Learning how to repair PVC pipe is easy. And we’re going to show you exactly how to do it, whether it’s cracked or broken.
Just keep in mind that actually making the repair might be more labor-intensive than you had imagined. But if you’re able and willing to put a little muscle into this project, then we encourage you to give it a try.
Let’s get started.
What is PVC?
First, let’s make sure you know what PVC is. The letters stand for polyvinyl chloride, a synthetic plastic polymer.
These days, it is a popular material for indoor drain (wastewater) pipes because it is light, durable, and soundproof. It is also used for underground drains. However, for outdoor drain systems where freezing temperatures are common, ABS (a different type of plastic) might be a better solution.
And don’t worry. While its real name sounds scary and toxic, PVC is perfectly safe in wastewater drainage and plumbing systems. But it should not be the pipe material used in potable (drinkable) water supply pipes.
How to Repair PVC Pipe
The following four major steps are required for repairing or replacing a broken or cracked PVC pipe in your home. Just keep in mind that you should not run water in the house while you’re making this repair. If you can, shut off the main water supply valve before you begin.
1. Remove the Damaged Section
- Wrap a sheet of paper around the PVC pipe as a “saw guide.”
- Cut squarely through the pipe with a hacksaw about 1- to 2-inches beyond each side of the damaged area.
- If the pipe is directly connected to the sewer, stuff newspapers or paper towels into the standing pipes to block dangerous sewer gas from exiting into your workspace.
- Before you move on to the next step, make sure all the water is drained from the pipe, then clean and dry the ends of the pipe with an old rag.
2. Cut the Replacement Pipe
- Fit a slip coupling over each standing pipe (the undamaged pipe that remains in place).
- Carefully measure the gap and transfer the measurement to the new piece of PVC pipe.
- Cut the replacement section to the length needed with a handsaw and miter box. Use the paper guide as in step 1 to make sure the cut is square.
3. Apply Solvent Cement
- With a sharp knife, deburr and bevel the PVC pipe ends. This will aid water flow and improve the welding action of the solvent cement.
- Apply a thick coat of PVC primer solvent to the pipe ends: apply it to the outside of the existing PVC pipe and on the inside of the new PVC pipe. The primer will soften the PVC pipe, making it easier to fit.
- To make the job easier, use a 1.5″ brush or applicator for a 3-inch-wide coupling.
4. Fit the Replacement Pipe
- Working quickly, before the cement sets, lift the new pipe into place and slip one coupling over its joint, then the other.
- Each coupling must cover an equal amount of old and new pipe.
- Give each coupling a quarter-turn to spread the cement. Then wipe away excess cement with a clean cloth.
- Allow the joint to cure (at least two hours), then run water through the drain pipe.
- If it leaks, the couplings were not properly cemented. Cut out the replacement pipe and fittings and start again.
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- How to prevent burst pipes (and make your pipes last longer)
As you can see, with a little know-how, the right tools, and a bit of muscle, you can fix a broken PVC pipe in your home. Just make sure that the pipe you’re repairing or replacing is made of PVC. Otherwise, you’ll want to investigate our other pipe repairing articles (above) for more accurate instructions.
1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.