How to Install Quarter Turn Compression Fittings | Solderless Pipe Fitting
During our bathroom renovation we updated the plumbing fittings under the sink with quarter turn compression fittings. It was a simple DIY that took only about a half hour of time over the course of a few days and was a great improvement. The old fittings were incredibly rusted. My hands actually felt cruddy after touching them to turn the water off, which required a lot of cranking both knobs.
The second reason we updated them was to make installing the drywall easier, which is why this simple DIY still took a few days to accomplish even though it only required very little active working time. We removed the old fittings, removed the old drywall, installed the new drywall, then installed the new quarter turn compression fittings.
The great thing about compression valves is that they do not require soldering or sweating, which means that the pipe and the fitting don’t need to be welded together. Since this step isn’t necessary, it makes for an incredibly easy DIY!
Materials for Installing Quarter Turn Compression Fittings
- Emery Cloth
- Compression Fittings
Tools for Installing Quarter Turn Compression Fittings
That’s the original pipe fitting during demo. Before you do any plumbing work, make sure the water is off in your home. Simple projects can become very costly if water damage becomes a player in your DIY.
Remove the existing fitting with a pipe cutter, AKA a tube cutter. You can purchase these for a specific size pipe like we did. This one is for 1/2 in pipes. There are more expensive cutters available that have adjustable sizes. If you plan on doing multiple plumbing projects that option might make more sense for you.
This tool cuts the pipe with a very sharp tooth inside the O. All you need to do is place is around the pipe and continue to turn on the same spot until the pipe falls off.
You’ll notice after we removed the previous large fittings and demo was complete, we were able to install all the new drywall.
The water was off in this bathroom for the entire duration of this project and we kept buckets under all the pipes until we were able to install the new fittings just to be sure. Even slow drips can force you to replace the subfloors. Another thing I want to call out is keeping the return plumbing stuffed with a towels. Since we were actively working when I took these pictures, many of them don’t have the towel in them. This is an important safety measure for work zones. Since we were using the kitchen and other bathrooms in the house while we were making these updates, our plumbing was still functional in other areas of the house. When we demoed this bathroom we created an avenue for toxic waste gas and fumes to escape the previously closed/contained environment. Putting a towel in the plumbing helps keep the gas contained inside the pipes.
When you’re ready to install the new quarter turn compression fitting use emery cloth to clean the outside of the pipe. Notice how it looks like a completely new pipe? Emery cloth is the optimal way to remove rust and crud from the outside of copper pipes. It’s different than sandpaper in that the abrasive is glued to a piece of cloth, rather than paper, so it won’t tear and it will last much longer. The grit on emery paper is also made of a stronger compound than the sand on sandpaper.
Once the pipes are clean of burrs, paint or anything that will prohibit you from getting a clean tight seal, you can assemble the new fitting on the pipes. Start with the nut.
Once the nut is in place, add the compression sleeve (the compression sleeve is the gold ring between the nut and the valve in the picture below), and the fitting.
Once you have the fitting on, you can hand tighten the nut to the fitting to get started. This next part is where you will need two wrenches to tighten the fitting. The first wrench is needed to stabilize the fitting, the second wrench is needed to tighten the nut. If you’re right handed, it’s easiest to stabilize the fitting with your left hand wrench (this hand won’t move), while simultaneously using your right hand to turn the wrench counter-clockwise to tighten the nut.
Now we’re able to turn the water on and off with a quarter turn with two fingers rather than cranking the old valves!