The Dos and Don’ts of Gluing PVC Pipe
Speed and accuracy count when gluing PVC pipe, so avoid mishaps with this guide to creating an airtight connection with fast-acting cement.
Pipe made of polyvinyl chloride, commonly called PVC, is used in a variety of residential applications, from plumbing systems to a host of cool craft projects (such as DIY racks, organizers, and even furniture). Joining a pipe to a pipe fitting requires specially formulated primer and cement—no ordinary adhesive but a chemical solvent that melts the surface of the PVC and then quickly re-hardens to fuse the pieces together. The result is an airtight, leak-proof bond similar to what you get with welding metal.
The process involves applying primer to the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting, which cleans and preps the PVC. After about 10 seconds, you next apply cement to the same areas, then insert the pipe snugly into the fitting and allow the cement to set.
Simple as that sounds, gluing PVC pipe is easy to mess up, and if you make a mistake, there’s no going back—you’ll have to cut out the pipe and start over. So heed this list of dos and don’ts to ensure success on your PVC projects.
DON’T use the wrong type of cement.
There are different kinds of cements (and primers) on the market formulated for various types of plastic piping. Read labels carefully and be sure to select cement made specifically for PVC. Be aware that one type of pipe cement you may see on the shelf is designed for CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe, which is similar in name but not an acceptable substitute. Popular manufacturers of PVC cement include Weld-On (view on Amazon), Oatey (view on Amazon), Gorilla (view on Amazon) and more.
DO a dry fit.
Before gluing PVC pipe, lay out all the pieces of pipe and make sure that when they’re connected, they fit together nicely and are cut to the correct length that you need. Then mark and number the connections if necessary so you don’t glue the wrong ones together.
DON’T neglect safety warnings.
PVC primer and cement are messy to work with, and manufacturers recommend avoiding eye and skin contact. Before getting started, break out the safety goggles (ideally with side shields) and protective gloves. You may want to lay a tarp or towel over your work surface to minimize difficult cleanup in the event of drips. PVC pipe cement is a chemical solvent which can off-put harmful toxins, so be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.
DON’T leave jagged edges.
After you cut the PVC pipe with a special tool called a PVC pipe cutter (view example on Amazon), be sure to smooth any burrs off the edges of the cut surface with coarse sandpaper or a utility knife. Left attached, burrs can both catch debris flowing through the pipes, causing clogs, or compromise the effectiveness of the seal.
DO work fast.
After you apply the primer, you only have about 10 seconds before you need to apply the cement. After that, you will immediately insert the pipe into the fitting. Proceed quickly when gluing PVC pipe; if the cement begins drying before you’re ready, reapply it.
DO twist for a secure fit.
Twist the pipe a quarter of the way around as you push it into the fitting. This will allow the glue to spread, offering a tighter fit. Hold the pipe and fitting together firmly for at least 30 seconds; any less and the pipe could pop back out.
DO allow enough cure time.
After holding the pipe in place for 30 seconds, give it at least 20 minutes before handling it further so the cement can set properly. Refer to the product’s instructions for how long the glue needs to cure before you can use it for your project, usually within 24 hours.