PVC Pipe
Credit: UsKhalid via Wikimedia Commons

Plumbing projects can be relatively simply, or more complicated based on where it is located and how much of the house you have to tear up to get to it. If your plumbing is primarily buried in a cement slab under your house, your plumbing problems are going to be more complicated and more expensive to repair because breaking concrete is more tedious than digging up ground in a crawl space or areas surrounding the house.

Some plumbing projects are definitely best left up to the professionals but if you have a working knowledge of how the water flows in your home, and some basic skills, you can repair minor issues on your own and save some money in the process.

One of the easiest projects to do is repairing or replacing exposed PVC pipe. However, most areas require a permit before you can make plumbing changes to your home, so check with the authorities in your area before you begin any PVC projects because you do not want to fail inspection later.

Plumbing Lingo

  •  Compression Fittings – a sleeve, either metal or PVC, that tightens against a fitting without the need of solder
  • Purple primer – required to connect PVC pipe used for drainage and supply lines
  • Clear primer – good for supply lines, but not drainage
  • Teflon tape – white non-sticky tape that is used on the threads of pipes to make a tighter seal
  • PVC pipe – rigid plastic pipe developed to replace cast iron and galvanized steel used for drain, water and venting systems
  • ABS pipe – rigid plastic pipe similar to PVC, but black in appearance and not approved in some municipalities

Tips Before You Begin

Dry fit all assembly connections before glue them together. Clean the edges of the pipes with sandpaper and use a pipe cleaning brush for the insides of the connections before gluing.

After placing the cement on the connection of each pipe, assemble the two quickly because the glue dries fast. Different cements have different daubers that apply the cement for various types and sizes of pipes.

For a PVC joint to be sealed, it must be inserted fully into the fitting by using the adhesive as a lubricant and twisting it into place. The curing time for the adhesive primer depends on the type of cement used as well as the type and size of the pipe so do not rush this process

When finished, cover the cements and primers with the tops when not in use. Do not mix primer with cements.

Oatey 30246 PVC Regular Cement and 4-Ounce NSF Purple Primer Handy Pack
Amazon Price: $14.77 $3.86 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 13, 2016)

Materials Needed Before You Begin

ABS Pipe
Credit: Amazon.com
  • PVP pipe and fittings
  • Cleaner and pipe brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Tube cutter
  • Hacksaw
  • Deburring tool
  • Rags

How to Connect PVC Pipe

Whatever project you are initiating involved basic plumbing, you will probably need to connect PVC pipe with various connectors such as Lasco fittings at some point. This brief step-by-step guide will cover the basics of how to cut PVC and how to glue PVC pipe.

  1. When joining two pipe sizes together, you must cut the pipe to length square, else you Connect PVC PipeCredit: MauryMartinez via Wikimedia Commonscould have problems down the road.  For this reason, it is recommended that you use a pipe cutter specifically designed to cut a straight line rather than sawing with a hacksaw to get the correct PVC pipe dimensions.
  2. After the cut is made, deburr the inside and outside edges using a deburring tool or knife for rougher edges, or sandpaper for smoother ones. Be sure the areas that will join together are smooth or the pipes will not fit as far in and form a better seal with the cement you apply later.
  3. Clean the pipes with a cleaner recommended by the manufacture.
  4. Test fit all connections.
  5. Apply the primer to all connections with softens the ends of the pipe and prepares them for the cement. Use the purple primary for all applications that involve drainage and supply lines.
  6. While the primer is still wet, using the dauber provided with the cement can, coat the pipe and fittings with cement. Do not lay it on too thick. I think coating will do.
  7. Once coated, work fast to connect all fittings together and twist them into place with a quarter turn. Hold the connection together tight for 30 seconds to prevent any push back.
  8. The cement immediately interacts with the surface of the PVC, melting it and forming a solid seal. Once attached, you cannot remove the connection.
  9. Wipe away any excess cement from the outer joint.

Note: Primers and cements are flammable and toxic if inhaled and can actually cause you to become unconscious if you are not in a well-ventilated area. Consider using a proper respirator when gluing fittings together and never use around a flame source.

Using CPVC Pipe for Hot and Cold Water

First, what is CPVC pipe?

Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride pipe  is used for hot and cold water supply lines because it is able to withstand high temperatures and water pressures in the system.[1] It is typically less expensive than copper pipes and as easy to work with as regular PVC pipe.

In fact, there are combination primers and cements that can be used on CPVC, eliminating a step, but this method may not meet codes in certain areas of the country, so check your local code. If a specific combination of primer and cement is required by code, the inspector will know based on the purple stains left on the pipes during inspections.

Using ABS Pipe

ABS was the first type of rigid plastic pipe approved for use in drainage and water systems. However, it has fallen out of favor in the last decade because over time, it tends to weaken and is susceptible to cracking and leaks. It is also banned in some municipalities.

Oatey 31925 PVC Regular Advanced Cement, Clear, 4-Ounce
Amazon Price: $6.60 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 13, 2016)


Do it yourself projects like small plumbing issues can save you a lot of money but beware of biting off more than you can chew. This is one area of home renovation where you might be penny wise in the beginning but pound foolish in the end if problems arise later.

Follow the methods for fittings and flanges properly and you will have a solid system in place that should last for decades.