PVC Pipe 101: The Fundamentals of Utilizing PVC for Plumbing

Even if it is not always visible, our house installation sometimes needs just as much love and care as the furnishing of our living room!

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Serious damage can be caused if the pipes drip under your sink or in your basement. Update your plumbing with PVC piping. Here we provide a guide on PVC Pipe 101 so that you can successfully use PVC in residential plumbing applications.

Properties of PVC

If you need to upgrade the plumbing in your home, consider installing PVC plumbing. It's corrosion-resistant, ideal for drainage, and easier to work with than steel or copper because it's lighter. You will be surprised to learn that PVC is safe to use with water as long as temperatures stay below 140 ° F. If you have applications where the temperature would be above that, you can install a CPVC pipe. It's similar to PVC, but with a slightly different chemical makeup that allows it to withstand temperatures up to 200 ° F. It's no wonder PVC is a staple in home improvement projects. Not only does it have a long lifespan, but it is also more cost effective than its counterparts such as steel and copper tubing.

PVC pipe sizes

PVC pipe is a popular choice with homeowners because it comes in a variety of sizes so everyone can find the right pipe and fittings no matter what project is tackled. If you've ever been confused about what type or size of PVC pipe to use, you are not alone. Hopefully this guide will make things clearer. PVC pipes and fittings are defined by two characteristics: their wall thickness and the nominal pipe size. The wall thickness of the pipe is the “timetable” of the pipe. You may have seen how PVC was described as Schedule 40 or Schedule 80. Schedule 40 PVC is usually white and is used for domestic plumbing. Schedule 80 PVC has a thicker wall and is usually gray. You probably won't have a huge need for Schedule 80 PVC in your home as it is primarily used in commercial and industrial applications.

The nominal pipe size (NPS) can be even more confusing because measuring pipe diameter is not an accurate measurement of pipe diameter. For example, a ½ "NPS pipe has an outside diameter of 0.84". It is important to note that if you use the same pipe schedule throughout your project, the pipes and fittings of the same size will all fit together. For example, if you are using 1 "Schedule 40 pipe, you can attach a 1" Schedule 40 elbow or tee or coupling to that pipe.

PVC cutting and gluing

Before cutting or gluing pieces of PVC together, it is important to note that you cannot peel PVC. The glue (or cement) chemically changes the composition of the pipe by essentially melting the pipe and fitting together. Once the adhesive has hardened (which happens quickly), the pipe and fitting cannot be pulled apart. Since the connections are essentially permanent (unless you want to cut the pipe again and reconnect with a new fitting), follow these tips when cutting and gluing PVC:

Measure and measure again

You can never measure too often. Before making any cuts, take careful measurements. And then do it again.

Use the right tool

When you're ready to make the first cut, make sure you have the right tools on hand. You can use a hacksaw for small projects. For larger projects, consider using a PVC cutter or electric miter saw, which will make your cuts precise and quick.

Sand the rough edges

Before gluing your PVC pieces together, sand or file down any rough edges on the ends of your pipe. Be sure to remove the burrs on both the inside of the pipe and the outside.

Fit your PVC dry

When working with PVC piping, it is always best to dry-fit all the pieces together before putting in any glue. So you know if you still need to file edges or if you are cutting a PVC pipe too short. Once everything seems fine, once you put the pieces back together with an adhesive, mark the pipes and fittings with a marker to ensure proper alignment.

Glue PVC pipe and fittings

As mentioned earlier, PVC cement fuses the pipe and fittings together. Because of this, it is important to work quickly and focus on one section at a time. If your application needs to be waterproof, use a PVC primer before gluing.

Understand fittings

Tees, Elbows, and Couplings – Oh My God! In plumbing installations, it may be necessary to wind the pipes around corners or obstacles. Fortunately, with PVC there are many types of fittings to get the job done. Your plumbing project will likely require PVC tees, elbows, and crosses. However, couplings, screw connections, caps and plugs may also be required. The good news is that all of these parts are extremely affordable, especially when you shop online. If your project can wait, it is always a good idea to compare in stores and online before purchasing any of your materials.

PVC fittings are available in a variety of end types. Typically these fittings have sliding ends, which means that the fitting slides over the pipe and is not threaded to hold it in place. Therefore, primer and cement are needed to make this joint waterproof. Other fittings have threaded ends because the connections are not intended to be permanent. Instead of cement, the connection between these types of fittings can be reinforced with PTFE thread sealing tape. You will most likely need sliding fittings for your plumbing project.

Use of PVC pipes in plumbing

House remodeling can be expensive, but it is often necessary. Using PVC for plumbing projects is a great way to stay on a budget because it is inexpensive and doesn't require a lot of consumables. We hope this PVC Pipe 101 Guide will help you understand the benefits of using PVC piping in your home installation.

Author byline:

Mark Ligon is Marketing Manager at PVC Fittings Online, a leading provider of consumer-based sanitationincluding plumbing, fittings, valves, plumbing supplies and accessories. Mark is a DIY enthusiast and advises individuals on home improvement projects involving a range of PVC products.

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