How To Repair PVC Pipe In Tight Spaces (Do This!)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

PVC piping can be found in almost any home in the country, and rightfully so. It’s resilient, affordable, and a perfect pick for most plumbing projects. Unfortunately, it can be pretty hard to repair at times. In most cases, you will need to replace it entirely. The problem, of course, is reaching the piping you have to reach. Some spaces are super small. So, what can you do?

After turning off the water supply and draining out the water, determine where the damaged pipe is. Then, follow these steps below:

  • Cut away any drywall or other items blocking you from seeing and accessing the pipe. 
  • Apply tape to areas that need a minor fix.
  • If you need a larger fix, cut out the damaged portion and gently pull it out.
  • Replace the broken part with a new pipe and epoxy it in place. 
  • Repair the drywall, if necessary. 

Each broken PVC pipe will have its own unique fix that needs to be done. Thankfully, we can offer you some decent advice for almost every situation.

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How To Fix Minor Issues With PVC Pipe

One of the good things about PVC pipe is that it’s remarkably resilient and easy to fix. If you have a minor leak, then most of the time, you just need to have some tape and nimble fingers on hand. These three options can help you make the most of your quick, petite fixes…

Rubber Tape

Rubber tape has long been the go-to for people who need to fix minor leaks. To use this, stretch the tape over the portion of your PVC pipe in need of repairs, and then add a little bit extra on all sides. The tape should be wrapped entirely around the circumference of your pipe, and should extend at least two inches from either side of the leak.

Fiberglass Tape

Fiberglass tape works a lot like rubber tape, but with one little difference: it’s water-activated resin that binds to your piping, rather than sticky glue. To use it, wrap your broken portion with it and wait at least 15 minutes for it to cure. Once it’s cured, you have a new layer of resin that acts as a barrier against water. This makes fiberglass a better option for long-term fixes.

Hose Clamps

Hose clamps are a temporary fix, usually in an “Oh crap I gotta make sure this leak doesn’t get worse” matter. With hose clamps, you will need to get a more permanent fix later. This is just to bind the stuff together until you can put together a more permanent fix. With these, you just need to twist the clamps around the area.

Saddle Repair Kits

A saddle repair kit is designed to use PVC cement on the inside and outside of the cracked pipe. To use it, grab your kit and a small brush, then apply a PVC primer. After the primer dries, apply the PVC cement inside and outside, until it’s been solidified as a part of the pipe. You may need to press the cement to the PVC and go through several passes before you get the results you want.

Saddle repair kits are good if you have larger leaks that don’t entirely warrant a replacement. If you need a major repair but don’t need a replacement, chances are you can use a saddle kit.

Major Repairs

Of course, there are going to be moments where tape just won’t be enough. There may be a pervasive crack in the pipe, a major issue with the pipe’s stability, or even fire damage to it. Whatever it is, there’s a good chance that you can fix it by replacing the pipe. Here’s how.

  • Pinpoint the area that has the leak and prep the place. Find the leak source (if you haven’t already) and turn off the water. Release any water that could potentially damage the area, and give the area a wipedown if necessary.
  • Use a small knife or saw (like a keyhole saw) to cut the offending part of the piping out of the system. Grab the part of the plumbing and slowly extricate it.
  • Measure the length of the removed pipe, and get a pipe that’s the same length or slightly larger. Your goal here is to dry-fit it and make sure it’s capable of working with your system. Once you have a properly fitted pipe, toss out the old pipe.
  • Grab your saddle kit and affix the new PVC pipe to the rest of the plumbing using cement. You may need to have clips to keep the pipe in place while it dries.
  • Check to make sure that it’s in place and cured before you turn the water back on. Waiting an hour or adding extra layers f cement can help.

When Should You Replace A PVC Pipe?

Replacement is usually a go-to option when you have a pipe that is totally clogged or a pipe that has cracked. Any time that you have a very large, gaping hole in your plumbing, having a replacement makes sense. On a similar note, if you tried to fix it through other means without any good results, a replacement might make sense.

If you aren’t sure whether or not the pipe can be taped, give the tape a try first. Most of the time, taping is meant to be done with holes that are very small. Saddle repair kits are good for holes that are slightly larger, but still repairable. If you can’t tape it well, all you have is the pipe’s replacement to try next.

Tips For Working In Small Spaces

Working with PVC piping in a small space can be very difficult, if not downright nerve-wracking. If you love doing it yourself, then a little bit of guidance can go a long, long way. Here’s what you should be aware of:

  • You should invest in a quality saw made for shorter spaces. There are several types of saws that work through the use of heat-releasing lasers that are made for working in tight spaces. They are called pipe cutters. If you regularly find yourself working with PVC, this is a good long-term investment. Make sure to cut the PVC pipe straight.
  • When holding pipes together, get creative with the ways you hold them. A V-block, a vise, or even a pair of tongs can be incredibly useful here.
  • Keep a deburring tool or sandpaper on hand. When you cut piping, you are going to get errant PVC burs. These can pose a danger for your hands or the hands of future repairmen. To make sure you have a smooth transition, get sandpaper to remove the burrs.
  • Remove and isolate any potential water before you start your work. Water can make it difficult to keep your tape stuck in place. If you’re using PVC cement or resin-backed tape, then you will have an even harder time with repairs. Drying your piping is a must, even if it’s annoying to do so.
  • Never apply PVC cement without priming the area first. The primer is going to be a major part of your repairs. Without it, the cement may not hold and may even go so far as to contaminate the plumbing.

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Related Questions

Will Gorilla Glue fix PVC piping?

Gorilla Glue does make some products that are excellent for repairing PVC pipes, but not all products fit into this category. To get the best possible results on your PVC pipe repair, it’s best to use Gorilla Glue cement. This has the chemistry required to adhere to PVC plastic, which makes it one of the more reliable glues on the market for quick and easy repairs.When choosing a glue product for your repairs, it’s important to pick one that is labeled for PVC and plastic use.

Can a water leak stop on its own?

Recently, a rumor took hold on the net that suggested that many leaks will just stop dripping if you leave them alone. As much as it would be lovely to assume that leaks can stop on their own, the truth is that this rumor is patently false. A leak that is ignored won’t stop leaking. If anything, it will grow.If you have reason to believe a leak is occurring in your home, you should not try to wait it out. Addressing the leak is one of the only ways to make sure that you don’t end up with mold damage in your home. The sooner you fix it, the better.

How long will it take for PVC glue to set in?

PVC glue is designed to be fast-setting, but not so fast setting that you can end up with a mishap. You will need to hold the pipes together for 30 seconds so that the pipes can join. From there, you will need another 15 minutes for the glue to harden. It fully cures in a total of two hours, though you can start running water through the area shortly after the glue hardens.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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