How To Connect PVC Pipe Without Fittings

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

PVC pipe fittings are a convenient tool. They make it easier to accurately and securely connect PVC piping. Most of all, they are effective for taking apart PVC piping, too, taking a lot of the hassle out of the disconnection process.

But what if you don’t have fittings? Is there another way to connect PVC pipe without the use of those pipe fittings? There are a couple of methods that will work effectively, though each has its own set of benefits and downsides.

Do You Need to Hire a Plumber?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro plumber near you.

Have Fittings Ready

Before we go further, it is important to note that you should always have pipe fittings whenever possible. They were created specifically for this use and the process only becomes a bit more difficult to execute without them.

Even if you manage to get the PVC piping connected, there is the question of removing them. For some of these methods, keep in mind that removing the PVC piping may prove to be far more difficult than connecting them.

The most effective alternative to using pipefitters is to use some sort of industrial glue or liquid concrete. If properly connected, the adhesive should keep the pipe joints securely together permanently.

Step 1: Make Your Cuts

If you plan on connecting PVC joints without the use of fittings, it is of the utmost importance that you ensure that the cuts are square. When the pipe ends are square and fit snuggly into the fittings, it provides enough of a contact area for the liquid cement to work.

Not only does it allow for proper adhesion, but the interior surface of the pipe will also be smoother, allowing for a better quality of water flow. There are plenty of options for making the cuts. A miter saw is fine but there are also special tub cutters out there specifically designed to create accurate, square cuts.

For the best possible results, use a 3-4-inch wide saw with fine teeth. Stay away from hacksaws because the blades are narrow and can wander. If you do a lot of plumbing work, make the investment in a specific pipe cutter. If not, a fine-tooth saw will do just as well.

Step 2: Sand Out the Burrs

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to pipe fitting is that no deburring is done. Deburring is the act of removing any loose or jagged pieces of material from the ends of the pipe. By sanding down the ends of the pipe, you create a smooth surface for adherence.

Take your time and properly sand using 80-grit sandpaper. If there is any debris that collects on the inside of the tube, it may not secure properly. This is what leads to leaking and other damage to the PVC piping.

Step 3: Mark Your Pipes

This is a crucial step because the adhesive that you use will likely only allow a few seconds before drying. If you spend that time lining things up and trying to figure out where they need to connect, you’ll wind up with dried concrete before you ever connect them.

Mark out your alignment on the PVC joints beforehand to save yourself time and trouble. If you need to, bring out a torpedo level to get a more precise alignment. You will use these marks to designate the connection point and you can get the adhesive in place without worrying about it drying first.

Step 4: Push and Twist

When you have your marks set and ready to go, it is time to put on the adhesive. Put an even layer of liquid cement over any of the mating surfaces. Putting it on one surface of the joints may not be strong enough for complete adhesion.

It is also a good idea to wipe down the surfaces of the joints beforehand. This is meant to clean off any additional dirt or debris that can collect on the surface, preventing a clean and even seating. When you’re confident that the surfaces are clean, spread an even layer of the liquid cement onto those surfaces. Keep it even because you don’t want any excess cement being pushed into the water piping.

When you have the adhesive in place, line the fitting up with your marks but make sure that they are around a quarter of a turn away from where they will wind up. As you are pressing the pipe into place, then turn that last quarter. Twisting helps to spread out the adhesive evenly, allowing for a more solid connection.

A More Creative Method

There are serious downsides to using liquid cement in place of fittings. The most obvious reason is that after the liquid cement has taken hold, it can be quite difficult to get off. Keep that in mind because if there comes a time where you need to replace that joint, it could make for a day of difficult work.

So, in order to avoid using those strong adhesives, amateurs may be looking for a more creative way to properly fit the piping together in the wake of using fittings. Keep in mind that these are meant to be temporary solutions. If you want a longer-lasting solution, either come back with fittings or use liquid cement to properly secure everything.

Drilling and Pinning

If you want to get really creative about it, try fitting the pieces together that you want and drilling a hole through both sides. When you have gone all the way through, use a slide pin in the newly created hole. The point here is that should you need to remove that connection, all that needs to be done is to pull the pin and disconnect the joint.

This is actually a surprisingly effective measure for keeping the mating parts immobile. Most of all, it is best for implementing joints that may need frequent deconstructing. With liquid cement or another industrial adhesive, it may not even be possible to disconnect the two joints without having to replace them entirely.

Drilling and pinning may not be the most effective method of long-term solutions. There are sturdier, more durable methods that will hold up for a much longer shelf life.

Do You Need to Hire a Plumber?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro plumber near you.

Using Fasteners

Perhaps you are looking to make your connection without fittings but want to come back later on to attach them. You can securely, yet temporarily, make those connections using some type of fastener, primarily screws.

The best part about this method is that it allows you to use fittings later on or to reposition the connection for whatever reason. It provides flexibility and ease of removal later on down the line.

There are caveats, though. The first is that it isn’t as strong as the liquid cement method. The second is that it won’t work for your internal-fit components. This covers dome caps and couplings.

To pull this off, sampling insert the pipe into its connecting piece and use a mallet to ensure that it is fully seated. From here, drill a 1/8-inch hole, going about midway to where the connections will meet and then use a driver or power drill and a threaded screw that is just long enough to go into the hole you created.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

More by Ryan Womeldorf