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How To Join Plastic Pipe Fittings

Rigid plastic pipe is not all the same, but the methods used to join the pipe mostly are. The most important difference is that each type of plastic pipe requires its own special solvents or glues.

The three common rigid plastic pipe materials are PVC, CPVC and ABS. The first is made from polyvinyl chloride and can be used for cold water supply and venting but cannot be used for hot water. The second pipe uses chlorinated polyvinyl chloride and IS able to handle residential hot water. The last rigid pipe is made from Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene and is used for drains, sewer lines and venting. You must check with your local building codes to determine what type of pipe is approved for use in your home. Not all communities allow the use of plastic pipe.

To join plastic pipe and fittings are a few simple steps. However, to get water tight and reliable connections, the steps must be followed strictly.

1. Cut the pipe to length. For smaller diameters, a pipe cutter is a fast and accurate way to make cuts quickly. For pipe 2" and larger, use a hack saw and miter box.

It is very important to make a square and smooth cut to ensure maximum bonding between the pipe and the fitting. Angled or ragged cuts must not be used.

2. Deburr the pipe. Any burrs around the outer edge can lead to eventual leaks at the fitting. Burrs inside the pipe can lead to vibration, noise and clogs from debris. Use a deburring tool, razor knife or fine grit sandpaper to remove all of the burrs left after cutting.

3. Test fit the pipe. The connection should be tight with uniform friction around the entire perimeter of the pipe.

4. ABS pipe must have all printing, oil and dirt removed. Ensure that the pipe and fitting are thoroughly dry. Use pipe cleaning fluid designated for use on ABS to clean the pipe end plus a 1/2" beyond the depth of the fitting. Allow the cleaning fluid to dry for 30 seconds before going to the next step.

PVC and CPVC pipe should be cleaned with a rag. Ensure that the pipe and fitting are thoroughly dry. Primer should be applied to the pipe and fitting. The primer softens the plastic to prepare it for joining.

Application of the cleaning fluid or primer is done with the built in applicator on the lid of the product. Remove the applicator and dab away excess material before painting the outer portion of the pipe. Paint around the pipe as though the applicator was "orbiting" the pipe. Ensure the area is completely coated and repeat this step on the inside of the fitting.

4. Apply the cement. Make certain you have selected the proper type of cement for the material you are working with. Use the built in applicator paint around the end of the pipe and then the interior of the fitting.

5. Working quickly, insert the pipe into the fitting so that it goes in all the way, while simultaneously giving a quarter to half turn of the pipe as it is going in. Hold the fitting and pipe together for thirty seconds. Failure to hold them secure can result in the pipe creeping out of the fitting and thus greatly increasing the likelihood of a leak or joint failure.

Allow the joint to cure for about an hour for pipe up to 1.5" and 2 hours for pipe up to 4" before conducting pressure tests or exposing to water.

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