Plastic is a very common material used for a wide variety of household items ranging from buckets to containers to heavy plastic-type coolers. Over time, through use, impact damage and exposure to hot and cold temperatures, plastic-type can crack. Cracked plastic-type containers and other items are usually left as an unusable piece that ends up forever in a landfill. Plastics typically won’t degrade in our lifetime and will be left to stay forever as part of an ugly landscape we leave for future generations. Rather than tossing out the old plastic items, repair them so they will regain their usefulness.

Repairing plastics not only helps the environment, it is cost effective. It is much less expensive to repair a cracked bucket than it is to replace it. Before throwing away a plastic item, see if you are able to repair it. If the plastic-type container is shattered and missing large pieces, it is usually not a good candidate for repair. Look at the bottom of the item to determine if it can be recycled before throwing it away. If the item has only a crack or a few cracks, but is otherwise in good shape, it can be fixed. Repairing cracked plastic isn’t as difficult as it seems. Plastic repair is known as plastic welding and can be done with some items around the house or if you have many items. If you have an item that has some kind of value to you either monetary or sentimental, you can use a plastic welding gun. Hey, who knows if you are good at it, you may be able to start a small side business making the welding gun worth the investment.

Plastic welding guns are more useful and perform better for repairs on statues or other items where you need a more precise weld. If you are repairing an item such as a plastic patio container or bucket or even a child’s large toy, you can use household items. If you are repairing a fountain or a decorative piece or even a child’s small toy, opt for a plastic welding gun.

Welding Plastic with a plastic-type Welding Gun

Wash the plastic-type item thoroughly with a grease fighting dish soap to remove all grease, dirt, oils and any flammable residue.

Dry the item completely with a rag and allow it to air dry for at least 10 to 15 minutes.

Put on heat resistant safety goggles and heat resistant gloves.

Sand the edges of the cracked plastic-type with 120 grit sandpaper to slightly round off sharp areas. Lightly sand the plastic-type surrounding the crack to remove the shiny finish.

Plug in the plastic-type welding gun and allow it to heat for approximately 10 minutes.

While the welding gun is heating, join the edges of the crack with foil tape. If the item is a stiff plastic-type and the edges haven’t moved away from each other, you can skip that step.

You can either choose a plastic-type welding rod if there are pieces of plastic-type missing to create a new plastic-type surface. If all pieces are intact, you don’t need the welding rod.

Move the tip of the welding gun along the crack and briefly hold it in place until the plastic-type  begins to melt. Alternate the welding gun between each side of the crack. As the plastic-type begins to melt, join the edges and hold them in place for a minute or two until the plastic-type fuses together.

Continue to move down the line of the crack fuses the edges of the crack until you repair the entire crack.

If you are filling in a missing piece -- build the melted plastic-type welding rod off the edge the plastic-type item little by little. Add plastic-type to the edge, let it cool and harden, add more plastic-type to the edges and let it cool and harden. Continue with this pattern until you bridge the section of plastic-type and form a new surface where the hole was.

 Welding plastic-types with a Non-Stick Iron

Wash the item with a grease fighting dish detergent and dry thoroughly.

Smooth the edges of the cracked plastic-types with 120 grit sandpaper and lightly sand off any sharp edges. Sand approximately ¼ inch from the crack out on both sides of the crack.

Put on a pair of heat resistant gloves and heat resistant safety goggles.

Plug in and heat a non stick household clothing iron on a high setting.

Cover a piece of cardboard with parchment paper and place the cardboard inside the plastic-type container to act as a form and brace.

Place a piece of parchment paper over the crack in the plastic.

Place the clothing iron on the parchment paper and move it back and forth over the crack until the plastic begins to melt on both sides of the crack. As soon as the plastic melts, remove the iron from the plastic and remove the parchment paper.

Join the two edges together and hold them in place while the plastic cools and hardens. While the melted plastic cools it will fuse the plastic together, which will only take about 20 to 30 seconds.

Heat a metal skewer over a flame until it is very hot.

Smooth the surface of the repair with the hot metal to allow the repair to blend into the plastic and become less noticeable.

Tips for Plastic Welding

Open windows and set up a fan to provide good ventilation.

Avoid breathing in toxic plastics fumes.

If you break a plastic item such as a cooler, save the pieces so you can weld them back together later.

It is much easier and more precise to weld plastics with welding gun than a household iron.

Do not allow the household clothing iron or welding gun to come in direct contact with the plastic.

Always wear heat resistant gloves when welding and fusing plastic to avoid burns.

Always wear heat resistant safety goggles to protect your eyes from hot melted plastic.

Never attempt to weld a plastic container that was used for storing flammables such as gasoline.

Remove any flammable items from the area when welding plastics.