Lightweight, durable, versatile and affordable, PVC is wonderful to work with. Used for a wide variety of plumbing tasks around your home and garden, it is the common mode of transportation for hot and cold potable water, as well as sewer/drainage systems. you’ll often find it in do-it-yourself plumbing projects, and you may later find yourself turning to it for other “creative” home uses. Learning how to join PVC pipe correctly can save you a lot of plumbing hassle in the future, so we’re going to get to the nitty-gritty here in this tutorial. what you’ll need
- pvc or cpvc pipe & fittings
- t-coupling/mission coupling if you are splicing existing pipes
- hacksaw, handsaw, or pipe cutter
- miter box (if having trouble cutting a straight line)
- deburring tool/knife
- pipe primer
- pipe cement
How do I know what type of pipe I need: cpvc/pvc?
pvc and cpvc are two of the most common types of pvc found at your local hardware store. White PVC pipe is most often found in exterior applications such as sprinkler systems. beige toned cpvc is approved by most residential building codes for hot/cold water applications as well as sprinklers.
Reading: How to connect pvc plumbing pipes
finding the ‘right’ glue
pvc pipes and fittings are cemented together, but these cements provide more than “adhesion”. Liquid PVC cements actually melt the surface layer of plastics and bond them together in a process known as solvent welding. Done correctly, solvent welded joints are stronger than solid pipe. Because of this, different PVC plastics require different solvent cements specifically formulated for use with that material. Color-coded, look for application-specific clear, blue, or gray cements for PVC. CPVC cement is typically orange. multi-purpose primer is purple in color and is used to clean the pipe. (Building inspectors look for these colors to identify the proper cement/process.)
pvc pipe joint
Now that you’ve identified everything you need, you can begin the splicing process, which is actually quite simple.
- read the instructions on the cement. most adhesives only work within a particular temperature/humidity range. (Rest assured, winter pipe breaks can still be fixed with a heat lamp or space heater for temperature control.) take into account the requirements of ventilation, cleaning and safety recommendations. also carefully check the cement drying times to know when the pipes are ready for (re)use.
- cut the pipes.cut the pipes to the correct length with a hacksaw hacksaw, handsaw, or pipe cutter, leaving about ½ inch for couplings between pipes. (Avoid power saws, which melt plastic.) take care to cut square/straight to ensure a good fit.
- prepare pipes.carefully remove burrs with a utility knife/deburring tool. check for damage while wiping to remove any dirt or dust.
- attach the couplings.attach the plastic couplings to the other two gaskets. these will be needed when connecting to existing pipes.
- try on.While the pipes are dry or stripped, test fit them together to ensure a proper fit. mark them with a permanent marker to help you line them up after glue application.
- primer.apply purple primer to the outside end of the pipe and the inside of the coupling / accessories used with the primer can. do not skip this step.
- glue/cement.wait 10 seconds and then apply the appropriate cement for your application. make sure there are no bare areas, then immediately glue down the pipe/fittings, pressing with a slight twist to ensure even distribution of the cement. press and hold briefly to set.
- problems? your first try might not go perfectly. you will get an opportunity to join pvc pipes. if they don’t seat properly, stop. do not force or try to separate and re-glue them. discard the fixture and try again to avoid a wet mess later when the water supply is restored.
Now that you know how to handle PVC, build your own PVC gutter cleaner and maybe some PVC water cannons to keep the kids out of your hair on your next project!
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