Pipe fittings are a special plumbing product that helps connect pipes together and keep them together. What the average Joe does not realize and only a professional plumber would know is that industrial pipe fittings are very different from residential pipe fittings. Here are some of those differences and why it is important for a plumber's apprentice to know them.
Industrial Pipe Fittings Are HUGE
Typically, industrial pipe fittings are enormous. They have to be because they act as conduits for the flow of chemicals, large volumes of water, and/or the production of liquids meant for human consumption. Many of these pipe fittings you can practically slip over your lower arm, if you wanted to carry them that way.
This is vastly different from residential pipe fittings in that residential pipe fittings are rarely larger than a couple of fingers wide. Residential pipe fittings are meant to transport wastewater away from homes and businesses, and channel treated water back. Except for toilet pipes and stacks and sewer lines, residential pipe fittings are much smaller.
Industrial Pipe Fittings Are Made from Multiple Materials
Depending on what the pipe fittings are meant to do and what they will come into contact with, industrial pipe fittings are made from a variety of materials. You might use nylon fittings for areas close to electrical conduits, while galvanized steel fittings are necessary for more corrosive liquids. Polyethylene and polypropylene are good choices in the oil and gas industries. There are also brass and PVC pipe fittings for other applications.
With residential pipe fittings, PVC is the most common material as will last a very long time and it only channels clean water and wastewater. Copper pipes may also be used. Most metal pipes in homes are replaced with PVC.
Industrial Pipe Fittings Are Made to Last Much Longer
Given the jobs that industrial pipes are supposed to do over time, these pipe fittings are made to last much longer than residential fittings. They are much thicker, stronger, and more durable because they have to be. If they were not, they would have to be replaced much more often than residential pipe fittings, and that just does not work for industries.
Why Plumber's Apprentices Should Know This Information
It is your job to know these differences. In your chosen career, you will need to make decisions about how to replace pipe fittings, and what you can and cannot use. You would not want to substitute residential pipe fittings for industrial pipe fittings (and vice versa). It could be a very costly mistake.