If you have PVC pipes in your home that carry water to your sinks and other plumbing fixtures, then you may notice a few common issues with the pipes. A leak in one of the lines is a fairly common issue. Unfortunately, PVC leaks cannot always be fixed in the same manner as copper pipes. If you try to use some of the same repair methods, then you will make some mistakes that can lead to more pronounced issues in your home. Keep reading to learn about a few of these mistakes and how they can be avoid.
Mistake - Trying To Remove The Broken Pipe At The Joint
If you repair a copper pipe, then your best option is to remove the broken piping section from the closest joint. Using a torch to heat the pipe at the joint is often enough to melt the solder. The pipe can be pulled from the joint and a new one can be soldered in place. However, you cannot remove PVC pipes at the joints. When joints are created, a special bonding compound is used to adhere the pipe together. The compound is called a solvent cement. The solvent creates heat between the two sections of the pipe. The heat softens the pipe at the joint a small amount. This softened part of the PVC also swells a bit and the piping sections stick together.
It is almost impossible to break the bond between the two pipes. If the seal is broken, then both pipes will be damaged in the process. The joint will then need to be replaced anyway. Instead of trying to remove the pipe, you should cut it. If the break is far from the nearest joint, then make your cut about one-quarter inch to a few inches from the right and left sides of the leak area. Keep in mind that you will need to replace the part of the pipe that you remove, and small pipe replacements may be difficult.
If the leak area is close to a joint, then you should make your pipe cut so it includes the joint. This way you will only have one joint in the section of piping. Since joints are weak spots in the piping, this is a good idea to retain the structural integrity of the water line.
When you remove the sections of piping, you should use a PVC pipe cutter. The easiest tools to use and the ones that make the cleanest cuts are wheel cutters. The cutters have a round blade that spins around the pipe. As the blade works through the PVC, you can tighten the blade so it is in constant contact with the pipe.
Mistake - Using Quick Connects
Many people choose to use quick connect fittings when they replace or connect copper water pipes. Quick connects or push to connect fittings are compression fittings that use o-rings and grooved grip rings to hold pipes in place. The connections work well when used with copper pipes, because the grips hold onto the metal. However, PVC pipes are more flexible than copper pipes. This means that high pressure water and the movement of air through the pipe can cause the connection to loosen.
For PVC connections, you should purchase slip couplings. Couplings are small sections of PVC pipe that are just slightly bigger in diameter than the PVC pipes you are fitting together. The ends of the pipes fit into the coupling and meet in the middle. This in turn connects the two pieces of pipe together.
Like the original PVC joint, you will need to add solvent cement to the inside of the coupling before pushing it over the ends of the pipe. Before you do this, you will also need to add a primer to the coupling as well as the two pipe ends. This helps to prepare the surface of the PVC for the primer.
To learn more about fixing pipe leaks, or if you feel you cannot repair this problem yourself, contact a professional plumbing service in your area.