Commercial environments require fittings suitable for a wide variety of jobs. Fittings of many shapes, sizes and specifications find use in commercial applications such as standard maintenance and repairs or complex systems that required specialized fittings. Due to the large variety of commercial fittings, it is necessary to select a type of fitting that will work well in a given commercial situation.
Uses for Commercial Fittings
Standard pipe fittings are basic components that are used to join segments of copper, steel or plastic piping. Pipe fittings allow pipelines to be extended, wrap around corners and run over and under structures. They are generally used mostly in low pressure systems, making them useful for many commercial applications. Pipe fittings are often threaded, allowing pipes to be screwed into the fitting directly. Slip knot pipe fittings are also available, which use sleeves to connect pipes.
Flare fittings are most often used in commercial systems of ductile copper or soft steel. Flared connections are used to create leak-tight seals that are resistant to pressure. Because of their high reliability, flare fittings are often used for critical connections. Flare fittings are usually rated for use in relatively high pressure systems.
Flareless fittings achieve seals by compressing the connection between pipes or tubes with a ferrule. While flare fittings are the most commonly used types of fitting in U.S. commercial systems, flareless fittings are gaining in popularity due to the minimal amount of preparation need to install them. Flareless fittings are also less susceptible to vibration compared to other fittings, but they must be used in conjunction with thick or medium-walled pipes.
O-ring fittings are designed for use in high pressure commercial systems. These fittings seat an o-ring around the male portion of the fitting, which creates a leak-tight seal when joined with a specially machined female port. O-ring fittings must be installed carefully to ensure that the o-ring inside the fitting is not broken or disturbed from its seating. O-rings do provide advantages against metal-to-metal fittings in that they do not distort metal parts, and adjusting the fitting to the right tightness is generally easier than it is with traditional fittings.
Types of Commercial Fittings
The material with which commercial fittings are manufactured varies depending on the specific system they will be applied to. The most common commercial fitting materials include:
Brass – Brass fittings are often used in small-scale residential and commercial systems. These fittings are commonly used in systems that transport water, chemicals and flammable gases. Brass is popular because it is relatively common, corrosion resistant, and moderately strong. Brass fittings also have excellent heat ductility and moderate cold ductility. The softness of brass helps ensure a tight seal and facilitates easy installation.
Steel – Steel fittings are often selected for use in commercial systems due to their significant tensile strength and low tendency to leak. Depending on the specific commercial application, various types of steel are used in the manufacturing of fittings. For instance, carbon steel alloy is highly resistant to weathering, making it ideal for systems that experience moderate stress regularly. Stainless steel is useful for commercial hydraulic systems, which require fittings that are resistant to corrosion and oxidation.
Plastic – Polymer and plastic fittings are often selected for use in commercial systems because of their low cost and flexibility. The most common material for these fittings is polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC. While these fittings are much less durable than metal fittings, they are suitable for use in low pressure commercial systems. Fluoroelastomer fittings are highly resistant to heat, and thus are often preferable in environments that reach very high temperatures.
Who Needs Commercial Fittings?
To select the proper commercial fittings, one must first have knowledge of the system in which it will be used. The specifications of a system’s pipes or tubes will determine the required standard of fitting. For instance, a system which uses the AN or SAE standard will be incompatible with a JIS or BSP fitting. However, adaptors are available that convert SAE thread ends to Metric, British Parallel and British Tapered threads.
The commercial fittings need to be compatible with whatever fluid is going to be flowing through the system to help protect against damage and leaking. The fluid’s viscosity and chemical makeup should be checked against the capabilities of the fittings. The use of incompatible commercial fittings can cause a system to be inefficient, erratic or dangerous in its performance.
It is also important to select commercial fittings that are within the bounds of any laws or building codes that apply to the structure that houses them. Certain buildings might forbid the use of specific types of pipes and fittings. Commercial buildings are especially likely to encounter this concern, so it is important to thoroughly research any regulations that may apply before commercial fittings are purchased.