How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe

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When you have a leak in your PVC system, your first thought might be to call the plumber. Yet for many minor leaks, the average homeowner can tackle the job without the need to pay a repair professional. Here's what you need to do.

How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe - Austin - shutterstock-134565629-97.jpg
(Photo credit: Shutterstock.)

Determine Your Course of Action

PVC leaks can be repaired in one of two ways. If you have a small leak, you may be able to simply repair it with PVC putty. For larger leaks, you will need to cut and repair the pipe. Determine how bad your leak is and choose your course of action.

Repairing Small Leaks

A small leak can be repaired with a PVC epoxy. While this may not be a permanent solution, and the leak may return, it can get you by for a while without the need to cut the pipe. Before you begin, ensure that water is not running to the area where you will be working. Turn it off at the main if you need to, and let the pipe drain out so no water is coming through the leaky area.

To use epoxy to fill a PVC hole, first locate the leak. Do this before you turn the water of and before mixing the epoxy in case you have trouble finding the exact location of the leak. Once you have found the leak, use sandpaper to rough up the PVC around the hole, and clean it thoroughly. Next, mix the appropriate amount of epoxy according to the manufacturer's directions. Apply it quickly but accurately to the leak, as it will harden within a three-hour window. Let it cure for as long as possible before turning on the water again. Once the epoxy has cured completely, turn on the water and check for leaks. Repeat the process as needed.

Repairing Larger Leaks

If the leak is too large to be repaired with putty, you will need to cut out and replace the PVC. First, you will need a few supplies, including:

PVC ratcheting cutters
Sandpaper
PVC pipe
Couplings
PVC primer solvent
PVC solvent cement

First, turn off the water at the main to ensure you have a dry line to work with. Using the PVC cutter, remove the damaged section of the pipe. Work to make straight cuts when you do, to avoid problems from jagged edges. Once the pipe is cut, use the sandpaper to smooth the edges. Aim to remove about a foot of pipe to give yourself enough room for the repair.

Next, cut your PVC pipe to the length that you have removed. You will need to cut it about 1 inch shorter than the piece you removed so you can fit it into the space with the couplings. Again, use straight cuts and sand down the edges. If the leak is at or near a joint, remove the pipe and the fitting that is attaching it to the next length of pipe.

Before you start to glue, dry fit the pipe, couplings and any other fittings to ensure they fit well. Make any minor adjustments you need to achieve a solid fit. Before applying the solvent, apply a thin layer of PVC primer anywhere PVC will be touching PVC.

Apply the PVC glue to the outside of the old pipe and the inside of the coupling. Be certain to follow the manufacturer's recommendations, as too much or too little glue could compromise the system. Slide the coupling onto the old pipe, and twist it slightly to keep the coupling in place. Hold the new joint for 20 30 seconds while the glue sets. Add glue to the outside of the replacement pipe and slide it into place, again twisting it slightly. Repeat this process on the other end, which will be more challenging as you have less room to move the pipe. Allow the glue to dry according to the manufacturer's direction before turning the water back on.

When you turn the water back on, run it at a low pressure first to test for leaks. If you don't see any, gradually increase the pressure until it is running at full capacity to test for leaks.

Repairing PVC pipe is something most patient DIY-ers can handle on their own. Take the time to do it right, and you can save yourself a lot of hassle and headache, as well as a significant amount of money in the future.

Author Bio:Amanda Hill is the content manager at PVC Fittings Online, a leading supplier of Schedule 80 CPVC Supplies and accessories for commercial contractors. Amanda is known as the Queen of PVC due to the wide range or PVC topics she writes on.

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