How to be Successful at Plumbing Bulkheads

Are you ready to take your plumbing skills to the next level? Look no further! In this article, we will dive into the world of plumbing bulkheads, breaking down their functions, parts, and installation process. As a seasoned plumber with 15 years of experience, I’ll share my expertise to help you become a pro at plumbing bulkheads. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Bulkhead Fittings

What is a bulkhead fitting?

A bulkhead fitting is designed to enable the drainage of a tank or reservoir through a hole while ensuring a tight seal to avoid leakage. It allows you to direct water flow wherever needed in your plumbing system. For instance, in our farm, we use a bulkhead in our main reservoir to draw water from the bottom of the tank instead of the top, enhancing efficiency.

plumbing bulkheads

We also utilize a different type of bulkhead in the bottom of our ZipRack gutters, which facilitates water accumulation and directs it to a specific point such as a sump.

The Parts of a Bulkhead Fitting

A typical bulkhead fitting consists of three main components. Firstly, there’s the body of the bulkhead, which features interior and exterior threads. Secondly, there is a gasket (sometimes two), which helps create a watertight seal. Lastly, we have the nut, which tightly secures the gasket against the tank, ensuring a reliable seal.

Bulkhead fitting parts

In some cases, such as the ZipRack gutters, the bulkhead fitting may have a barbed, bent end. These specific fittings also include an additional feature – a small screen that prevents debris from clogging the fitting and downstream lines.

plumbing bulkheads

Now that we’ve covered the key components of bulkhead fittings, let’s move on to the installation process and important considerations.

Installing Bulkheads: A Step-by-Step Guide

To help you visualize the installation process, I’ll use an example of a reservoir. Follow along as we walk through the steps.

plumbing bulkheads, tank

Step 1: Cut the Hole

Start by measuring the diameter of the exterior threads on the bulkhead fitting. This measurement will determine the size of the hole saw needed to drill the hole in your reservoir.

Step 2: Fit the Bulkhead into the Hole

You’ll want the hole to fit snugly around the threads of the bulkhead, but not so tight that you can’t insert the fitting. When inserting the bulkhead into the hole, it should slide in fairly easily while hearing the threads pass the reservoir wall. The fit should be snug, not drooping out of the hole. If it’s loose, you may need a larger fitting. Insert the bulkhead from the outside, with the head on the exterior and the threads on the interior.

Step 3: Fit the Gasket and Nut

Place the gasket on the fitting from the inside of the reservoir, sliding it against the wall. Follow it with the nut, taking note that some bulkhead nuts have reverse threads. Tighten the nut against the gasket to create a secure seal. The gasket and nut are crucial for a successful bulkhead installation.

From this point, you can attach various fittings into the internal threads of the bulkhead and continue plumbing out of the reservoir.

The Versatility of Bulkheads

Now that you understand what a bulkhead is and how to install it, let’s explore where you can use this versatile plumbing fitting.

Bulkheads find their utility in various applications, such as:

  • Aquaponics systems
  • Hydroponic setups
  • Aquariums and fish tanks
  • Watershapes and fountains
  • Irrigation systems

The possibilities are endless! With the right knowledge and skills, you can confidently incorporate bulkheads into your plumbing projects.


Congratulations! You’ve gained valuable insights into plumbing bulkheads, from understanding their functions and parts to mastering their installation. Remember, expertise, credibility, and trustworthiness are key to building a successful plumbing career. So keep exploring, learning, and enhancing your skills.

If you have any questions or want more advice on plumbing bulkheads, feel free to reach out. Happy plumbing!

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