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What is a Pipe Tee?

B. Turner
B. Turner

A pipe tee is a type of fitting or connector used to join two or more plumbing pipes. These fittings join the two pipes or tubes at a 90-degree angle, and get their name from their T-shaped appearance. The pipe tee is one of the most versatile of all plumbing connectors, and is widely used in residential, commercial, and industrial applications.

Using a pipe tee, a plumber is able to combine the flow of two separate pipes into a single line. He may also divide a single supply line so that it flows to two different areas. For example, a pipe tee can be used at the main water supply line in a home to direct some water to the bathroom and some to the kitchen. It may also be used in the home's wastewater system, where it joins two separate sewer lines into a single main drain line that can tie into a municipal drainage pipe. In industrial applications, a pipe tee can join two pipes carrying different liquids, which blends the two materials into a single stream as they flow to their final destination.

Pipe fittings.
Pipe fittings.

Most plumbers use pipe tees that match the material of the surrounding pipes. For example, a steel pipe tee connects steel pipes or tubes, while a plastic tee connects two plastic tubes. Manufacturers also produce pipe tees using brass, copper, and composite materials to suit the needs of different applications.

A standard pipe tee joins pipes of the same diameter, though some may work with reducing connectors. When the pipe tee includes a reducer, it can be used to join pipes of different diameters to one another. The tee must be chosen carefully to fit each pipe, and also to meet the project requirements for temperature and corrosion resistance. The diameter and wall thickness of the tee must match pressure and flow requirements. Local plumbing codes often specify the types of fittings that should be used on different types of projects to ensure a safe and effective installation.

A pipe tee.
A pipe tee.

Plumbers join pipe tees to surrounding pipes using a variety of methods. Many metal pipes and connectors are threaded, and can be screwed together by hand or with a wrench. When using threaded pipe tees, users should take care to choose appropriate male or female tees based on the project. Others require the use of special glue or solvent, while some are welded for a long-lasting bond. Metal fasteners, or couplings, also offer an effective way to join pipes and fittings.

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