How To – Fitting Plastic Pipes

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ImageFitting plastic piping is a standard process for plumbers.  For DIY’ers this can be done pretty simply but it does require some patience and know how.  Obviously we don’t have to tell you that fitting the piping is critical to the success of your project.  If the pipes don’t fit seamlessly and are not glued properly they will leak and could cause thousands of dollars worth of damage.  Read on to see if this is a project you can tackle yourself.  If not just drop us a line and we will get it taken care of for you!

Most areas of the country require your plumbing project to comply with local regulations no matter what size the job is.   This is enforced to safeguard against health hazards and codes vary.  Make sure your area allows plastic pipe to be used. Check with your local building authority to find out about codes, permits and inspections.  WARNING: DOING WORK WITHOUT A PERMIT IS NOT ONLY ILLEGAL, BUT MAY ALSO INVALIDATE YOUR HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE.

Rigid plastic PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) are the most popular types of plastic plumbing pipe. PVC is usually white and ABS is black. Both are typically used only for vents and drains and aren’t made to fit directly together. CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) is another rigid plastic used for hot and cold water supply lines because it can handle normal water pressure loads. There are a number of benefits that plastic piping brings to the table. Compared to copper lines, CPVC is lightweight, easy to work with, doesn’t corrode and may be way cheaper to purchase.

After verifying your codes and purchasing materials cut plastic pipe to length with a hacksaw, or chop saw. After each cut, clean out the small burrs/shavings that remain inside the pipe with a rag or emery cloth. Dry fit the entire run of pipe you’re installing before gluing pipe and fittings together.  We cannot stress this step enough – its very important and critical to the success of the installation.  Double check the drain flow; about 1/4″ per 1′ as a general guide. A fitting that’s glued crooked can sometimes throw off the whole run and/or won’t fit properly with the next piece. Discover these problems during the dry fit rather than after the pipe is glued.

After a sucessful dry fitting you will have to connect the plastic pipes permanently.  Plastic pipe joints are connected with glue that actually melts the plastic and bonds them together.  Once glued you will have a perment connection.  To glue ABS pipe, check that any cut ends are fairly straight. Remove any burrs and clean both pieces with a rag. Apply ABS glue to both the pipe and fitting and push the joints together with a twisting motion to spread the glue. Hold the joints together for a few seconds so they won’t push apart while the fast-drying glue sets. Gluing PVC pipe is a similar process, but has 1 extra step.  Make sure to use a cleaning primer that prepares the plastic before the glue is applied. CPVC pipe also has its own type of glue so be sure to purchase the glue that matches the plastic you’re working with.  Once the joint is primed, apply the glue, push and twist the pipe or fitting and hold them in place for a few seconds.

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