Last Updated on March 25, 2019 by HVAC
Working with PVC Pipe?
The name PVC comes from the material from which the product was made. It is called “Polyvinyl Chloride”. Generally, when people think about PVC they think of PVC pipe and PVC fittings.
PVC is produced through the chemical polymerization of a compound called vinyl chloride. Since this material is composed of 57% chlorine, it requires less crude oil to produce than many other plastics. This is what differentiates PVC from other plastics on the market, and makes it more environmentally friendly.
Is it safe?
The safety of PVC depends on the type of application that it is being used for. Using PVC pipe for home plumbing is completely safe, and is actually a way that homeowners can save money making repairs in their homes.
In some cases, additives called “plasticizers” are added to the pipes to allow them to operate under stress at sub-zero temperatures. Some products have been known to leach these additives into their surroundings, so the user must be aware of this risk when using an PVC pipe with plasticizers in it.
There are also some risks from producing PVC due to prolonged exposure to the main Monomer in PVC, Vinyl Chloride. In some cases, a rare liver cancer can be contracted. This risk has been almost entirely eliminated since the introduction of the “closed loop” process of polymerization in the 1970’s.
Benefits of Using PVC Pipe
One of the many benefits of using PVC Pipe is that it can be easily replaced by the homeowner. If there is a break or a leak in the pipe, repairing only requires a few simple tools and the ability to follow a few simple instructions. The important thing to remember is to always keep the pipe clean and free of debris and also double or triple check your measurements before cutting.
Other benefits to using PVC piping are the cost savings, quickness to implement, and the sheer breadth of applications for which it can be used. PVC pipe can be used for indoor plumbing and outdoor plumbing, any HVAC project, sprinkler systems, it can be used to make a quick frame for a greenhouse, or even a simple bird feeder.
Instructions for any of these types of products can be found all over the web, or in books at your local craft or hardware store.
PVC Pipe Sizes Explained
PVC Pipe sizes are different than the size the pipe is called. For example, a 1 inch PVC Pipe is actually 1.315 inches in outside diameter, and 1.029 inches in inside diameter. Fittings follow this same pattern, a 1″ fitting has a 1.315 inch opening to accept a 1 inch pipe, which actually measures 1.315 inches in diameter.
The opening in the fitting and the size of the pipe are exactly the same size; this is called an “interference fit” and the two parts are intended to be “welded” together using PVC glue, which is really a solvent that melts the two parts together.
PVC pipe sizes Chart: Schedule 40 Dimensions
PVC pipe sizes Chart: Schedule 40 Dimensions
*Max. Water Pressure at 68 degrees F, Higher temperatures lower the pressure rating.
How to Connect PVC Pipe to PVC Fittings
Connecting PVC Pipe to PVC Fittings can be a simple process, but it can easily turn into a nightmare if you don’t follow the following instructions. These tips that I mostly learned while working remodeling in Los Angeles, Ca will help you make a successful, and leak proof connection between your PVC Pipe and PVC Fitting.
The first step is to get your pipes and fittings together. This means measuring and cutting your pipes to the appropriate size. See our other lens called “How to Cut PVC Pipes” if you need any help with this.
Next, make sure the pipes are clean and dry and free of debris. Then you need to prep the pipe and fitting you are trying to connect. To do this, you must use a PVC pipe primer. This compound is used to soften the surface of the PVC which assists in the creating a leak proof connection between the two pipes.
The next step is to apply cement to the PVC Pipe and PVC Fitting. I recommend using IPE WELD-ON or RED HOT GLUE by T. Christy.
Stir the cement and then apply an even coat to the outside of the PVC Pipe and the inside of the PVC Fitting.
The Final step is to connect the PVC Pipe to the PVC Fitting. Slowly push the two pieces together, making sure that the pipe is fully inserted. Give the pipe a 45 degree turn to evenly distribute the cement. Hold the joint tight for about 15 seconds and then wipe away the excess cement. Now you should have a clean, leak proof joint between your PVC Pipe and PVC Fitting.
Connecting PVC Pipe Recap:
- Make sure your pipe is clean and dry.
- Apply PVC Primer to ensure maximum adhesion.
- Apply a liberal coat of cement to your Pipe and Fitting.
- Join the two pieces and twist 45 degrees.
- Hold Joint in place for 15 seconds
- AND YOU’RE DONE!!
How to Glue PVC Pipe Video
Why read when you can just watch and listen?
This is a quick video from Corefront Calgary on how to join a PVC Pipe to a PVC Fitting. Refer to this article for more detailed steps on how to attach a PVC Pipe to a PVC Fitting.
Connect PVC Pipe to Copper Pipe
Prepping the copper – This process is a little more difficult, and may be best left to the professionals. It also requires some tools that may not be in the average household.
Check below for the list of necessary tools and supplies.
Before starting your project, make sure the pip is clean and dry. If you are working with a running water system, turn off the water and allow it to drain thoroughly.
To Prep the pipe: Wipe the pipe end dry inside and out with a rag. Using an emery cloth, scuff the outside of the copper pipe about 2 inches back from the end. You will also want to do this to the inside of the adapter fitting. Once the pipes are clean and shiny, apply an even coat of flux to the inside of the fitting and the outside of the pipe. Then, connect the two copper pieces and twist 180 degrees to evenly distribute the flux.
To solder the joint shut: Using a propane torch or acetylene torch, begin to heat the joint where the copper pipe meets the copper fitting. Apply an even, steady heat to the joint to heat it all the way around. When the flux starts to boil and melt out of the joint you are ready to apply the solder.
Touch the solder wire to joint where the copper pipe and copper adapter meet. The residual heat should melt the solder and pull it into the joint. If the solder doesn’t melt, continue heating the pipe for 10-15 seconds. Apply an even amount of solder around the entire joint filling it entirely. Make one last pass around the joint to “cap it off”.
Carefully wipe the area clean and then allow time for it to cool.
Preparing the Copper fitting for a PVC Fitting: The way to connect these two different pipes is by using a copper male adapter and a pvc female adapter. Using teflon tape, wrap the threads of the copper male adapter so they are entirely covered. Make 2-3 passes on the threads. Then, you are ready to twist on the PVC female adapter. Tighten it fully with a pipe wrench, and the follow the steps above to attach a PVC Pipe to your PVC Fitting.
- Make sure the pipe and fitting are clean and dry.
- Sand the pipe and fitting so they are shiny.
- Apply Flux to the two pieces.
- Join and twist.
- Heat the joint with a propane/acetylene torch.
- Apply solder when flux begins to boil.
- Clean the joint.
- Wrap threads with teflon tape.
- Join PVC Fitting to Copper Fitting.
- See Above to attach PVC pipe to PVC Fitting.
How to Cut PVC Pipe
Step1: Get the right tools. The Preferred tool is a standard pvc pipe cutter, but a wheeled tubing cutter or a fine toothed saw could also work. If using a saw, be sure to use a miter box to ensure a straight, clean cut.
Step 2: Measure the PVC pipe and mark where you need to make the cut. Mark the pipe all the way around to ensure a straight cut. You should always cut the longest pieces first to avoid wasting any pipe.
Step 3: CUT THE PIPE! You’ve measured and marked the piece, the only thing left to do is make the cut. Be sure to make the cut as square as possible, as this will create a better seem when attaching it.
Step 4: Sand down any burrs or debris from the pipe. Make sure the cut side is smooth. You can use a rasp, a file or even a razor blade to remove any defects in your cut.
Step 5: Get ready to glue and attach your newly cut pipe. Wipe the cut end of the pipe clean and dry. Be sure to leave it free of any lint or dirt. Then you are ready to glue and attach your PVC Pipe.
As a note, you can make the cut on the PVC pipe with a power miter saw. It is important to wear proper protection when doing this: safety goggles, and a dust mask or a respirator. The saw will create a lot of dust and particulate that you will not want to inhale.
Just remember these simple rules:
- Measure carefully & mark all around the pipe.
- Make your cuts straight and clean.
- Wipe and sand down the cut to remove debris.
- Once the cut area is cleaned and prepped, you are ready to attach your pipe to your fitting!
How to Paint PVC Pipe
Prepping for Paint – The most important thing when prepping your PVC pipe for paint is to be sure that the surface of the PVC pipe is clean and free from oil and other contaminants that may otherwise prevent the paint from adhering properly. Wash the pipe clean and dry it thoroughly.
Next, take a fine grit sandpaper and lightly scuff up the surface of the pipe. Creating a rough surface on the area you wish to paint will help the paint adhere better to the pipe.
You may also want to use a primer after this step to ensure that the paint will apply smoothly with a clean finish. This will also help to cover up any of the marks left by the manufacturer that may not be desired.
Painting your PVC Pipe
Ok, so you’ve gotten your pipes prepped and ready to go. What’s next?
Well, paint obviously. Select the type of paint and color you wish to use at your local home improvement store. If you do not use a primer, you may need to use a specialty paint specifically designed to adhere to plastics like PVC. The employees at the store will be able to help you out with that.
Then, begin to apply the paint. You should start with a small patch to test. No sense in wasting a whole day on this if it just plain wont work, right? Once you see that the paint goes on well and there is good adhesion to the PVC pipe, then move on to the rest of the pipes.
Spray-painting generally results in a smoother coat, and a better finished product. There are many brands that make spray cans specifically for painting on PVC items, or you can use any paint spraying machine. This will also help reduce application and drying times.
Quick Tip: Create a jig to hold your PVC Pipes Vertical so you can paint all the way around at once. Just attach some wooden dowels to a piece of 2 x 4 and set the pipes on the dowels.
Painting PVC Pipe:
- Clean PVC Pipes thoroughly, checking for oil and grease.
- Lightly scuff exterior of pipes with fine sandpaper.
- Use a primer to help final coat adhere better.
- Apply paint to a test patch first.
- Paint everything if test is successful (using spray-paint or a spray-gun for better results).
Fixing PVC Pipe
Got a leak? Here’s what to do…
First you need to find the leak. Once you have identified where the leak is, take a hacksaw or any other saw or cutter and make a cut on either side of the leak. This will ensure than any weak pipe around the leak is also discarded. Clean and sand both cuts and remove any burrs. Once you have done this, make sure the area is dry.
Now you are ready to reconnect the pipes…
Take your coupler and do a dry test fit on the pipes. Make sure the coupler is the right size and will connect fully to both pipes. Once you have assured the fit, remove the coupler and prime the two cut piece and the coupler using PVC primer. Then, apply a coat of PVC Cement to the two pipes as well as the coupler. While the cement is still wet, attach the coupler to the two pipes.
Give the Coupler a 1/4 twist and hold it in place for about 15 seconds. This will prevent the joint from slipping and breaking the seal.