Plumbing fittings are those parts that we use when we want to connect different pipes or sections of tubing. They come in many different types, and they are usually differentiated by their function, the type of connection they perform, and the materials that they are made of. For instance, we can find plumbing fittings made of aluminum, brass, steel, or copper. Bell and spigot cast iron pipe and plumbing fittings were very popular as well, but it is becoming obsolete. Today, we are going to look at the 12 main types of plumbing fittings according to the function they serve.

multiple plumbing fittings

12 Types of Plumbing Fittings Grouped by Function

1. Cap

As the name suggests, the cap type of fitting is used to cover a pipe. This is a female fitting, which means that it can only be attached to a male type of connection. In order to attach it, you can use a solvent, weld, solder, or thread. You can find caps made of plastic, rubber, steel, or copper.

2. Mechanical Coupling or Sleeve

The purpose of a sleeve fitting is to connect two pipes by using a screw, an anchor, or any other type of mechanical fastener. This fitting is easy and fast to install and is usually made of rubber and can be jacketed with steel or stainless steel.

Transition coupling

3. Adaptor

The role of an adaptor is to connect two pipes that were not originally the same type. Moreover, if you have pipes that have a plain end, you can use an adaptor to either turn them male or female, according to your needs. So, adaptors can be either male or female. If they are male, they contain male threads on one end, and if they are female, they come with female threads. The other end will be plain in order for you to weld it, glue it, or solder it to the end of the pipe you need.

Wrot Copper Coupling4. Coupling

If you have two pipes of the same type and same diameter, you can connect them by using a coupling.


5. Union

A union is quite similar to a coupling, besides the fact that we can remove it from the position we’ve placed it in whenever we want. Once you use a coupling, you cannot remove it unless you cut it out. Unions can have both male and female threads.

6. Plug

A plug resembles a cap. However, the difference between these two plumbing fittings is that the plug contains male threads, as opposed to the cap which contains female ones. Otherwise, they basically serve the same purpose, which is to cover a pipe opening.

7. Elbow

As you were probably able to tell from the name, an elbow fitting looks like an elbow at different degrees. For instance, you can find 22.5 degree, 45 degree, and even 90 degree elbows. Their purpose is to change the direction of different pipes, according to what you need. Most of them have female threads, and they also come in different materials.

pile of plumbing fittings called elbows

8. Cross

This type of plumbing fitting has 4 openings in 4 different directions, which is why it resembles a cross. You can use it to connect 4 pipes, and it either comes with three outlets and one inlet, or three inlets and one outlet.

9. Tee

A tee has two outlets and one inlet and it is typically more sturdy than a cross fitting. It is shaped like a “T”, with the two outlets at a 90 degree angle from the inlet. Naturally, you can only connect three pipes to a tee, but the fluid flow will be equal. Tees come in different sizes and materials and they can be reducing on the run or on the branch.

10. Wye

The wye also connects three pipes, but in an intersection shaped like a “Y” set at a 45 degree angle. Wyes are used to change elevations using fittings to straighten the piping run or to pick up branch waste or water lines.

11. Reducer

The second of the two main types of reduction plumbing fittings is actually called the reducer. This fitting usually reduces the size of the flow by making it smaller. You can find two types of reducers on the market, either concentric or eccentric.

Summing Everything Up

We hope our short yet comprehensive guide to the 11 main types of plumbing fittings you can use has provided you with the information you were hoping for. As we’ve already mentioned above, there are many other types of plumbing fittings, according to how you want to group them. Consequently, if you’re thinking in terms of material, you can have copper plumbing fittings, brass plumbing fittings, and even PVC plumbing fittings. If you were to look at the type of connection they form, you would encounter shark bite plumbing fittings, threaded, flange, or end fittings.

The bottom line is that no matter the issue you have with your plumbing, you will probably find a fitting that can help you take care of it. Still, we would like to stress once again that this guide aims to provide you with some basic information about plumbing fittings. Consequently, it should not be taken as an encouragement to take matters into your own hands and try to fix your plumbing issues. In order to get the best results and avoid any risks, we recommend calling a professional plumber who can take care of the problem for you.

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