Sharkbite fittings problems: are They reliable?

You have probably heard about sharkbite fittings, especially if you prefer to do your own plumbing. These easy-to-use and beginner-friendly options have caused quite a debate among plumbers, professionals, and DIYers.

And this has led to the question of whether sharkbite fittings are reliable. In this article, we will be taking a closer look at sharkbit fittings. In particular sharkbite fittings problems, and answering the question, are sharkbite fittings reliable?

Sharkbite Fittings Advantages

  • Compared to other types of fittings, such as compression fittings, sharkbite fittings are easy to install almost anyone regardless of their plumbing experience, can install them.
  • Push-to-connect fittings such as sharkbite fittings work well in tight places that are hard to reach. This type of fitting can be rotated with makes work easy in hard-to-reach areas
  • Sharkbite fittings are resable. However, take caution when reusing these fittings, as when they grab a pipe with their teeth they create divots. So you may have to cut the pipe.
  • While there is an argument that sharkbite fittings aren’t reliable, most of the best fittings come with a warranty of up to 25 years.

Sharkbite Fittings Problems

While they are easy to use and save time, sharkbite fittings have some problems you need to be aware of.

  • Prone To Leaking

As mentioned sharkbite fittings are reusable. However, when reused on plastic pipes, they can scratch the pipes. If the scratch is deep, it may cause the pipe to bypass the seal inside the fitting, causing a leakage.

sharkbite fittings leakage

Ideally, sharkbite fittings are designed to be a quick-fix solution. And in my experience, these fittings tend to be more prone to leaking than a soldered joint. However, this is not to say that soldered joints cannot leak; it is just rare. Also, in most cases, the leak is caused by a bad soldering job.

Sharkbite fittings, on the other hand, especially when reused as mentioned, are more prone to leaking. And when used in crucial water and plumbing system can cause considerable damage. And this is why I would not recommend them for behind-the-wall joints.  

  • May Not Be As Reliable

One of the components of a shark bite fitting is a rubber gasket found inside the fitting. This rubber gasket ensures a secure seal to prevent leakages. The problem with rubber gaskets is that they break down when exposed to chlorine over time.

Given that we use chlorine to disinfect water, sharkbite fittings will not be as durable as some other connections, such as soldering. Chlorine can break down any rubber seal or gasket in your house, which is why I don’t think sharkbite fittings are sufficiently durable. 

  • Installation Problems

These types of fittings need to be installed properly to achieve their designed results. This applies to all kinds of fittings and soldering as well, but installation mistakes seem to be more common with these fittings.

This can be due to how easy they are to use, which makes them prone to being misused by practically anyone, even people with minimal to no plumbing experience. For instance, when installing these fittings, the pipe needs to be pushed all the way inside the sharkbite fittings. If this is not done, it will not seal properly. Some people have had issues with their sharkbite fittings because they did not push the pipe all the way.

  • They Are Not UV stable And Not Ground to Contact Suitable 

These fittings are not UV stable, so you should not leave them outside. Also, they are not suited to connections that will be in contact with the ground. Which in some cases can be a problem; thus, they are more limited in their application.

Tips On How To Properly Install Sharkbite Fittings

Don’t be fooled by how easy sharkbite fittings are to install; it is still possible to mess up the installation. And most problems associated with sharkbite fittings can be blamed on poor installation. Here are some useful tips to remember when installing sharkbite fittings. 

  • When installing the fitting, take your time, especially when inserting the pipe into the sharkbite fitting. If you do this quickly, you can end up damaging the O-ring seal inside the fitting, which will result in a leak. 
  • If you are inserting a pipe with burrs on its end, it is wise to use a deburring tool before inserting it into the sharkbite fitting. The tool will help smooth out the end of the pipe. You can also use a gauge tool to measure how deep you need to insert the pipe into the fitting.
  • Cutting the pipe before inserting it may be necessary. In that case, do not use a hacksaw to cut the pipe. Instead use a pipe or tube cutter. With a pipe and tube cutter, you get a smooth and clean-cut, which is what you want when working with this type of fitting.
  • You can install sharkbite fittings before your pipes run dry in case of an emergency. However, be sure to turn off the water and dry as much of it from the pipes as possible before installing the fitting.
  • Be careful when using a PEX pipe with a sharkbite fitting. This type of pipe tends to collapse if not inserted correctly. 
  • If you want to remove the sharkbite fitting, do not just pull it out. These fittings usually have a release collar. In most fittings, it is usually a tiny plastic ring protruding from the end of the fitting.
  • Use locking clips to make the connection more secure; this is optional—the locking clip clips between the fitting and the release collar.

after all, Are sharkbite fittings reliable? 

sharkbite fittings reliability

It is important to note that sharkbite fittings have been around for about 20 years. Sure, that is a long time, but other types of connections have been around for decades. So are they reliable?

Honestly, I would say the jury is still out on this one. They do have their pros, and the fact that they can be used on any pipe type is fantastic. However, I wouldn’t use them in any connection that is not visible such as behind a wall. 

Also, soldering is still the best option to guarantee the longevity of your pipe connections; these fittings can be a great option for DIY projects such as replacing a water heater. But I wouldn’t recommend them for more serious plumbing projects.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sharkbite fittings Problems

  1. What Is The Failure Rate Of Sharkbite Fittings?

    There is a lot of debate on how reliable sharkbite fittings are. There are those who opine that these fittings have a higher failure rate than other types of fittings. However, there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence pointing to this.
    In most cases, sharkbite failure is caused by poor installation and use of cheap, low-quality pipes and not the sharkbite fittings. These fittings have been known to last for years without failing. And thus, their failure rate depends on installation and pipe used.

  2. Can I Use Sharkbite Fittings For Drinking Water?

    Yes, these fittings are typically used in plumbing systems used for drinking water. The fittings do not have harmful compounds or chemicals and can thus be used safely for drinking water.

  3. How Long Do Sharkbite Fittings Last?

    Contrary to what some plumbers may say, sharkbite fittings have been proven to be more than just short-term fixes. These fittings can last for years, and properly fitted fittings can last for up to 25 years without any issues. 

  4. When Not To Use Sharkbite Fittings?

    These fittings can be used with copper and PEX pipes and, as we have already seen, are pretty durable. However, they are still vulnerable to leaks, especially if not installed correctly. 
    Because of this, I would not recommend using sharkbite fittings in behind the wall connections. Ideally, you want to use these fittings in areas where you can monitor them in case of leaking.
    Also, due to their hefty prices, it may not be practical to use them in every connection in your home. Using these fittings in every connection in your home may cost you a fortune. 


So should you use sharkbite fittings? These fittings are easy to use and can be used on PEX and copper pipes. However, they are pretty costly compared to other types of fittings. But they are very convenient if you can afford a couple of them.

Also, they can last as long as other fittings. The reason for them having many doubters is the fact that they are relatively new. These types of fittings have been around since the early 2000s. Compared to other options like soldering, which has been around for hundreds of years, it is understandable for some old-school plumbers not to trust these fittings. 

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