How to Replace a Bulkhead Fitting

What You'll Need
Bulkhead fitting
Cotton swabs
All-purpose cleaner
Clean rags
Tape measure

You will find a bulkhead fitting being used in many things, from a drainage drum to an aquarium. The purpose of the bulkhead fitting is to allow for easy drainage. It can also be used as a distribution point between other pipes. You typically install a flexible pipe to the end of the bulkhead fitting by using a male adapter. Nuts and gaskets are in place to help it do its job, but sometimes they are bought separately. It is possible for a bulkhead fitting to fail and need to be replaced. Follow the simple steps below to effectively replace your own bulkhead fitting.

Step 1 – Know the Fitting

If you have never used a bulkhead fitting before, you should get to know what it is and how it works. They are usually made from plastic (PVC) but can be found made from copper or brass as well—basically any material that is strong and can stand up to high pressure. The body of the bulkhead fitting is attached to the plumbing while the nut is used to hold the fitting together. The rubber seal (gasket) is used to prevent water loss. The easiest way to find the bulkhead fitting is to search the bottom perimeter of what it is you need to replace it on; it is also where water will be leaking from. The bulkhead fitting is inside as well as outside of the container.

Step 2 – Buy a New Fitting

You need to remove the old fitting, but to do so, you need to drain the liquid from the drum or other container that fitting is attached to. Once the container is drained, use the wrench to loosen it by turning the nut to the left. Once the pieces are apart, you can remove both halves of the fitting. Take it to your local plumbing store and choose a fitting that is exactly the same size. Consult the maximum flow chart to make sure you get one that is suitable or better.

Step 3 – Clean the Fitting

Whenever you purchase a new fitting, it is always a good idea to clean it. Oils have a tendency to find their ways on the plastic or metal. Cleaning them ensures they will remain tight. Pour some cleaner into a small glass bowl, and then dip a cotton swab in it. Use the cotton swab to clean the threads on the fitting, and then wipe it down with a clean rag.

Step 4 – Fitting Install

The installation of the bulkhead fitting is very rudimentary. Remove the nut and the gasket from the fitting, using the wrench if you can not turn it by hand. Place the body of the bulkhead fitting inside the container and through the hole. Place the gasket over the threaded end on the outside of the container, followed by the nut. Tighten the nut by hand, and then tighten it further with a wrench. Replace the hose or pipe.