, brass, or stainless steel, and they are commonly used in plumbing systems to adapt pipe sizes and facilitate efficient fluid flow.


A flange is a flat or raised ring-like fitting typically made of metal that is used to connect pipes, valves, or equipment together.

Flanges have holes around their perimeter to allow bolts to pass through, creating a strong and secure connection.

They provide an easy and convenient method for assembling or disassembling parts of a plumbing system.

Flanges are commonly used in high-pressure and high-temperature applications, such as industrial piping systems or large-scale plumbing projects.

Compression fitting

A compression fitting is a type of plumbing fitting used to join pipes or tubing without the need for soldering or welding.

It consists of three main components: a compression nut, a compression ring (also called a ferrule or olive), and a compression seat.

When the nut is tightened onto the fitting, it compresses the ring onto the pipe, creating a watertight seal.

Compression fittings are commonly used in both residential and commercial plumbing systems, particularly with copper or plastic pipes, and they are known for their ease of installation and disassembly for repairs or modifications.

Trade union

In the context of plumbing, a trade union typically refers to an organization that represents and advocates for the rights and interests of plumbers and other skilled tradespeople.

Trade unions play a crucial role in the plumbing industry by promoting fair labor practices, providing training and apprenticeship programs, negotiating contracts, and ensuring safe working conditions.

They often work closely with government bodies, contractors, and industry stakeholders to establish standards and regulations, protect workers’ rights, and uphold the quality and professionalism of the plumbing trade.


A bushing is a plumbing fitting used to join pipes or fittings of different sizes.

It consists of a cylindrical-shaped device with one end having male threads and the other end having female threads.

Bushings are commonly used to reduce the size of a pipe fitting, allowing for a smooth transition between different pipe diameters.

They can be made of various materials, such as brass, PVC, or stainless steel, and are used in both residential and commercial plumbing systems.


A trap is a plumbing fitting that is crucial for drainage systems.

It is a curved or U-shaped pipe section that retains a small amount of water, forming a water seal.

The water seal prevents foul odors and gases from the sewer system from entering the building while still allowing wastewater to flow through.

Traps are commonly found under sinks, bathtubs, and other fixtures that connect to the plumbing system.

Caps and plugs

Caps and plugs are plumbing fittings used to seal the end of a pipe or fitting. Caps are typically used to seal the end of an open pipe, while plugs are used to seal threaded or recessed openings.

They provide a secure closure, preventing the leakage of fluids or the entry of debris into the plumbing system.

Caps and plugs come in various materials, such as plastic or metal, and are used during installation, repairs, or when a pipe or fitting is temporarily not in use.

Plastic pipework

Plastic pipework refers to a type of pipework system made from various plastic materials, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride), or PEX (cross-linked polyethylene).

Plastic pipework has gained popularity in plumbing due to its affordability, ease of installation, and resistance to corrosion.

It is commonly used in residential plumbing systems for water supply lines, drainage, and venting.

Plastic pipework is available in different sizes and configurations, and it often utilizes fittings like couplings, elbows, and tees to create a complete plumbing system.

Diverter tee

A diverter tee is a specialized plumbing fitting used to redirect or control the flow of water or other fluids.

It features three openings and allows fluid to be diverted from one pipe in two different directions.

Diverter tees are commonly used in shower systems, where they enable switching between a showerhead and a handheld shower or other water outlets.

They often have built-in valves or levers to control the flow between the different outlets.

Reducing coupling

A reducing coupling is a plumbing fitting used to connect pipes or fittings of different diameters.

It consists of two ends with different sizes, allowing for a smooth transition between larger and smaller pipes.

Reducing couplings are commonly used to join pipes with different diameters in a plumbing system, ensuring a secure and leak-free connection.

They can be made of various materials, including PVC, brass, or stainless steel, and are available in different configurations, such as threaded or slip-on.

Flare fitting

A flare fitting is a type of plumbing fitting used to create a secure connection between pipes or tubing that carry fluids under high pressure, typically gas or liquid.

The fitting consists of a tapered end on the pipe or tubing and a matching cone-shaped fitting nut.

When tightened, the flare fitting compresses the pipe or tubing against the cone-shaped surface, creating a tight seal. Flare fittings are commonly used in gas lines, refrigeration systems, and hydraulic applications.

National pipe thread

National Pipe Thread is a standardized thread type used in plumbing fittings, particularly in North America.

It is a tapered thread design that ensures a tight and leak-resistant connection between pipes and fittings.

NPT threads are commonly found in various plumbing components, such as valves, connectors, and adapters.

They are available in different sizes, including NPT, NPTF (National Pipe Thread Fuel), and NPSC (National Pipe Straight Coupling), and require the use of thread sealant, such as Teflon tape or pipe dope, to achieve a proper seal.

British standard pipe

British Standard Pipe is a set of thread standards used primarily in the United Kingdom and other countries following British engineering standards.

It includes two types of threads: BSP parallel (BSPP) and BSP tapered (BSPT). BSP fittings are commonly used in plumbing systems for water and gas applications.

The parallel threads are sealed using a sealing washer or o-ring, while the tapered threads rely on thread engagement for a secure connection.

BSP fittings are available in various sizes and configurations to accommodate different pipe diameters.

Half coupling

A half coupling is a plumbing fitting used to join two pipes or fittings together. It consists of a female threaded opening on one end and a smooth (unthreaded) end on the other.

The female threaded end allows it to be connected to a threaded pipe, while the smooth end is typically welded or soldered to another pipe.

Half couplings are commonly used in pipe-to-pipe connections where one end of the coupling needs to be welded or soldered to create a secure joint.

Full coupling

A full coupling is similar to a half coupling but has threaded ends on both sides. It is used to join two pipes of the same size together.

The threaded ends of the full coupling allow for an easy and secure connection without the need for welding or soldering.

Full couplings are commonly used in plumbing systems where pipe sections need to be extended or joined together.

Pipe caps

Pipe caps, also known as end caps, are plumbing fittings used to seal the end of a pipe.

They come in different shapes and sizes to fit various pipe diameters. Pipe caps are typically flat or dome-shaped and are designed to provide a tight seal, preventing the escape of fluids and protecting the interior of the pipe from debris or contaminants.

They are commonly used in plumbing systems during construction, repairs, or when a pipe end is temporarily not in use.

Street elbow

A street elbow is a plumbing fitting that changes the direction of a pipe by 90 degrees.

It has male threads on one end and female threads on the other, allowing for a connection between a male and female fitting while changing the flow direction.

Street elbows are commonly used in plumbing systems where space constraints or pipe alignment require a sharp turn.

They are available in different materials, such as brass, PVC, or stainless steel, and are often used in residential and commercial plumbing installations.

Slip coupling

A slip coupling, also known as a repair coupling or telescopic coupling, is a plumbing fitting used for joining two pipes together in a straight line.

It consists of two sections that can slide into each other, allowing for adjustable length and easy installation.

Slip couplings do not require any additional fittings or adhesives, as they rely on the compression force between the two pipe sections to create a watertight seal.

They are commonly used in repairs or modifications where a damaged section of pipe needs to be replaced without cutting the existing pipe.

Pipe flanges

Pipe flanges are flat, circular fittings with holes around their perimeter. They are used to connect pipes, valves, or equipment by bolting them together, creating a strong and secure joint.

Flanges are available in different sizes and materials, including steel, stainless steel, or brass, to suit specific application requirements.

They provide easy access for maintenance, repairs, or disassembly of the connected components and are commonly used in industrial piping systems or large-scale plumbing projects.

Tee type pipe fitting

A tee-type pipe fitting, commonly referred to as a tee, is a plumbing fitting that has a T-shaped design.

It allows for the connection of three pipes or tubing lines at a 90-degree angle, creating a branch or junction.

Tees can have either female or male threads, or they can be slip-on for solvent welding or soldering connections.

They are used in plumbing systems to split or combine fluid flow and are available in various materials, such as PVC, copper, or stainless steel, to accommodate different applications and pipe sizes.

What is the purpose of plumbing fittings?

Plumbing fittings serve the crucial purpose of connecting, redirecting, controlling, and sealing pipes and components within a plumbing system, facilitating the smooth flow of water, gases, and other fluids while ensuring structural integrity and efficiency.

Plumbing fittings enable the proper assembly of plumbing systems through:

  • Joining pipes
  • Changing directions
  • Splitting or combining flow
  • Regulating flow rates with valves
  • Sealing pipe ends
  • Providing easy access for maintenance and repairs

What are the most common types of plumbing fittings?

The most common types of plumbing fittings include couplings, elbows, tees, valves, and adapters.

Couplings are used to connect two pipes together, elbows change the direction of the pipe, tees allow for branching of the pipe, valves control the flow of fluids, and adapters provide compatibility between different pipe sizes or materials.

How do you decide what plumbing fitting to use?

When deciding what plumbing fitting to use, it is important to consider factors such as the type of pipes being connected (copper, PVC, etc.), the purpose of the fitting (joining, redirecting, sealing), the required flow rate and pressure, the space constraints, and the plumbing codes and regulations in place.

It may also involve assessing the compatibility between different pipe materials, considering the need for adaptors or transition fittings, and ensuring a proper and leak-free connection.

What materials are used to make plumbing fittings?

Common materials used for plumbing fittings include brass, copper, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PEX (cross-linked polyethylene), stainless steel, and various types of plastic.

Each material offers different properties, such as strength, corrosion resistance, temperature tolerance, and cost, which should be considered when selecting the appropriate fitting for a specific plumbing application.

What is the difference between a pipe and a fitting?

A pipe is a tubular structure made of metal, plastic, or other materials designed to carry fluids such as water, gas, or oil from one location to another.

Pipes are typically available in standardized lengths and diameters and are installed in a straight line or in specific configurations to create a network of fluid flow.

On the other hand, a fitting is a component used to connect, join, or change the direction of pipes in a plumbing system.

Fittings come in various shapes, sizes, and configurations to accommodate different types of connections and requirements.

They are designed to provide a secure and leak-free connection between pipes and other plumbing components such as valves, fixtures, or appliances.

Fittings serve multiple purposes in a plumbing system. They can be used to join two pipes together, either of the same diameter or different sizes, through threaded connections, compression fittings, or solvent welding.

Fittings can also be used to change the direction of pipe flow, such as elbows or tees, allowing pipes to turn at angles or branch off into multiple directions.

Also, fittings provide options for regulating or controlling the flow of fluids through the use of valves or other flow control mechanisms.

How are plumbing fittings installed?

  1. Prepare the pipes: Cut the pipes to the desired length using a pipe cutter or saw. Ensure that the ends of the pipes are clean, smooth, and free from any debris or burrs.
  2. Choose the appropriate fitting: Select the fitting that matches the connection type, pipe diameter, and material. Consider the specific function of the fitting, such as joining pipes, changing direction, or regulating flow.
  3. Prepare the fitting: If the fitting has threads, apply thread sealant or tape to ensure a tight seal. For solvent-weld fittings, clean the mating surfaces and apply the appropriate solvent cement according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Connect the fitting: Insert the pipe into the fitting or screw the fitting onto the pipe, ensuring a secure and tight connection. Follow any specific guidelines for alignment, depth, or torque provided by the manufacturer.
  5. Secure the connection: Use the appropriate method to secure the fitting, depending on the connection type. This may involve tightening a nut or applying heat for soldering or welding. Follow the recommended procedures and apply the necessary force to create a reliable and leak-free joint.
  6. Test for leaks: Once the fitting is installed, test the system for leaks by running water or pressure through the pipes. Inspect the fittings and connections visually, and use leak detection techniques if necessary. Address any leaks or issues promptly to ensure the integrity of the plumbing system.

What kind of tools do I need to work with plumbing fittings?

  • Pipe cutter: A pipe cutter is a tool used to cut pipes cleanly and accurately. It consists of a sharp cutting wheel that is rotated around the pipe, gradually creating a clean, straight cut. Pipe cutters are available in different sizes to accommodate various pipe diameters.
  • Pipe wrench: A pipe wrench is a sturdy wrench with adjustable jaws that is used to grip and turn pipes, fittings, and other plumbing components. It provides leverage and grip, allowing for the tightening or loosening of threaded connections.
  • Adjustable wrench: An adjustable wrench, also known as a crescent wrench, has a movable jaw that can be adjusted to fit different sizes of nuts, bolts, or fittings. It is useful for tightening or loosening hexagonal or square-shaped nuts on plumbing fittings.
  • Pliers: Various types of pliers, such as slip-joint pliers or tongue-and-groove pliers, are handy for gripping, bending, or twisting pipes and fittings. They can be used to provide additional grip or leverage when working with plumbing components.
  • Pipe threader: If you are working with threaded pipes and fittings, a pipe threader is a specialized tool used to create or repair threads on the ends of pipes. It ensures proper threading for a secure and leak-free connection.
  • Plumber’s tape or sealant: Plumber’s tape, also known as thread seal tape, is a thin, flexible tape that is wrapped around threaded fittings to provide a tight seal and prevent leaks. Pipe joint compound or sealant can also be used for sealing pipe threads or making watertight connections.
  • Deburring tool: A deburring tool is used to remove burrs or rough edges from the cut ends of pipes after they have been cut. It helps ensure smooth surfaces for proper fitting and sealing.
  • Torch or Soldering Iron: If you are working with soldered fittings or copper pipes, a torch or soldering iron is necessary for heating the joint and applying solder to create a secure bond.

How do I maintain plumbing fittings?

Start by inspecting the fittings for any signs of leaks, corrosion, or damage.

Address any issues promptly by tightening loose connections, replacing worn-out washers or seals, or repairing or replacing damaged fittings.

Then, keep the fittings clean by periodically removing any buildup or debris that can affect their performance.

Regularly check and clean filters or screens in fixtures or appliances connected to the plumbing system.

Finally, monitor the overall performance of the plumbing system, including water pressure and flow rates, to identify any potential issues early on and take appropriate action.

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Author: Logan

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