What Are Sanitary Plumbing Fittings? (Explained)

Sanitary plumbing fittings are a series of pipes, valves and other elements used in the construction of plumbing systems. They’re often made from metal, plastic or rubber and used in homes, businesses and other buildings. 

Sanitary fittings are largely used as connectors between different types of pipe work (such as water supply lines) but may also be used to join two lengths of similar material together (known as butt-welded joints).

Plumbing Pipe and Fittings, DWV

Sure, here’s the single column Takeaway table:

Takeaways from “What Are Sanitary Plumbing Fittings?”
Sanitary plumbing fittings are specialized connectors used in hygienic applications.
They are designed to minimize contamination and maintain sanitary conditions in fluid transportation.
Common types of sanitary fittings include tri-clamp, I-line, bevel seat, and flange fittings.
Sanitary fittings have a smooth, polished surface finish to prevent bacterial growth and make cleaning easier.
Materials commonly used to make sanitary fittings include stainless steel, polypropylene, PTFE, and silicone.

What Are Sanitary Plumbing Fittings?

Sanitary fittings are used to join two pipes together. These fittings can be made of plastic, copper or steel. They are available in various sizes and shapes to suit your needs.

To ensure effective plumbing, it’s important to know how to run plumbing pipes properly. Our pro tips on running plumbing pipes can help you avoid common mistakes and streamline the process for better results.

1. Pipe Fittings

Pipe fittings are used to connect pipes and tubes of different diameters, shapes, sizes and materials. The choice of pipe fittings depends on your needs. Pipe fittings are available in different shapes, sizes, and materials to suit the application.

Most copper-based piping systems use copper tubing with threaded ends that are joined by using pipe couplings or other types of plumbing fittings such as unions, elbows, tees and crosses. 

Copper piping also comes with barbed ends that can be attached by simply crimping them onto a length of steel wire or plastic tubing which allows you to join two pieces together without soldering or welding them together first (see image below).

Here’s a table based on the semantic of the point “Pipe Fittings”:

Pipe Fittings for Different Applications

Type of Pipe FittingDescriptionSuitable Applications
ElbowUsed to change the direction of a pipelineHVAC systems, water supply systems, sewage systems
TeeUsed to join three pipelines or branches at a 90-degree anglePlumbing systems, air and gas pipelines
CouplingUsed to join two pipelines of the same diameterIrrigation systems, petrochemical industry, mining
UnionSimilar to coupling, but allows for easy disconnection of pipelinesHigh-pressure systems, hydraulic systems
FlangeUsed to join pipelines with equipment or other pipelines, often used for high-pressure systemsOil and gas transmission, chemical processing
ValveUsed to regulate and control the flow of fluids and gases in pipelines, comes in various typesWater treatment systems, HVAC systems, petroleum refining

This table showcases different types of pipe fittings, their descriptions, and the applications where they are commonly used. The table can help readers choose the best pipe fittings for their specific needs.

2. Union

A union is an interconnection between two or more pipes, or between a pipe and a fitting. It is a device that provides a means of joining two pipes together. The union has a male and female end, which are designed to fit together when tightened.

A union must also provide some kind of protection against leakage in case one part of the joint fails and opens up. This can be done by using gaskets made from rubber or other materials that do not allow fluids to pass through them, but it is often simpler to use an elastomeric sealant such as Teflon tape.

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3. Valves

Valves are devices that control the flow of water, gas or air in a pipe. They can also be used to control electricity in a pipe. Valves are mechanical and hydraulic devices that prevent backflow and/or blockage of fluids within a system.

The types of valves include:

Ball valves: These are commonly used for hot water supply lines because they don’t require tools to operate them. They’re also able to withstand higher pressures than other types of valves because they use multiple small balls instead of just one large ball to regulate water flow.

Gate valves: These valves have an opening mechanism similar to that found on gates at amusement parks—hence their name! You simply turn them open or closed with your hands, which makes operating this type easier than some others on this list (but not as easy as ball).

Globe/Gate combination: This is a combination valve featuring both globe-style handles (for manual operation) and gate levers (for automatic operation).

4. Drainage Pipes Fittings

Drainage pipes fittings are used to connect the drainage pipes together. The following are some of the common types of drainage pipes fittings:

Drainage pipe bends: These are used to change direction of flow in a drainage system by bending the pipe at 90 or 45 degrees. They can also be used as joining pieces with one end closed and one open, or vice versa.

Drainage pipe couplings: These allow two sections of straight drainage pipe to be connected easily without using special tools—just push them together until they click into place.

Drainage pipe elbows: These allow you to make a 90 degree turn in your drain line so that it runs perpendicular (at right angles) instead of parallel (alongside).

Right-angle plumbing pipe fittings can be challenging to install properly, but they are essential to efficient plumbing. Our guide on right-angle plumbing pipes can help you understand the importance of using these fittings and how to install them correctly.

5. Threaded Joint Fittings

Threaded fittings are used for joining pipes and other plumbing materials, such as tubing, to each other. 

They are usually made from metal or plastic and have a threaded end that screws into the pipe/tubing to form a watertight seal. The different types of threaded joints include:

Butt joints – These type of fittings are used to join two pieces of pipe together at their ends. To make a butt joint, both ends of the pipe should be cut straight across so they can be fitted tightly together with no gaps between them. 

Once you’ve connected your two pieces together using this type of fitting, you’ll want to use some silicone or Teflon tape on both sides before screwing it all together with your nut-and-washer assembly..

Compression fittings – These type of fittings connect one piece of pipe directly onto another without any kind of gasket being required in between them (like what we saw in our previous example).

The advantage here is that these types can withstand higher pressures than those made using other methods because there aren’t any parts sticking out from either side; however, they’re not suitable if there’s any chance whatsoever that one might come loose over time due to corrosion or poor maintenance..

Here’s a table based on the semantic of the point “Threaded Joint Fittings”:

Types of Threaded Joint Fittings

Type of Threaded JointDescriptionSuitable Applications
NPTNational Pipe Thread, tapered; used for joining pipe and fittings with a sealant or thread tapeWater supply systems, refrigeration systems
BSPTBritish Standard Pipe Thread, tapered; similar to NPT but with a different thread anglePneumatic systems, general purpose plumbing
BSPPBritish Standard Pipe Parallel; used with a sealing washer or o-ring for a watertight sealAgriculture, vacuum lines
Metric ThreadStraight thread used primarily in Europe and AsiaFluid handling systems, hydraulic systems
Compression FittingConsists of a ferrule and nut that compresses onto a pipe or tube to form a seal; eliminates the need for threadingWater supply systems, gas pipelines
Camlock FittingsQuick-connect fittings with male and female ends that lock together with leversChemical handling, transportation of petroleum products

This table showcases the different types of threaded joint fittings, their descriptions, and suitable applications. It can help readers to select the appropriate threaded joint fitting for their specific plumbing requirements.

6. Compression Joint Fittings

Compression fittings are used to join copper or plastic pipes. The compression fitting is a pipe fitting that is used to join copper or plastic pipes. The pipe fitting is secured by a compression nut that is tightened by the use of a wrench.

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7. Grooved Fittings

Grooved fittings are used to join pipes and tubes. They are available in different types and sizes to suit different purposes.

Grooved fittings are used for joining pipes and tubes. They are available in different types and sizes to suit different purposes.

8. Mechanical Joints

Mechanical joints are used to connect pipes and fittings. They are also called mechanical couplings, or simply couplings. Mechanical joints are the most common type of connection for PVC pipe, but they can also be used with CPVC, polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene (PE) pipes.

Major home repairs can be expensive, but there are various payment options available to help finance them. Check out our insights on paying for major home repairs to help decide the best option for you and your budget.

9. Flanged Joints For Pipe And Fitting Connections

Fittings are used to connect two pipes together. Fittings can be used to make the change of direction or change in the direction of flow.

They can also be used for other purposes like reducing the size of a pipe, increasing its pressure rating, etc. 

Some fittings are designed to withstand high pressure and stress while others are not as strong as pipes themselves but they have some special function such as reducing friction losses within the system.

A flanged joint is one type of joint that is commonly used in plumbing systems to join pipe, tubing and other fittings together using bolts or screws so that they form a tight seal when joined under very high pressure conditions up to thousands pounds per square inch (psi).


We hope that you have a better understanding of what sanitary plumbing fittings are and why they’re so important. It’s vital to have the right tools for the job, and these are essential for any plumber.

If you ever find yourself in need of some new fittings or replacement parts then don’t hesitate to contact us! We carry all kinds of different types ranging from compression joints up through threaded connections all at very reasonable prices.

Here’s the markdown language for Further Reading and FAQs sections:

Further Reading

What are Sanitary Fittings and Hygienic Fittings? by L.J. Star Incorporated provides a comprehensive overview of sanitary and hygienic fittings, including common types and applications.

Sanitary Fittings: A Brief Introduction by Simple Valves covers the basics of sanitary fittings, including their use in food processing and pharmaceutical industries.

Plumbing and Sanitary Items: A Beginner’s Guide by The Constructor provides an in-depth look at the various parts of plumbing and sanitary systems, including fittings and components.


What are sanitary plumbing fittings?

Sanitary plumbing fittings are specialized connectors used in plumbing systems in hygienic applications such as food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. They are designed to minimize contamination and maintain sanitary conditions in processing and transporting fluids.

What are common types of sanitary plumbing fittings?

Common types of sanitary plumbing fittings include tri-clamp, I-line, bevel seat, and flange fittings. Tri-clamp fittings, also known as tri-clover fittings, are the most widely used type.

How are sanitary plumbing fittings different from regular plumbing fittings?

Sanitary plumbing fittings are designed with a smooth, polished surface finish to prevent bacteria growth and make cleaning easier. They are also made from materials that are resistant to corrosion and chemical damage.

What materials are sanitary plumbing fittings commonly made from?

Sanitary plumbing fittings can be made from various materials, including stainless steel, polypropylene, PTFE, and silicone. Stainless steel is the most common material used in food and beverage industries due to its high corrosion resistance and durability.

Where are sanitary plumbing fittings used?

Sanitary plumbing fittings are commonly used in industries that require sterile or hygienic processing and transportation of fluids, such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries. They are also increasingly used in the medical and dental fields.