Is your PVC pipe causing water issues? Using PVC plumbing is convenient and effective, but you can have some leaking or holes if something goes wrong. Unpressurized PVC pipes can be repaired if the damage is minimal, while pressurized PVC water lines need to be replaced to get rid of holes and leaks.
Reasons for Leaky PVC Pipes
When properly connected with PVC cement, PVC pipes bond together permanently, making it impossible to undo the joint. However, PVC pipes can still leak for various reasons. Some causes of leaks in PVC pipes include:
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- Incorrect adhesive: If you don't use the correct type of PVC cement, your connection won't likely hold.
- Impact or puncture: Direct damage to the pipe can cause a hole to form. For example, you can damage the pipe if you hit it with something very hard or accidentally pound a nail into the pipe.
- Poor installation: Incorrect installation can leave room for leaks, damage, or deterioration that eventually needs to be repaired.
- Extreme cold: If you live in a frigid climate, extremely cold temperatures can make PVC brittle and increase the chances of damage.
Limitations on Repairs
Repairs on PVC pipes are only possible if the pipe is unpressurized. An example is a drain pipe, which is one of the most common places to find PVC pipes in your home. Don't try to patch a pressurized PVC pipe as it won't hold.
Apply Repair Epoxy
Using repair epoxy is an option for fixing small holes. It's usually a two-part epoxy that you mix right before applying. The PVC pipe needs to be completely dry before you apply the epoxy. Allow it to cure according to the package instructions, which can take around an hour; then test the pipe for leaks.
Fiberglass Resin Tape
Best used as a temporary solution for PVC leaks, fiberglass resin tape uses resin that's water-activated. Make sure the pipe is clean before applying the tape. A damp cloth does the trick and leaves the pipe damp, which is how you want it to prepare for the tape. Then simply wrap the tape around the damaged section and wait 15 minutes for it to harden.
Fiberglass Resin Cloth
A similar but longer-lasting option is fiberglass resin cloth. You'll need to sand the surface slightly before applying it. This option uses a UV light to cure the resin.
Rubber and Silicone Repair Tape
A slightly different type of tape is rubber and silicone repair tape. While fiberglass resin tape sticks to the pipe, this type of repair tape sticks to itself and creates compression to stop a small leak. You need to make sure the tape is snug and extends beyond the damaged area to keep it secure.
Replace the Pipe
If the hole is in a pressurized water pipe, the only way to fix it is by replacing the damaged section of pipe. A PVC pipe replacement might also be necessary if the hole is large or the section is severely damaged. The steps to replace the section are fairly straightforward:
- Shut off the water and drain it from the line.
- Cut out the damaged section of the PVC pipe using a hacksaw.
- Cut the new section to fit the gap. Dry-fit the piece with the fittings to ensure it's the correct length and that everything fits together properly.
- Use the attached applicator to put on a coat of primer before gluing the PVC pieces together.
- Apply a generous layer of the adhesive immediately after applying the primer.
- Position the pieces quickly as the adhesive starts to set fast.
- Hold the parts together for about 30 seconds or for the length of time specified on the package.
- Wipe away any excess.