Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is a homeowner's dream material to use when performing plumbing work; it is low cost and easy to work with in almost all situations. However, if you accidentally break PVC pipe while digging a hole in your yard, then you face a potentially tricky situation because it must be repaired in a restricted space. The limited, cramped confines at the bottom of a hole make replacing a broken section of PVC difficult. However, there is a solution: the four 90s method. This is a simple, low-cost means of repairing a section of broken PVC pipe in limited space. Below is how homeowners can use the four 90s method to implement an effective, fast repair of broken PVC pipe:
Tools and materials needed
Four (4) Ninety-degree Schedule 40 PVC elbow fittings in the same diameter as the broken pipe
Section of Schedule 40 PVC pipe in the same diameter as the broken pipe
Plastic pipe deburring tool
Shop towel or other clean rag
Spade or shovel
1. Stabilize the repair site - the first task after breaking a section of PVC pipe during digging is to stabilize the site. If the pipe is carrying water for a sprinkler system or a potable supply, then shutting off the main water valve may be necessary to stop the leak. In addition, during the process, carefully remove the soil around the broken PVC pipe to determine the extent of the damage. Finally, allow the water to drain from the hole or remove it using a bucket or pump.
2. Remove the broken pipe - once you determine the area of damage, use a pair of PVC pipe cutters to make two clean cuts across the line to remove the broken section. Carefully inspect the pipe ends to ensure you removed all of the damaged pipe before proceeding.
3. Prepare the pipe ends for repair - with a shop towel or other cloth, wipe away any dirt or debris remaining on the ends of the PVC pipe. Once the ends are clean, use a plastic pipe deburring tool to remove any rough edges or burs.
4. Install the first pair of elbow fittings - apply a thin layer of PVC primer to the inside of one of the 90-degree elbow fittings, then apply PVC solvent on top of the primer. Next, apply primer and solvent to one of the pipe ends. Push the elbow fitting on the end of the pipe, twist it back and forth slightly, and position it so that its open end faces directly up. Repeat these same steps with another 90-degree elbow fitting and the remaining pipe end. If performed correctly, each end of the pipe should have an elbow fitting with the open ends facing upward.
5. Measure and cut the PVC pipe needed - measure the distance between the two closest points of the elbow fittings you just installed. Lay out this same measurement on a new piece of PVC pipe in the same diameter as the broken pipe; cut the pipe to length with the PVC cutters.
Next, measure and cut two 3-inch sections of PVC pipe. Use the deburring tool to smooth the ends of the three pipe sections you just cut.
6. Assemble the remaining repair pieces - apply PVC primer and cement to the insides of the remaining two elbow fittings and to the outside ends of the three pipe sections you cut in step 5. Assemble the pieces by pushing one 3-inch section of pipe into each elbow fitting, then join the custom-length piece to the remaining open ends of the elbow fittings. This should provide you with an assembled section that resembles a squared-off letter "C"
7. Finish the repair - once the assembled repair section is complete, apply PVC primer and solvent to the outside edges of the 3-inch pipes; next, apply PVC primer and cement to the insides of the elbow fittings you installed in step 4. Push the assembled repair section down into the elbow fittings so the gap is bridged.
8. Inspect the final repair - after everything is assembled, take a close look at your work. Look for any gaps or areas where the pipe does not appear to be seated squarely in the fittings. Test the repair by slowly opening the water valve and permitting the line to pressurize. If you see any leaks, you may need to remove the leaking section or fitting and begin again at step 2.
If you need help with this project or any other broken pipes, contact a local plumbing company like Clean Plumbers BY Phillip Maurici Plumbing Inc.