If you’ve discovered that your home has polybutylene pipes, it can be a scramble trying to figure out what to do about this ticking time bomb.
Replacing part or all of your polybutylene piping is often the solution, and anything that can make that process easier is a blessing! Let’s take a look at some Sharkbite products and what exactly they are used for.
There are three connection products from Sharkbite that can be used with polybutylene pipes. However, only one side of these connectors is designed to match polybutylene piping. The other side must be connected to another type of material.
3 Sharkbite Products Compatible With Polybutylene
Out of the entire product catalog, Sharkbite only makes three products that are compatible with polybutylene.
Transition 90° Elbow
This 90° transition elbow by Sharkbite can be used to connect a polybutylene pipe to a pipe made of a different material.
To be more specific, the gray end of this elbow is only compatible with polybutylene, while the other end can be connected to anything from a copper, CPVC, PE-RT, PEX, or HDPE pipe.
The elbow itself is made from brass. Being a 90° elbow, this fitting is perfect for transitioning the end of an old polybutylene pipe in a tight, cramped, or curved space to a different, safer type of pipe.
Since this elbow utilizes push-to-connect technology, it is even easier to use in tight spaces!
Just like with the transition 90° elbow, this brass transition coupling can be used to connect a polybutylene pipe to a copper, CPVC, PE-RT, PEX, or HDPE pipe.
Of course, it works the same way as the elbow as well; the gray end of this pipe is only compatible with polybutylene, while the other end can be used to couple a pipe of any other listed material.
Unlike the 90° elbow, this coupling may not be as suitable for transitioning from polybutylene piping in a cramped space. However, its easy push-to-connect design may still allow for the possibility.
That said, it would be better used for a length of pipe that will continue running some distance in the same direction it is already going.
This brass crimp adapter can be used for transitioning from polybutylene pipe to PEX pipe.
Like the two above fittings, only one end of this adapter is meant to be connected to polybutylene; the other end cannot be. We will discuss why that is in a moment.
Although PEX is rather flexible compared to other types of piping, this crimp adapter may not be best suited to adapting a pipe in a very tight space requiring a bend. Like the normal transition coupling, this crimp adapter would be best suited for straight piping.
If you need to make a very tight turn, I would recommend the 90° elbow above, which is also PEX compatible.
Cannot Connect Two Polybutylene Pipes
You may have noticed that with each of the three above products, I stated that only one end is suitable for a polybutylene connection, while the other is not.
The most simple reason for this is that polybutylene is “banned,” for use!
Polybutylene stopped being used for one main reason: it’s almost guaranteed to break, making it a huge liability and a danger to the integrity of your home.
Since the mid 1900s, polybutylene manufacturers have stopped selling to the United States and other countries that have also imposed polybutylene restrictions or bans.
In other words, you’re unlikely to even be able to get a hold of polybutylene pipes to join together, and if you could, well, you probably wouldn’t want to.
Since you are not allowed to install new polybutylene pipes, you aren’t likely to find easy ways to join them.
With regards to these Sharkbite products in particular, they are specifically used for transitioning away from polybutylene to more reliable types of pipe.
Their polybutylene-compatible end is used for connecting to a remaining piece of PB pipe that is still in good condition, while the other end allows you to build a new pipe system from your material of choice.
Why Other Products Aren’t Polybutylene-Compatible
If you’re trying to connect a normal fitting for a different material to your PB pipe, you likely won’t have much luck since polybutylene pipes and fittings are no longer readily available.
If you were to try and use a coupling made for a different type of pipe, you are likely to end up with a leak, or else, you may need to go through extensive trouble to get a solid connection.
For example, you wouldn’t be able to use a normal PEX crimp on polybutylene. Long story short, there’s a size and thickness difference between the two types of pipes that would make a proper fitting difficult, and would likely allow for a leak.
Adapter and transition pieces like these Sharkbite products allow for a smooth transition from polybutylene pipe to pipes of other materials.
They remove the difficulty of figuring out how to manage mismatched connections and enable homeowners to more easily move away from their old polybutylene system without a complete overhaul.