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When you maintain rural property you have to be a jack-of-all-trades but for me, knowing how to work with PVC pipe has been my most useful skill .  Of course it always helps to be part electrician, mechanic and plumber but it just seems that installing and repairing pipe comes up more often than any other chore. I'm constantly running PVC pipe to new gardens, making repairs on well fittings and even repairing the plumbing that brings water to the house.  PVC pipe is everywhere and it really helps to know the basics.  Hopefully I've given you those basics on this page.

The Glue

Few plumbing chores cause as much debate as the proper method for gluing PVC pipe. Everyone seems to have their own ideas and it's one job that causes a lot of arguments. The people that sell the cement have one perspective, usually to avoid lawsuits. The installers will tell you the accepted trade practice and then do it differently as dictated by the real world.

I've had manufacturers tell me that their cement is so good, it can be glued underwater with the water turned on immediately. They are always careful to never make that claim in writing. For this article, I will describe the method I use.

Since I have been gluing pipe (about 25 years), I've had about 3 fittings blow apart that I could blame on poor gluing. More often, fittings break because they have too much strain put on them due to stress caused by sharp angles.

I've had the experts tell me that if fittings are glued properly, the pipe will explode before the glue fails. Overall, I've found that to be true. Before I retired, I sometimes glued pipe that was over 4" in diameter, in areas where a great deal of damage could be caused if things went wrong. I really don't have the space to cover those special techniques so for this article, I will discuss the generic method for gluing pipe that has served me well over the years.

For the average homeowner shopping at home depot, that small can of blue glue will usually suffice. If you're gluing irrigation pipe, this glue has worked well for me.

I prefer to use gray glue for gluing water mains that will have constant pressure. It comes under various brands and is most often described as being a gray, medium bodied, medium set glue. Medium set means it won't dry too quickly, allowing more time for the glue to react with the PVC surface. I've been told that this glue holds up better over a longer period of time.

The Primer

I recommend primer, especially when using gray glue. Some people claim you don't need primer when using the hotter, blue glues. Why take that chance when primer is so easy to apply. The primer is used to soften and prepare the PVC pipe by cleaning and removing paraffin that is left over from the manufacturing process. Most often, the primer is bright blue in color and is used as an indicator so you can tell where it has been applied.  Many building inspectors will not pass a job if they can't see blue primer showing past the glue. I caught one contractor applying grape juice after he had glued his fittings. Nice try, no cigar.

The Job

The following are the directions recommended by Weld-On brand cement. Most brands are similar but check the directions on the can to make sure.

  1. Cut pipe square and deburr. Clean and dry joining surfaces
  2. Check dry fit.. Pipe should push 1/4 to 3/4 way into fitting
  3. Use a suitable applicator at least 1/2 size of the pipe diameter; for larger sizes use brush or roller.
  4. Apply primer
  5. Apply a full even layer of cement on the pipe equal to the depth of the socket. Coat the fitting socket with a medium layer. Avoid excess and puddling. If necessary, apply a second layer on pipe. Cement should fill all gaps.
  6. On bell end pipe, do not coat beyond socket depth or allow cement to run beyond bell.
  7. Assemble while cement is wet. If not wet, recoat parts before assembly. Insure pipe bottoms into fitting socket. Twist 1/8 to 1/4 turn; to avoid pushout and allow for initial set, hold for 30 seconds. Wipe off excess.
  8. Allow 3 mins. for good handling strength and 30 mins. cure time up to 150 psi´┐Ż

Since 1999