Sanitary Tee vs. Wye: Everything You Need To Know

sanitary tee vs wye

Sanitary Tee and Wye are parts of the drain vent system. If you are doing plumbing works, you may have to use them in some sort. However, they look almost similar, and this confuses a lot of people. Especially to choose the one that best fits your drain system.

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Though they look almost similar, they’re not the same at all. They have different uses and advantages. So it is better if you get a better idea of the sanitary tee vs. the wye.

What is a Sanitary Tee in Plumbing?

What is a Sanitary Tee in Plumbing

A Sanitary tee refers to a plumbing fitting used to drain water and vent the plumbing system. It connects the branch line to a vertical line. If you view the tee from the side, you will see a downward sweep, which is molded into the tee. It helps liquids to go toward the drain. ABS plastic, copper or cast iron, sanitary tees are made of all types.

What is a Wye in Plumbing?

What is a Wye

Wye is a fitting solution that has three openings connected to each other (at a 45° angle). It is Y-shaped and helps join three pipelines together. A wye is used to connect horizontally to vertical planes.

Difference Between Sanitary Tee and Wye

A sanitary tee is shaped like the letter ‘T’, while a Wye is similar to ‘Y’. Sanitary tee is used for horizontal to vertical transition, and Wye is used for combining 2 lines into one horizontal line to maintain a flow without causing clogging.

Both of these fittings have different usage and can not be switched. So before doing plumbing work, make sure that you have a good understanding of using a sanitary tee and a wye.

Usage of a Sanitary Tee

A sanitary tee has its own benefits and place. Following are some situations when you should use a Sanitary tee.

  • When you’re joining a horizontal line, you should use a sanitary tee. Such as a waste arm to a vertical riser.
  • Sometimes, a sanitary tee is also used in place of a vent tee when plumbing vent lines. It helps to maintain the proper flow.
  • When you are using a sanitary tee, you should not lay it on its back with a side opening because this will result in an upstream splash of waste when it hits the bottom of the horizontal pipe. This will create clogging inside the line.

Usage of a Wye

Wye joints three pipes at a 45° angle. So, you need to know only when you can use it. Following are some examples.

  • Wye is used to connect a horizontal drainpipe to a vertical one. It reduces the entrained solid at the junction.
  • It is also used to split branch lines. With a Wye, a line can be divided into two equal lines in two different directions.
  • A special kind of Wye is used for help insertion of pigging that keeps the pipes clear and maintains the flow.

How to Install a Sanitary Tee And Wye Drain

How to Install a Sanitary Tee And Wye Drain

Installing a sanitary tee and wye drain, or any multi-outlet drainage fitting requires basic plumbing knowledge. Once you know the basics, it is easy to install this kind of piping system without hiring outside assistance.

Step 01: Measure and Mark

If possible, use an old wrench to tighten both ends of the pipe. This makes cutting easier as the pipes won’t be crooked afterward. If they are already installed directly under floor joists or ceiling beams, make sure you have access to them before cutting.

Use duct tape for marking off where it needs to be cut. The tapes should remain for 48 hours before removal so that marks stay visible until then even if they fade away over time.

Step 02: Cut the Pipes

Place the sanitary tee or wye fitting on a flat surface, hold it steady by placing your foot against one side and using another wrench to tighten the other end. Use a tubing cutter with two wheels in it for faster and straighter cuts and keep them slightly loose before tightening both ends of the pipe together.

This way, you won’t bend up the pipes when using pliers which are not designed for cutting materials like PVC and ABS anyway.

Step 03: Assemble Fittings

It is easier to assemble fittings if you use two wrenches at once, one for each side of the tee or fitting’s connection point. Keep them slightly loose before tightening with both wrenches until all parts are properly locked in place.

You can also use some lubricant on the bolts to make it easier and prevent cracking, especially on plastic materials like PVC.

Step 04: Connect Drain Lines

Connect the drain line to sanitary tee or wye fitting by using a second wrench for loosening up both sides of the tee or another multi-outlet drainage fitting before connecting it with pipes, making sure there are no leaks when you install all parts together.

Also, consider if water pressure is adequate for the connection point or not because you might need an expansion tank in this case to avoid damage by high water pressure. If possible, keep all connections airtight to prevent leakage.

When to Use a Wye or Sanitary Tee

When to Use a Wye or Sanitary Tee

Wye is used to connect a horizontal drainpipe to a vertical one. A Sanitary tee is also used in place of a vent tee when plumbing vent lines. It helps maintain the proper flow.

When using a sanitary tee, don’t lay it on its back with a side opening because this will result in an upstream splash of waste which creates clogging inside the line.

When using wye, it is used to split branch lines. With a wye, the line can be divided into two equal lines in two different directions. Wye is used to help insertion of pigging that keeps pipes clear and maintains the flow.

Frequently Asked Questions on Sanitary Tee vs. Wye

Q 1: What is a Sanitary Combo?

Ans: It is a combination of the wye and ⅛ bend and is used as a single fitting.

Q 2: Can I use a Wye Horizontally?

Ans: Wye is only used for going from the horizontal to the vertical plane. If you use them horizontally, they will be exposed to clogging.

Q 3: Can I Use Wye for Venting?

Ans: Wye can be used on the horizontal venting of the shower, tub, or lav. Sometimes, it is required for venting if someone wants to use that as a drain, if in any case.

Q 4: What is a Double Sanitary Tee?

Ans: A double sanitary is more like a cross but different than supply cross fittings. It was used for connecting drains of fixtures that are side by side, but at present, it is prohibited, and a double fitting cross is required to minimize waste.

Q 5: Can you lay Sanitary Tee on its side?

Ans: No, you can not do that. This is due to the flow restriction.

Best Sanitary Tee

To help you choose the right sanitary tee from the many options on the market, here is our top pick. You can pick one of them if you want the best sanitary tee.

NIBCO – K09825CA C4811

The NIBCO K09825CA Sanitary Tee is designed for Drain, Waste and Vent (DWV). The fitting features three openings that connect to and branch three pipes: two along the main run, and one at a 90-degree angle from its center.

The dimensions of Tees are A x B x C. “A” and “B” represent the main runs of the fitting and “C” represents the branch. It can be used to connect metals like steel, copper, and cast iron with transition fittings.

The NIBCO 4811 Tee fitting is entirely made of PVC, which is resistant to corrosion and can be used in a variety of commercial and residential systems. The smooth interior surface minimizes friction and prevents buildup. This allows for more flow than other materials.

Because it is entirely made of PVC, the NIBCO 4811 Tee fitting has superior flow characteristics to metal fittings. It also meets ASTM quality assurance standards.

Charlotte Pipe 4″ Sanitary Tee Pipe Fitting

Charlotte Pipe, a trusted manufacturer of plumbing systems provides the nation’s top makers with plastic and cast iron pipe and fittings.

In fact, they are the only company to offer a complete line of cast iron, PVC, CPVC ABS FlowGuard Gold, and ChemDrain pipes for residential or commercial applications.

All of their products are proudly manufactured in the USA, meeting all ASTM requirements.

PVC fittings can be installed quickly, are lightweight, and have smooth interior walls. They are intended for domestic water applications.

Schedule 80 fittings and pipes are designed for pressure applications in which the temperature does not rise above 140 degrees F.

Schedule 80 is thicker than schedule 40 so the rating is higher. It is durable and assembles easily, but needs a primer, as well as solvent cement to be installed.

Charlotte Pipe manufactures its products by keeping in mind the performance standards and needs of its customers.

Best Sanitary Wye

To help you narrow down your selection of sanitary wye from the many options available on the market, we have listed our top picks. In the case of choosing the best sanitary wye, you can pick one of them


NIBCO offers sanitary PVC fittings in either black or white. The Y-shaped fitting connects three pipes to the main run, and two at a 45-degree angle for enhanced flow.

A wide variety of sizes are available to accommodate all your needs. Non-pressure fittings can be used in residential or commercial systems that include DWV, sewer, venting systems. As long as they have a smooth bore that will accept the pipe.

Even though steel may be cheaper than PVC it is not resistant to corrosion and chemicals which makes PVC your best choice for installation over time.

Where water comes into contact with metal hardware plumbing parts inside or outside of buildings. Because this type is open, system components are continuously exposed to environmental conditions causing corrosion.

Steel fittings are less likely to fail in moist, acidic, or corrosive surroundings. PVC is recyclable and is a rapidly renewable, biodegradable polymer that can be infinitely recycled without any loss of quality, so it’s eco-friendly too.

Charlotte Pipe PVC006001400HA 4″ Wye Pipe Fitting

The Charlotte Pipe Company is the only company in the industry that holds expertise in plastic pipes and fittings. They are also known for their excellent customer service. With PVC-DWV pipes, they offer a variety of water systems including gravity-fed drain line systems.

This durable wye-style finish is made from top-quality plastic that is sturdy and resistant to impact, fatigue, and extreme temperatures. It comes in white color for an appealing look and is easily paintable and stainable.

The Charlotte Pipe Company is known for producing wyes that are of superior quality at reasonable prices.

The Best Sanitary Wye is designed to create an easy transition between different kinds of materials such as PVC and ABS. It is suitable for the water system and features a smooth interior wall that ensures quiet flow.


These terms are hard to remember. So, when you have everything ready for work, you better read the article again. Because if you use a sanitary tee in place of a wye you will have a huge mess.

So be careful and one more thing you should keep in mind. There are specific codes and standards under the USA Plumbing Authority on which part can be used where.

This is for keeping the wastage at a minimum rate. And you must follow them. Search on google for any assistance.

Sanitary Tee vs. Wye: Everything You Need To Know
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