How to Install Plastic Drainpipe
This is not a project you want to wing and hope you do right — Know the right steps with our help.
Plastic PVC pipe and fittings are inexpensive and easy to install. However, do not take this work lightly. Once glued together a joint is rock-hard and cannot be adjusted. If you make a mistake, you'll have to cut out the section and start over. To avoid the extra work, take some time to look at our tips below. Even if you are an experience homeowner, refresh yourself with the basics to make sure you get the job done right the first time.
What You Need
- Felt-tip marker
- PVC saw or backsaw and miter box or power miter saw
- deburring tool
- Primer and cement for your type and size of pipe
Use the Right Products
Check the label on a can of primer or cement to make sure it's made for your type of pipe. Local inspectors may or may not approve of "all-purpose" cement. The larger the pipe's diameter, the bigger the applicator should be so you won't have to dip it twice. As a general rule an applicator should be about half the diameter of the pipe to be joined.
Step 1: Cut PVC
When measuring allow for the distance the pipe will travel inside the fitting. Use a felt-tip marker to mark the pipe. You can use a hacksaw or backsaw to cut PVC, but a plastic-pipe saw is easier to use. A power miter saw with a fine-cutting blade is easiest of all. Cut it square.
Dry Run for Drainpipe
To prevent a mistake, cut and assemble the pipes in a dry run: Cut and temporarily join five or six pipes and fittings and make sure that the last pipe in the run is facing the right direction. Use a felt-tip pen to make alignment marks on all the joints where the fitting must face correctly. Disassemble, keeping careful track of the order of installation. Apply primer to each pipe end and each fitting. Apply cement and join each pipe in order.
Step 2: Remove Burrs
Remove all the burrs from the cut pipe end. You can do this by scraping with a knife, but a deburring tool does a better job and is easier to use. Assemble cut pipes and fittings in a dry run.
What If... You Are Connecting ABS Pipe?
Most codes require PVC for drain lines, but if you already have black ABS pipe in your home, local codes may allow you to add to your system using the same material instead of making a transition to PVC.
Cut and assemble the black ABS pipe in much the same way as you would PVC pipe. Use a plastic-cutting saw or backsaw with a miter box, remove the burrs, and put pipe and fittings together in a dry run. Use a sharpened, light-color crayon to make alignment marks.
Instead of primer, apply ABS cleaner to pipe ends and fitting openings. Use special ABS cement to glue together the pieces. Push the pieces together and twist.
To connect PVC pipe to existing ABS pipe, use a no-hub fitting.
Step 3: Apply Primer
Apply primer to the inside of the fitting openings and to the pipe ends. The applicator should be wet enough to produce a fairly dark line but not so wet that the primer drips. Place the pieces where they will not get dirty. If debris sticks to the primer, it will be difficult to join the pipes.
Step 4: Add Cement
Apply cement to the inside of one fitting opening and to the end of one pipe. Work quickly — the cement starts to set up in a few seconds.
Step 5: Fit Pipe
Push the pipe into the fitting and twist so the alignment marks line up. Hold for a few seconds, then wipe with a damp cloth. In a minute the joint will be strong enough so you can assemble the next piece. After 15 minutes you can run unpressurized wastewater through the pipes.