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I want to tap into a 1/2 inch copper pipe for a fridge line.

I'm trying to choose between a saddle valve, or cutting the pipe and installing a quarter turn shutoff valve with a quarter inch compression fitting for the line.

My question is about reliability or any other considerations that would not be obvious to someone who like me has little experience. I can easily install either one and I'm sure they will both work fine at first. The saddle valve seems a little hacky. But it costs less and requires less work to install. If it's equally reliable I may as well use that. I'd like to hear the voice of experience on these.

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    Might not matter for your application, but saddle valves are very low flow, relative to a real valve. Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:09
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate good comment. I'm converting a K-cup machine to plumbed (rather than buy the $1000 office version) and flow through a 1/4 inch hose is far more than enough. However, your comment made me think. I could put a tee in the kitchen and serve the espresso machine and install a mini water dispenser all off the same line. Using the better valve will allow future flexibility, multi devices to work at the same time.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:23
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    @crip659 forgive a question from someone with zero farm experience ... would you really notice a small drip out of a valve feeding a cattle bowl in a location with no floor?
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:26
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    @jay613 There was a cement floor and the bowls where close to the feeders. The saddle fitting was also heavy duty, 3/8 u-bolt and more than 1/2 inch thick cast metal saddle, might of had something to do with them not leaking
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:41
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    In some jurisdictions saddle valves are illegal (I've heard) for good reason...they fail. They are for quick and dirty jobs. I replaced both of mine (one for the ice-maker, one for the whole house humidifier). Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 5:44

2 Answers 2

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If you want to use it as a valve then the top one is not the right kind.

It is a misnomer called saddle valve but it is not meant to be used as a valve.

It is to be used as one time pipe penetration and not to be turned anymore.

For the bottom kind which is a real valve I suggest you use shark bite connection types. There is no soldering involved.

To be clear, the saddle valve is not a valve. You can not control the water flow, you can not turnt it off/on.

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  • Do you just mean the valve cannot be used routinely? Or literally can never be operated again not even twice? My intention would be to use it once every few years at most, hopefully not even that ... only when the appliance needs to be replaced or if the tube feeding it becomes damaged.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:25
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    Well if the next time I need to use it is in say 8 years when my appliance has failed, and while I'm dealing with not having a fridge I suddenly also have to deal with a leaking valve ... that would be plenty of reason to spend the extra time and money on the tee now.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:32
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    @jay613 To be clear, the saddle valve is not a valve. You can not control the water flow, you can not turnt it off/on.
    – Traveler
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:42
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    There's a good point here. When you turn the handle to "turn the valve on", you drive the needle into the connecting pipe. At best, you'll get slow flow around the needle (since it doesn't really seal), until you "turn the valve off" at which point the needle is retracted from the hole and you get whatever "full flow" is. If you "turn the valve on" again, you put the needle back in the hole, but there's nothing to actually seal it, and you'll still have a leak.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 18:19
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    While my question focused on one possible weakness, reliability, this answer and comments teach me the saddle valve is functionally unsuitable for what I want. Thank you.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 13, 2022 at 17:19
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They are quick and easy to install and don't require any soldering.

They are not reliable as they always leak. So down the road someone will be very unhappy.

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    Dunno about "always", but there have certainly been many reports of saddle valves eventually leaking, and they're widely considered a Bad Idea, used by appliance installers because they require so little skill or time and by the time there's a problem they'll be long gone. I'm not an authority on compression fittings, and I'm not sure how much flow restriction that would create in the pipe it was inserted into; I'd use a soldered-in valve but not everyone knows how to sweat pipe or wants to call a plumber to do so.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:11
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    @keshlam compression fittings operate on the outside of the pipe and don't restrict flow. If I cut the pipe and I'm working over my head surrounded by wood, and bearing in mind I'm not a pro ... I would not opt for solder.
    – jay613
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 19:30
  • OK. As I say, haven't worked with compression fittings. If you do work with solder, the trigger-start/release-to-stop torches make the process MUCH easier, as does a bit of practice on scraps before doing the real joint.
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 20:46

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