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To begin, let us have a look at what PVC stands for. Polyvinyl chloride, which is a thermoplastic and is well-known as PVC piping that is used in a variety of applications from residential to industrial use as well as in art and crafts. The material is cost-effective and easy to cut and can be joined together to make a permanent bond in only minutes. To make this bond, a PVC pipe seal is required so you will have to learn how to connect PVC pipe by using PVC pipe glue.
Table of Contents
Types of PVC Pipe Glue
There are three main types of PVC, that all generally fall under the PVC heading for plastic piping. The first one is polyvinyl chloride, the second is chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) and these two are similar in make-up.
The difference is in how they react to temperatures, the CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) can withstand much higher temperatures than PVC (polyvinyl chloride), is used more for commercial applications, and is more expensive. Two more specialized or modified PVC products fall under PVC piping, PVC-U, which is unplasticized PVC, PVC-O that enhances the benefits of PVC-U, and PVC-High which is a high impact grade option.
The last type is called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and has a completely different composition. This type of plastic is an opaque thermoplastic polymer and is commonly used in injection molding. Many use the term PVC glue, which could include superglue, however, to permanently bond two pieces of PVC materials, you need what is called cement. A PVC cement creates a chemical bond and merges the two components, whereas glue simply forms a bond.
You can use glue on PVC; however, this would be more for arts and crafts or less demanding applications.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Cement
This cement is made for PVC piping that falls under 40 and 80 schedules. The lower schedule has thinner walls and can only withstand lower water pressures, while the schedule 80 is thicker and can be used in industrial applications. When applied to the piping, the surface softens and will then harden from a permanent joint or bond. Applications include drains and plumbing pipes, cable insulation amongst others.
Color-Coded PVC Cement
When you are shopping for PVC cement, you might notice that products are labeled in various colors. The type of application determines the correct cement type you need. For example, the transition cement is labeled green, blue labels are for quick setting cement, aqua blue can be used in water or where there are damp conditions and orange is for cold weather uses. Yellow is a one-step cement that does not require a primer for the CPVC cement.
It is, however, always better to apply a primer, which we will be discussing further in this article.
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Cement
ABS cement is specially formulated to work on ABS piping. The cement cannot be used on the other PVC types. The ABS piping is used a lot for drain, waste, and vent applications, also known as DWV. The correct type of cement you use is important, as you do not want pipe joints to weaken or burst.
Transition or general-purpose cement can be used to bond different PVC piping, for example, PVC to ABS. The different pipes are joined without creating an intense chemical reaction that does not produce toxic fumes.
CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) Cement
Offering higher performance than the cheaper PVC, CPVC cement will also need to offer more for it to be effective, due to the temperature variations. You will notice that products will display CPVC on the label.
When purchasing, always take note of the consistency, because if it has thickened, this means something is not right and it will not bond properly.
How to Glue PVC
Since PVC is a lightweight, yet durable material, it is commonly used for irrigation, plumbing as well as sewage purposes. The pipes used, are generally white or off-white, and PVC joints are created using a solvent cement or couplings, depending on the materials used and applications. When it comes to residential use, PVC drain pipes are common as they are affordable and easy to use. You should be able to easily repair damaged pipes, but there are times when a piece of piping needs to be replaced.
When it comes to gluing PVC, you will need a special primer and cement for the job. The solvent cement will create a permanent bond as it forms a chemical reaction that melts the surface and rehardens, merging or ‘welding’ the two PVC pieces together. This will ensure an airtight seal that should be leakproof.
Do you need a primer when applying a PVC pipe seal? In most cases, a primer is necessary before using the PVC pipe cement. The primer prepares the surface, cleans it, and helps to enhance the bond that takes place. In some cases, a mechanical coupling is needed, instead of the PVC pipe cement. For example, when connecting a PVC and ABS plastic pipe.
A medium body primer is great for schedule 40 PVC piping, however, for larger diameter schedule 40 fittings, CPVC piping, as well as for schedule 80 PVC piping, a heavy-duty body primer is recommended.
When gluing PVC joints, the primer is applied externally around the edge of the PVC pipe and also on the inner edge of the PVC joint or fitting. After a few seconds, the PVC pipe cement is applied in the same manner. The pipe is then placed into the fitting and the cement will then be left to fuse and bond. There are two different types, mainly a medium and heavy body primer. The heavy body primer is best used for industrial purposes and costs more.
The PVC primers can be purchased in two colors, clear as well as purple. The purple primer is used as a type of marker, as you can see the purple color. This is useful when it comes to inspections for industrial applications, as a visual check is much easier and quicker to do. Clear primers are best for residential use, where you want things to look neat and tidy. Certain solvent cement brands also offer various options, and some do not require the use of solvents. For example, the Oatey brand Hot Medium Blue Lava PVC Cement and the Rain-R-Shine Medium Blue PVC Cement.
A Summary of PVC Types and Primers
In the table below, you can see a brief summary of the different types of PVC that you may need to glue, and whether a primer is necessary or not.
|Type of PVC||Can you use Primer?|
|PVC (polyvinyl chloride)||✔|
|CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride)||✔|
How to Connect PVC Pipe
In some cases, simple repairs to PVC piping will not be sufficient and you must replace a section. When dealing with water pipes, you must switch the water off at the mains before you begin any repairs. The first steps require you to measure and cut the pipe to the correct specifications. Dry fitting is always recommended before moving onto the actual gluing PVC pipe process.
So, let us see how to glue PVC pipe by following these simple steps.
Measure and Cut the PVC Pipe
Whenever you do any type of repair job around the house, gathering all your tools and materials will make things easier and save you time. A hardware store should have pre-cut PVC pieces, or you can purchase and cut a piece at home yourself.
Some of the tools required are as follows:
- PVC pipe
- Cutter: this could be a saw, otherwise, a pipe cutter
- Measuring tape
- Something to hold the pipe while cutting, you can use a vice if you have one
- Sandpaper 80-grit
You will need to remove the damaged area, cut about an inch on either side of the damaged pipe with the cutter. Measure what you will need to replace the damaged pipe and mark your new piping with a felt tip pen or pencil. Place your piping into the vice and line up your marked area and cut the correct size.
Use sandpaper to smooth the rough cut edges.
Dry Fitting the PVC Pieces
To prevent mistakes and provide accuracy, dry-fitting your PVC pieces is recommended. This step will help ensure correct measurements and it is best to do this before you permanently bond the PVC pieces. You can make adjustments, get new PVC joints if needed and get everything looking like you want it to. You can also mark spots where PVC pieces must align and number the different pieces, if needed, to fit all pieces in their correct positions. Once everything perfectly fits, you can pull things apart and start gluing.
When gluing PVC, the cement gives off an odor and, if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes, it can cause harm. So, must follow a few safeguards before you begin. Make sure you wear gloves, eye goggles, and a mask respirator. The gloves should be nitrile gloves that can handle abrasive chemicals. Have all your PVC joints and pipes ready and cover your work area to protect surfaces. Have your primer and cement ready for use.
You can also have some paper towels or rags ready to help with any messes or spills that might occur.
Gluing PVC Pipe
Make sure that you have chosen the correct primer and cement for the job at hand. The different types are easily recognized by color codes and by reading the label packaging. For example, some types of cement glue can withstand higher temperatures than others and others can help bond different plastics.
Your next step is to prime the PVC surface, apply on the outside of the pipe, and then on the inner edge of the fitting. We have mentioned the different primers available, if you do use the purple primer, be aware that it can stain surfaces. The primer is quite thin, so be careful when handling it. Attached inside the primer lid, you should have an attached primer brush. Lift out and run across the rim to remove the excess primer and apply to your surface.
Your pipes should be marked, so apply the primer according to the marked measurements, from the end of the pipe to the visible mark. Apply only thin layers of primer so that it does not drip or pool. The primer dries quite fast and only needs a few seconds, so you do not have to wait long to apply the cement. Smear cement onto the same areas where the primer was applied.
Make sure the surface is covered thoroughly in one coat.
Assembly and Drying
Connect the two pieces, sliding the pipe into the fitting, and adjust according to your marked measurements. Hold the pieces firmly for about 10 to 30 seconds so that everything stays in place. Wipe any excess cement away. Before handling the piece, it is best to wait about 15 minutes and in two hours it should be dry and fused completely.
Safety Requirements When Gluing PVC Pipe
When gluing PVC, and working with toxic materials, you should wear protective items. You do not want to breathe the fumes in or get the material on your skin or in your eyes. Also, do not work in areas where there is an open flame as the materials are combustible.
Further safety requirements include:
- Working in a well-ventilated space or outside
- Make sure you use a respirator mask and not a dust mask
- To protect your surfaces from mess and stain, cover your work area with a towel as the glue can get messy and may damage surfaces. The purple primer can also stain surfaces and it is difficult to remove
- Wearing nitrile gloves that is resistant to chemicals is best to use as the materials you are using can burn if it comes into contact with the skin.
Gluing PVC Tricks and Tips
Now that you have the basic safety guidelines down, there are a few tips and tricks you can use to create the perfect PVC pipe seal. Creating the best bond is important as, in many cases, you do not want any leaks occurring because of a bad job. So here are a few simple tips to help you in the right direction.
- Remember to hold the two components you are joining for at least 10 seconds because if you do not the air pressure might push the parts away from each other.
- For household purposes, it is best to use solvent cement and not glue. The glue will not provide a lasting bond.
- A pipe cutter is the best choice, but a flat-edge saw can also do the job.
- Let the joined piping set for at least 24 hours before using.
- Always smooth any cut edges before gluing, if you do not, it can compromise the seal or cause clogging inside the pipe.
- Make sure you select the right cement for your purposes.
- Have all your materials and tools ready before gluing, as you have to work quickly.
- When introducing the PVC pipe inside the fitting, twist it a little to spread the glue and then align correctly with your markings.
- Purchase a few more fittings than needed, just in case they need to be changed.
- Work quickly but with precision, try to avoid any drips and splashes.
After reading this detailed tutorial, you should be fully equipped to glue any PVC pipes together yourself. You know which PVC glue is best for your job, whether it needs a primer, and exactly how to prepare and join your PVC pipes.
Frequently asked Questions
Is it Possible to Join PVC to ABS Piping?
Yes, it is possible to join them, however, the method of joining is not a solvent cement but mechanical couplings.
Can you Join PVC to CPVC Piping?
You can, however, the CPVC material is more expensive than PVC and there is no case where it will be absolutely necessary. Using PVC alone would offer the same benefits and it is cheaper.
Is a Primer Needed With PVC Cement?
Some do not use a primer with cement glue, while others use a primer all the time. Primer might not be necessary for all cases, but by applying it, you are providing a better and stronger bond that will help prevent any leakage.
Is PVC Cement the Same as Glue?
No, glue or adhesives like superglue only prove a bond, while the PVC cement undergoes a chemical reaction and fuses the two surfaces for a permanent bond.