How To Bend PVC Pipe With Hot Sand (Quickly & Easily!)
PVC pipes are all around us. PVC pipes are made of strong yet lightweight material, making them a staple in the construction industry. You’ll see PVC pipes being used for siding, window frames, or water mains. And because of PVC pipes’ strong resistance to outside influences such as weather or chemicals, PVC pipes are often used with sewage pipes and water irrigation.
PVC pipes, or polyvinyl chloride pipes, are known for their durability. You can cut, drill, paint, and easily connect PVC pipes, making them a favorite for home DIY projects. You can even bend your PVC pipe to your desired shape. No tools needed!
To bend a PVC pipe using hot sand, first cap one end. Using a funnel, pour the heated sand into the open end. When the sand begins to spill out the open end, close that end as well. With both ends closed, bend the PVC pipe to the desired shape. Hold in place until you set the PVC pipe’s shape or until the sand inside has cooled.
How to Bend PVC Pipes with Hot Sand
PVC pipes will become soft around 170 – 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Rather than heating the pipes directly, you can soften the PVC pipes by filling them with hot sand. By using this method, the PVC pipes bend without collapsing.
Remember, once the PVC pipe is hot, it only remains bendable for about 15 minutes. Be prepared to hold the PVC pipe in the desired shape until the temperature cools. Depending on your workload, you may opt for a homemade bending board or shaping jig.
A bending board is a slab of wood with screws, nails, or dowels placed strategically throughout. Shape your PVC pipe using the standing screws to hold it in place. A shaping jig is optional, but could be helpful.
- Heat protective gloves
- Electrical tape or PVC pipe end cap
Step One: Close One End of the PVC Pipe
Close one end of the PVC pipe with a PVC pipe cap. If you don’t have a PVC pipe cap, use a piece of electrical tape.
Step Two: Heat the Sand
Once you have closed one end of the PVC pipe, you can measure how much sand you will need. Using a funnel, pour the room temperature sand into the PVC pipe. When the sand nears the top of the pipe, pour it into a separate receptacle. Now, you know how much sand you will need to heat.
Decide whether you are going to heat the sand on the stove or in the oven. For the oven, pour the sand into an oven-safe container and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes. For the stovetop, pour the sand into a pot and heat on high, sifting continuously for 5-7 minutes. The sand should be hot to the touch so use your heat-protective gloves.
Step Three: Pour the Hot Sand into the PVC Pipe
Stand your PVC pipe vertically with the closed end on the floor. If you’re working with a larger PVC pipe, try propping the PVC pipe against something heavy, like a wall or refrigerator. Using the funnel, pour the heated sand into the PVC pipe. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Step Four: Close the Other End of the PVC Pipe
When the hot sand is just a few inches from spilling out the open side, close it with a cap or electrical tape. Make sure both ends of the pipe are securely taped.
Step Five: Shape Your PVC Pipe
Once you have capped both ends, the PVC pipe will only continue to get warmer with the heat trapped inside. Shape your PVC pipe as desired. Your PVC pipe will be the most malleable in the first 15 minutes, after which it will become harder to adjust the shape.
Step Six: Set the Shape
After achieving the desired shape for your PVC pipe, hold it in position for up to 15 minutes. The PVC pipe’s new shape will set when the sand inside cools. Pouring out the sand will speed up the cooling process, but that may be difficult while still holding the shape in place.
If you can’t hold the PVC pipe in place (due to the size or workload), build a shaping jig at home. Sometimes calling a bending board, a shaping jig is simply a slab of wood with protruding dowels. These dowels hold the malleable PVC pipe in place while the new shape sets. A shaping jig can be useful for both efficiency and consistency when bending PVC pipes.
There are several methods you can use to alter a PVC pipe. If sand isn’t readily available to you, there are a couple of options that are a bit more accessible.
A kettle is perfect for getting your pipes nice and soft! Once your kettle is going, attach the PVC pipe to the kettle so that the pipe fills with hot steam. Cap the end of the pipe to speed up the process. It should only take a couple of minutes before the PVC pipe is bendy.
Similar to the hot sand method, cap one end of the PVC pipe and pour boiling water into the other end. When the boiling water has begun to spill out the open end, close that side as well. The PVC pipe will become softer as the boiling water heats the pipe from the inside.
Shape the PVC pipe as desired. Hold the pipe in place until the temperature has cooled. Once the temperature has cooled and the PVC pipe is set in its new position, uncap one end and pour the water out. This method works best on thinner PVC pipes.
A heat gun isn’t always available, but if you find yourself bending a lot of PVC pipes, consider investing in a heat gun. Heat guns range from $20 to $300, so you can find one that fits your needs. If your PVC pipe is small enough, a hairdryer will work.
Simply plug your heat gun into the nearest outlet and concentrate it on the area of the pipe that you want to bend. When the material has reached the desired temperature, shape the pipe and hold it in place. A heat gun or hairdryer is a quick way to bend PVC, but they’re not without limitations. Using a heat gun leaves you with just one free hand to manipulate the pipe.
Kinks in the Pipe
When bending a PVC pipe, the most common issue is kinking. If you bend the pipe at too sharp an angle, it will get a kink (or dimple) where it bent. This small kink compromises the strength of your PVC. When too much pressure is applied, the PVC pipe will collapse.
The easiest way to combat this problem is to fill the empty space in the PVC pipe. Before you bend the PVC pipe, make sure it is full of sand or water. This will reinforce the pipe’s cylindrical shape as you bend and adjust it.
Setting the Shape
If you are dealing with heavier or longer PVC pipes, you may find it challenging to hold them in place long enough for the new shape to set. Use threaded rope or a shaping jig to set the shape of your PVC.
When researching how to bend PVC pipes, you’ll see several tutorials using exhaust pipes or ovens. While these methods can work and have been used throughout history, they carry potential safety hazards. With current developments, we no longer need to resort to dangerous or unsafe methods.
When burned, PVC plastic produces carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes. The dioxins released from the PVC are among the most toxic chemicals made by man and cause cancer and congenital disabilities. Remember to burn PVC pipes in a well-ventilated area.
Wear protective gloves when bending your PVC pipe. PVC becomes malleable at temperatures upward of 170 degrees. If it’s hot enough to bend, it’s hot enough to burn.
What is the ideal temperature for bending PVC pipes?
PVC pipes begin to soften at 170 degrees Fahrenheit. PVC pipes become malleable around 200 degrees. At this temperature, you can adjust the pipe to have a slight bend. At 220 degrees, you can bend the pipe into tighter angles, such as a 90-degree turn. Applying high temperatures of more than 250 degrees could result in the pipe melting or collapsing.
Can you bend PVC pipes without using heat?
Polyvinyl chloride is extremely strong. It’s rigid, durable, and able to withstand high pressure, which is why it is so popular in the construction industry. The main drawback is that PVC pipes cannot withstand hot water. Since the material is only susceptible to hot water: no, there is no way to effectively bend PVC pipes without using heat.
Does heating PVC weaken it?
Although PVC is incredibly strong, the pipe will degrade if repeatedly subjected to high temperatures. PVC pipes are made to last about 50 years at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a normal temperature for residential pipes. PVC pipes can begin to melt at 250 degrees Fahrenheit, severely compromising its strength.If you bend the PVC pipe at a right angle, you may notice a kink or dimple form. A kink in your PVC pipe can tamper with the pressure and jeopardize the sturdiness. Avoid kinking your PVC pipe by using the hot sand method.
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