Benefits of using Plastic Plumbing Fittings

Posted by mprice 06/11/2017 0 Comment(s) Plumbing,

In this blog we shall have a look at the plastic push-fit pipe connections and the benefits they can offer. Used in heating and cooling plumbing systems and available from manufacturers such as John Guest Speedfit, Polypipe Polyplumb and Wavin.

A brief history of pipes

Pipes have been around for millennia, from the Roman lead piping, through the middle ages with the use of ceramic, lead, steel and wooden piping, all being used in one form or another right up to the Victorian era. It's only in the last hundred years that we've seen radical changes in pipe material with the introduction of copper piping in the 1930's, plastic piping in the 1940's and cast iron the 1960's.


Plastic piping was invented in the 1920's, although not manufactured until the 1940's, and was widely used in the rebuilding of Japan and Germany. The traditional usage of copper piping is still with us today but plastic is now becoming the material of choice with an estimated 50-60% percent of properties having plastic installed.


Why has plastic piping become popular?

The evolution of new manufacturing techniques and higher quality materials offer plastic products with improved functionality and easier fitting than their copper counterparts. The rising price of copper has also been an influential factor.

How do they work?

The push-fit connections seal themselves under water pressure by means of a rubber O-ring and toothed metal grab-ring. The associated pipe is cut to length, a pipe insert is placed in the end of the cut pipe for rigidity, then the pipe is pushed in to the connector and automatically locks in to place. A small twist of the outer connector rings finishes the connection on some brands. Many can be removed by hand and reused while some brands have a twist-lock device that prevents them being accidentally pulled apart.


There are a range of adaptors and connectors to ensure the pipework can be retro-fitted to copper pipe or pipes and threads of different sizes.


What are the benefits?

  • Flexibility - suitable for hot and cold water central heating systems and plastic and copper pipe. A range of converters and adaptors are available.
  • Easy installation - because the pipe is more flexible than copper, longer runs can be fed more easily in to position, for example when feeding pipes through floor joists.
  • No tools required - ideal for amateurs to use because it is easy to work with and requires no special skills or tools.
  • Safer - no soldering, so blow torch free connections giving a safer working environment.
  • Demountable - connections are not only made by a simple push/screw action, they can also be disconnected if required, ideal for confined working spaces.
  • Lighter - the pipe is easier to transport and handle on site.
  • Insulation qualities - prevents condensation from forming on pipes carrying cold water; these same qualities reduce heat loss through pipes carrying hot water.
  • Less leaks - plastic pipes are usually available in longer lengths than copper so less joints are normally required minimising any potential leakage points.
  • Secure joints - push fit joints can provide equal if not better integrity than traditional ones as well as being far quicker to install.
  • Less chance of theft - the high scrap value of copper has led to a rise in thefts of piping from building sites, plastic is far less tempting to the thief!

Other benefits include:

  • One step jointing
  • Exceptional durability
  • Joint integrity
  • Long term performance
  • Corrosion resistant
  • No scale build up
  • Good resistance to freezing
  • Impact resistant
  • Low noise transfer
  • Recyclable


Are there any downsides?

Yes, but not many relative to the benefits; the common 15mm and 22mm diameter copper tube sizes are replicated externally in plastic pipes but because of the thickness of the plastic, this results in a smaller bore. This naturally does reduce water flow slightly. Current regulations also mean the plastic piping cannot be used in certain re-circulating hot water systems and when connecting to a boiler there must be a minimum of one metre of copper pipe before connecting to the plastic system. 

We hope you've found this post interesting but please do let us know if there's anything we should add – we'd love to hear from you.


Please visit our plumbing section for a full range of Plastic Pipe Fittings and Plastic Pipe

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