PVC pipes (polyvinyl chloride pipes) are known for their durable and lightweight properties that make them a sustainable solution for sewage, plumbing, and irrigation. Typically identified by their white or cream color, PVC pipes are connected using couplings and solvent cement that melts the surface layer of the pipes, bonding the material together.
PVC is most commonly used as drain piping, known for its ease-of-use and affordability. For most PVC damages, repairs can be made to the existing pipe to keep the leaking under control. However, if the damage is too extensive, the pipe may need to be replaced entirely. To help you navigate the repair or replacement or your PVC pipes, we’ve detailed five ways you can repair or replace your pipe.
Common Reasons for PVC Leaks
Here are some of the most common causes of PVC pipe repairs and replacements:
- Improper installation—If a PVC fitting is not properly installed onto the joining pipe, a leak can occur. This is usually caused by a loose-fitting that allows water to seep through.
- Wrong adhesive glue—Make sure that you purchase the correct PVC cement so that it doesn’t deteriorate prematurely. Before selecting a glue, read the label to confirm that it’s designed to adhere to PVC. Even if you select the correct glue, it’ll eventually deteriorate with old age and require a repair.
- Freezing temperatures—Although PVC is resistant to freezing, it’s still capable of becoming brittle and damaged under extreme winter weather. If you live in an area that experiences cold temperatures, insulate your pipes to prevent freezing.
How to Repair Damaged PVC Pipes
From epoxy and rubber tape to hose clamps and fiberglass, here are five ways to repair or replace your PVC pipe.
1. Fiberglass Resin Tape or Cloth
If you’re looking for a temporary repair for a leaking PVC pipe, fiberglass resin tape can slow the damage. The fiberglass tape makes repair simple by using a water-activated resin that hardens around the pipe and slows the leaking. Before applying the tape to the PVC pipe, clean the damaged area of the pipe using a damp rag. While still wet, wrap the tape around the damaged area and let the resin harden for 15 minutes.
Fiberglass resin cloth can be used for a more permanent repair. Similar to the resin tape repair, start by cleaning the area around the leak or damage, then lightly sand the surface to create a more adhesive surface. The resin cloth can then be placed over the damage. To start curing the resin, shine a UV light directly onto the pipe or take the section of the pipe outside into direct sunlight.
Repair epoxy is putty or viscous liquid that can be used to repair pipe leaks on PVC and its joints. To repair your pipe or joint using epoxy, first clean and dry the damaged area, ensuring water can’t reach the affected area.
If necessary, mix the putty or liquid according to the manufacturer’s directions. Then, apply the epoxy and let it cure for ten minutes. After curing, let water move through the pipe and check for any leaks.
3. Rubber and Silicone Repair Tape
If you’re dealing with a minor leak, rubber and silicone repair tape is a simple solution. Like fiberglass resin tape, rubber and silicone tape come in a roll that can be wrapped directly around the PVC pipe. However, instead of adhering to the pipe, the repair tape adheres directly to itself.
To fix the damage, wrap the tape around the leak, covering a little bit to the left and right of the affected area. The tape uses compression to fix the leak, so ensure that the wrap is tight and secure before using the pipes again.
4. Rubber Tape and Hose Clamps
Like the rubber and silicone repair tape, this repair method uses compression to repair small leaks in PVC pipes. Wrap rubber around the damaged area, then separate the hose clamps and place them around the affected area, tightening to stop or slow the leak. This repair should be a temporary fix, as the rubber tape and hose clamps will become ineffective as the leak grows.
Sometimes, a PVC pipe is too damaged for a simple repair. If this is the case, you’ll need to replace the damaged section with a new PVC pipe. To replace the pipe, first make sure the water to the pipe is turned off. This can be done by using a local water shutoff switch, located near the pipe, or by turning off the water at the main water supply.
- Cut the pipe about one inch to the left and to the right of the damaged area using a ratchet cutter or hacksaw.
- Allow any excess water to come out of the pipe and dry with a clean cloth.
- Once the damaged pipe is cut away, dry-fit the replacement pipe in the hole, ensuring the pipe’s fitting is properly secured around the existing PVC.
- Apply PVC primer solvent to the inside of the replacement pipe’s fittings and to the outside of the existing pipe.
- Then, apply glue to the existing, exposed PVC pipe and around the inside of the replacement fitting.
- Insert the existing pipe into the replacement fittings, using a twisting motion to secure the pipe with glue.
- Hold the pipe firmly for 10 seconds to ensure a strong bond.