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If you had to make a connection to an existing 1/2" copper water line, which would be buried in a wall (behind a new kitchen sink-base), and soldering was impractical due to proximity of combustibles, would you use a compression fitting or a push-to-connect (Sharkbite) fitting ?

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    Seems like Sharkbite is a lot easier to get leak-free on initial installation, but the compression type relies on no rubber parts for the seal, and seems like a more secure grip on the pipe. Apr 23 at 1:25
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    Why is soldering impracticable? Copper is soldered in all sorts of places. Put barriers there to protect wood, and soak the area with a squirt bottle when you're done. It'll dry out. Apr 23 at 2:19
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    I have never seen a properly soldered plumbing joint fail the others I have.
    – Gil
    Apr 23 at 5:12
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    @Gil - I guess the key there is "properly soldered". Sometimes that's hard to achieve for a DIYer, who only occasionally has to solder copper pipes and when working inside of a wall cavity.
    – SteveSh
    Apr 23 at 11:42
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    I appreciate your thoughts, guys, and no offense, but no one has actually answered my question. Apr 23 at 16:34

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There are several heat or soldering barriers available on the market or you can improvise your own.

Did the plumbing on my son's tiny house and instead of joints in hidden places we decided to run individual lines from the supply point to each point of use. Pipe is cheap compared to the cost, and hassle, of a water leak.

I would solder every time, but I always clean both the pipe and connector and use good flux...

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Alright, if I had to make such a joint, and if supply chain chaos had left me with no solder available.. I'd take a good hard look at the compression fitting.

It's true that a well-executed compression joint requires some degree of finesse or skill. The tube must be nice and round, relatively well-cleaned, free of burrs. It takes an observant eye and steady hand to hold the fitting on-axis with the tubing while tightening the nut so that the ferrule crimps onto the tube squarely and evenly all the way around its perimeter. The biceps need to have a sense for "not too little, not too much" torque when tightening the nut.

All that is sometimes a bit out of reach for a novice. A pro would say "that takes too much time." But when it's done right, the deformation of the metal creates a very reliable seal. If there's no leak upon initial testing, chances are it'll never leak until the metal corrodes away.

But..

I keep a roll of solder tucked away where the supply chain demons can't get to it, and I've soldered joints that were so close to combustibles (wood framing) that a compression fitting would be impossible because there's no room for the wrenches. A piece of scrap 24 gauge sheet metal (ie HVAC ducting) is my go-to heat and flame shield for cramped quarters.

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The one that's most reliable is the one that you have read the manual for and have the skills and tools to install.

I've installed at least 5 Sharbites in my home and none of them leaked. Two of them are behind an access panel for my shower.

I've installed 2 compression fittings and they both leaked very slightly. They were later replaced with Sharbites.

When I first moved into my home there were at least 10 compression fittings and most of them showed signs of slowly leaking water and leaving white residue.

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  • Compression fitting must be properly installed. We used compression fittings on small copper tubing for 2,000 psi hydrogen . They had two ferrules instead of one ( but I forget the name). The connections were occasionally tested for leaks. Apr 25 at 21:10
  • @blacksmith37 -- perhaps a Parker ZoomLock or equivalent? Apr 26 at 3:06
  • @blacksmith37 Right. According to the first paragraph of my answer I should absolutely not be installing 2,000 psi hydrogen in my home because I lack the skills.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26 at 12:23

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