Tips for Plumbing With Plastic Pipe

Tips for Plumbing With Plastic Pipe

Do you wish to understand the basics of plumbing with plastic pipes? Are you looking for tips and guidance to help your project go smoother? This article by My Plumber provides an overview of the necessary tools and materials needed for successful installation of plastic pipe. Get the information you need to be on your way to becoming a pro!

Here are the tools and materials you will need.

Understanding Types of Plastic Pipes

Using plastic pipes for plumbing has become a popular choice for buyers and homeowners alike due to the wide range of advantages plastic piping offers. There are many types of plastic pipes available, each with varying levels of resistance to environmental conditions and compatibility with other materials. Learning the differences between each type is important in order to make the right choice when deciding which type will best suit your plumbing needs.

The three main types of plastic pipes available today are CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride), PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene). Each type has its own distinct characteristics which make them suitable for different applications:

  • CPVC: CPVC is a thermoplastic that resists corrosion, remains flexible over time, and is highly resistant to both hot and cold temperatures. It can be used on hot water lines but is not recommended for use on drinking water lines due to potential health concerns associated with chlorine that leaches from the material. This type of pipe should be installed professionally as it requires temperature controlled glues and specialized tools.
  • PEX: PEX is a cross-linked polyethylene pipe which boasts superior flexibility and durability over traditional copper piping systems. It is easy to install as it does not require soldering or glue; instead, fittings are connected by compression or Crimp Rings which form a secure seal. PEX does not corrode or develop pinholes like copper can, making it an ideal material for bathroom fixtures like bidets, faucets, tubs, toilets and showers -all areas subject to high pressure or extreme temperatures. The insulated foam core also prevents freezing in colder climates while providing heat insulation in warmer climates-ideal for hot water lines since less energy is required to heat the water once it reaches its destination!
  • ABS: ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; it’s one of the most widely used forms of plastic used as piping today. ABS pipes commonly come in black or olive colors; they have excellent resistance to weathering elements such as sunlight, chemicals, biological contamination and most acids making them an ideal solution for drain lines both indoors and outdoors where small particles such as dirt might travel through the system causing damage or blockages. ABS offer very good temperature stability between -40 degrees Fahrenheit up tp 180 degrees Fahrenheit meaning they can withstand drastic changes when exposed to both hot and cold temperatures. Installation is easy since no special tools are needed; instead push-fitting joiners are used create secure connections -making them ideally suited for difficult-to-reach places where soldering may not be feasible.

Proper Cutting and Preparation of Plastic Pipes

Before you start any plumbing project that involves plastic pipe, it’s important to get a properly sized and cut piece of pipe. A clean cut will provide better connections to joints and won’t cause an obstruction or leak. To ensure you make the perfect cut, here are some tips for cutting and preparing plastic pipes:

  • Choose the Right Cutter: The first step in obtaining good cuts is utilizing the right tool. The type of cutter necessary depends on the type of plastic pipe being used. For example, if you are using PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipe, choose a ratchet-style PVC cutter as opposed to a hacksaw or scissors as they provide cleaner cuts without fraying or weakening the material.
  • Measure twice, Cut Once: Ensuring that your measurements are accurate is equally important in obtaining proper cuts. Using a measuring tape – or any other device – measure twice and mark twice before committing to any cut with your chosen tool.
  • Successful Cuts: Once the measurements have been determined and marked, use the designated cutter safely and accurately make your cuts by following these helpful steps:
    • Firmly hold the marked area in place against your work surface – such as a table or saw horse – firmly squeeze both sides of handle together in order to ensure full contact along cutting blade with pipeledge;
    • When doing multiple cuts use constant back-and-forth motion while maintaining firm pressure until full depth is reached; then rotate one more turn before releasing both handles completely – this will ensure cutting blade reaches desired depthof cut;
    • Finally separate blades from edges ofplasticpipe by pulling handle away from work surface firmly – this reduces chance for splitsorstretchesinfoilowingalreadycutpipe.

Proper Fitting Selection and Installation

The popularity of using plastic pipes for plumbing has increased in recent years, due to its low cost, ease of installation and resistance to corrosion. However, to achieve a successful outcome, certain steps must be taken to ensure the best possible fitment and a pressure-tight connection.

Fitting selection is key when selecting your plastic pipe material. Each type of pipe—CPVC, PVC, PEX or Polybutylene—will require its own fitting type. Additionally, each type of fitting within that material will also vary and selection is based on things like application, installation requirements and method of connection.

Ventilation is an important factor when installing plastic pipes. Plastic pipes require adequate ventilation to prevent air pockets from forming during installation; this helps redrying agents during glue cure times and helps prevent air being accumulated in the system supply lines after installation is complete.

When gluing together any type of plastic pipe it’s important to ensure a correct fitment by lightly sanding off any burrs around the pipe edge and fittings with sandpaper prior to assembly. When connecting pieces with solvent cement it’s important not to overapply as this can result in weakened joints that can cause leaks down the line. Lastly apply primer liberally not only around the joint but along the length of both cutting surfaces for best adhesion results before welding together pieces with connector sleeves or crimpenators.

Adhering to Local Plumbing Codes and Standards

When it comes to DIY plumbing projects, you should always adhere to local plumbing codes and standards. These codes are designed to protect the safety and health of your family, as well as maintain the lifespan and integrity of your property’s pipes. You can be at risk for hefty fines or unwanted complications if your planned project does not comply with local regulations.

Before staring any project using plastic pipes, make sure you have the appropriate permits from local authorities in hand. Additionally, it’s wise to get confirmation from the municipality that you chose supplies meet code, such as PEX pipe being certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. Other supplies should be NSF-approved or certified where applicable as well.

Make sure you are aware of all safety regulations pertaining to working with plastic pipes such as:

  • Ventilation requirements
  • Fire resistance ratings
  • Hazardous material warnings (if applicable)

Be sure to read all labels and instructions carefully before starting your project and double check that all bonding materials don’t come in contact with non-sanitary materials like flammable liquids or solvents during installation. Lastly, make sure that you know how to properly disconnect the system in case of an emergency or necessary maintenance work is required down the line.

Avoiding Common Mistakes With Plastic Pipe

When working with plastic pipe, it’s important to take care to avoid common mistakes that could lead to problems in your plumbing project. Here are a few tips on how to avoid some of the most common issues:

  • Always use pipe and fittings from the same manufacturer. Plastic pipes come in different sizes and wall thicknesses, so it’s important to make sure all components of a system match for safe installation.
  • Make sure you have the right glue for the job. Generally, polyurethane is used for PVC and CPVC pipes, while ABS requires specially formulated adhesive. Avoid using generic adhesives or you could end up damaging your piping.
  • Be aware of temperature differences. When installing plastic plumbing systems outdoors in cold climates, remember that water expands as it freezes. To avoid this, you’ll need to accommodate movement by allowing extra space along joints or installing expansion loops alongside longer runs of piping.
  • Take extra precautions when working around hot water lines. It’s important to use thermally rated materials such as crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) when running hot water lines through an area where temperatures may reach over 140°F (60°C). Failure to do so can result in serious injuries or property damage if heated pipes burst or melt due to heat exposure.

Following these steps can help prevent significant problems when dealing with plastic pipe during plumbing projects – be sure follow these guidelines whenever working with these materials for a successful outcome!

Considerations for Hot and Cold Water Systems

There are certain considerations when plumbing with plastic pipe for hot and cold water systems. Due to thermal expansion, both the hot and cold systems must have certain components to adjust for this expansion.

The primary components in a hot water system include:

  • An expansion tank to accommodate increase and decrease of water volume as it warms up or cools down;
  • A temperature and pressure relief valve to release excess pressure or hot water;
  • Pipe fittings that are rated for higher temperatures such as brass, stainless steel, or Ball Valves;
  • An anode rod within the hot water heater tank that helps protect against corrosion and rust.

In a typical cold water system, these items are not necessary but should still be considered:

  • If installing larger diameter pipe, brackets may be necessary as needed to properly support large sections of pipe;
  • A carbon filter between the main house shutoff valve and the kitchen faucet should be installed if you plan on having filtered drinking water from your kitchen faucet;
  • Shut off valves should be installed at each appliance location so that individual fixtures can be turned off without affecting the entire system;
  • Water supply tubing located in crawlspaces should have insulation sleeves covered with a UV blocking material such as PVC or metal conduit to protect from direct sunlight which can cause splits or cracks in tubing over time due to thermal expansion.

Importance of Proper Support and Hanging of Plastic Pipes

Plastic pipes are becoming increasingly popular for use in plumbing due to their wide range of benefits over traditional copper pipe. Although plastic pipes can provide some flexibility and ease of installation, they still require proper support and hanging in order to prevent damage or failure.

In order to make sure that the plastic pipes are properly supported and hinged, they must be secured at every joint. This may require the use of a PVC adhesive, an approved plastic strap, or an approved U-shaped saddle clip used with screws. Such devices will help to reduce stress on the welds and joints that can be caused by thermal expansion or contraction, water pressure, ground movement, pipe vibration during operation, or improper torqueing when connecting joints.

The support spacing for plastic pipes also depends on the type of pipe being installed as well as the application it is being used for (irrigation systems generally have more flexible requirements than plumbing systems). For standard plumbing systems such as those found in residential buildings or commercial establishments, spacing should always take into account not only local codes but also the types of pipes being used.

Plastic pipes should also be securely hung from overhead structures wherever possible and where practical; hanging straps rated for both vertical and horizontal loads must be used to ensure that all hanging points are secure and hold weight containing pipes properly. Regular inspection should take place whenever changes are made to piping runs to ensure that all requirements mandated by local regulations are met with respect to Support & Hang of Plastic Pipes.

Importance of Proper Ventilation

When plumbing with plastic pipe, it is essential to ensure that there is proper ventilation to avoid pressure buildup in the pipes. Not only can pressure buildup lead to damaged pipes and fittings, but if left unchecked, it may also result in significant damage to the structure of your property.

When installing plastic pipe, two or more vents should be installed above the highest water outlet. The location of vents may differ depending on the type of property and number of floors within the building. In order to provide sufficient air circulation, ventilation openings should be equal in size or larger than the diameter of the drainage pipe they are serving.

Additionally, any joint connections must be inspected and sealed with a caulking compound around each connection after installation to reduce potential leakage. This assures that the piping system remains completely sealed and secure against outside influences such as water pressure changes and debris deposited within it. Make sure that all vent points are adequately covered against water ingress so as not to cause backflow events due to blockages in the lines.

Proper Glue Selection and Application

When plumbing with plastic pipe, it’s important to select the correct glue for the project and apply it properly for a secure bond. Different types of glue should be selected for different types of plastic piping, such as PVC pipes, ABS pipes or PEX piping.

  • PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pipes require a specific type of glue that is specially formulated to adhere to plastic surfaces. PVC pipe cement is available in both white and purple varieties. The purple variety is designed specifically for outdoor applications and contains an ultraviolet inhibitor that helps prevent the bonding agent from degrading in sunlight. Application of the adhesive requires that you first clean off any dirt or debris from your tubing or fittings before applying a uniform bead around the circumference of your fittings using a brush or cloth applicator available at most hardware stores.
  • ABS: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) pipes are also used in plumbing, and require their own specific type of glue. As with PVC pipe cement, there are different varieties available; yellow variations are specifically designed to be used outdoors because they contain UVI inhibitors to protect against UV damage from sunlight exposure. When working with ABS pipes, warm them up by exposing them to hot water before application—this helps the glue spread more evenly across the surface when applied and provides greater holding power after hardening.
  • PEX: Polyethylene Cross-Linked (PEX) is popular because it’s very resistant to corrosion and can stand up well against cold temperatures as well as high water pressure. When using PEX piping, be sure to use special PEX glue as regular PVP glues will not form adequate bonds with PEX piping surfaces without destroying their flexible properties. To apply this type of adhesive, simply spread an even layer over both surfaces you plan on gluing together – no brushing necessary – and then connect the two pieces within 15 minutes before allowing them 24 hours sitting time prior to turning on your water supply again at full pressure for safe use thereafter.

By following these instructions when plumbing plastic pipe systems and selecting just the right adhesive for your project needs, you’ll make sure that whatever connections you make will remain strong and secure under pressure over time.

Maintenance and Longevity of Plastic Pipe Systems

Plastic pipe systems are a durable and long-lasting option for plumbing. When well maintained, they can last for decades without much difficulty. As with any plumbing system, though, proper maintenance is necessary to keep plastic pipes in good condition.

Regular checks on the pipe system should be part of your preventive maintenance program to ensure that your pipes remain in good shape for many years. Here are some tips to help you maintain your plastic pipe system:

  • Check for outside damage: Plastic pipes can be damaged by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or extreme temperatures from frost or other weather conditions. Visually inspect all plastic pipes periodically for signs of damage such as cracking or discoloration due to heat exposure.
  • Inspect gaskets and joiners: Any sealants and gaskets used with the fittings should be checked regularly to make sure they remain tight and secure. Check all joiners, such as elbows and tees, for potential leaks every few months.
  • Verify necessary pressure levels: If high pressures need to move through the system, higher than manufacturer recommended levels may be needed. You should check local regulations before raising pressures beyond standard recommended pressure ranges noted by the product manufacturer when dealing with plastic pipe systems.
  • Clean out debris buildup: Plastic pipelines can become clogged if not regularly maintained and cleaned out of debris build up over time; using pressurized water cleaning procedures on a regular basis helps prevent any clogs from developing in the line over time. Additionally, periodic chemical treatments can sometimes be helpful in tackling particularly stubborn blockages within a pipeline system as well as ensuring good hygienic levels throughout it at all times.


Fitting together plastic pipes correctly is an essential part of successful plumbing. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your pipe connections are reliable, leak-free and durable. To further enhance your pipe installation, consider using primer and adhesive to ensure your pipes maintain their seals over time.

It’s important to research local codes before beginning your project, as each region might impose different standards or requirements for any job involving plumbing. Ensure you have the right equipment for the job and undergo regular maintenance to keep your pipes in good condition for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using plastic pipe for plumbing?

Plastic pipe is lightweight, durable, and resistant to corrosion. It is also easy to install and much less expensive than metal pipe.

What types of plastic pipes are available for plumbing?

The main types of plastic pipes available for plumbing are Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS), and Polyethylene (PE).

Are there any special considerations when working with plastic pipe?

Yes, plastic pipe is sensitive to temperature changes so you should always make sure to use the proper adhesive and sealants when joining pieces together. You should also avoid using plastic pipe in areas where it could be exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight.