How to Repair PVC Pipe in the Ground

Polyvinyl Chloride pipes (PVC) are used in residential plumbing systems are drains, vents, and waste piping. These pipes are typically identified by their white or cream color. The PVC pipes are easy to connect as they allow the use of couplings and solvent cement that melts the surface layer of these pipes to bond the material together.

Although these pipes are known for their durability and are easy to work with, they can leak or break, especially when installed underground. For most PVC pipe damages, repairs can be done to the existing pipe to keep the leak under control.

But if the damage is extensive, replacement of the entire pipe may be necessary. To help you navigate the repair or replacement of your underground PVC pipes, we have put together detailed yet simple to follow steps.

What are the Common Reasons for PVC Pipe Leaks in the Ground?

Before we look into how to repair your leaking underground PVC pipe, let’s see what are the most common causes of PVC pipe repairs and replacements:

Improper installation

If your PVC pipe is not installed in the correct way onto the joining pipe, a leak is likely to occur. The leaking is often caused by a loose-fitting which allows water to seep through.

Freezing temperatures

Even though PVC is resistant to freezing, it can still become brittle and damaged under extremely cold temperatures, especially during winter. So, if you live in a region that experiences extremely cold temperatures, be sure to insulate your PVC pipes to prevent damage during the winter season.

Use of the wrong adhesive glue

When installing your PVC pipes, ensure you buy the right PVC cement so that it does not depreciate prematurely or when exposed to adverse weather elements. So, before you purchase your PVC adhesive glue, read the label to confirm it is designed to adhere to PVC. Keep in mind that even the correct adhesive glue will eventually deteriorate but with old age and will, therefore, require a repair.

Why is it Necessary to Know How to Repair PVC Pipes Located Underground?

As we have already found out, PVC pipes are usually used in residential yards for drains, vents, and waste piping owing to their durability and resistance to rust. So, if you know how to fix PVC pipe in the ground when damaged can save you quite a lot of money.

Ideally, some repairs are easy while some may need replacements thus contracting a professional plumber becomes necessary. However, this will all depend on how extensive the leak or crack is. Regardless, it is always worth giving it a shot first before replacing or calling in a plumber.

How to Repair PVC Pipe in the Ground

How to repair a PVC Pipe with Rubber or Silicone Repair Tape

Silicone or rubber repair tape is a thick, heavy-duty tape that sticks to itself. Additionally, it is stretchy and a bit gummy thus can easily be stretched. The rubber tape works perfect on cracks in a PVC pipe than on leaking joints.

Steps to follow when using silicone or rubber repair tape

Step 1: Clean and dry the pipe

Using a clean damp rag, wipe down the pipe or fitting to make it clean and dried. Your rubber tape has a higher chance of success if it forms a close-fitting bond directly against the PVC pipe.

Step 2: Wrap with Repair Tape

Carefully cut a piece of silicon tape and wrap it very tightly around the leaking PVC pipe. Be sure to extend the tape wraps well beyond the repair area on either side. The best thing about using the repair tape is that it can be wrapped directly in a spiral fashion for a substantial distance if there be a lengthy split on the pipe to ensure the damaged area is properly secured.

The downside of using silicone tape is that it can be a bit difficult to use it in tight spaces, especially where you require to cut a length of tape and thread it around a sizable part around the pipe.

Step 3: Test the Repair

Open the shut-off valve and let the water run through the drain and see whether the repair area is leaking. Keep in mind that your rubber and silicone tape is just a temporary fix and you will require replacing the damaged section of the pipe or fitting soon enough.

How to Repair a PVC Piper Using Repair Epoxy

Repair epoxies are designed to bond to PVC and other plastics. The repair epoxy usually comes in both putty and liquid forms in a syringe. If you are having a leaking fitting in your plumbing systems, it is the best solution. Additionally, it works best on pipe cracks as well.

Steps to follow when using repair epoxy

Step 1: Clean and dry the pipe

Using a damp clean cloth, thoroughly clean the exposed pipe or fitting. Make sure it has fully dried up before applying the epoxy. The epoxy will make a strong bond to a pipe that is clean and dry.

Step 2: Mix the repair epoxy

Mix the epoxy patch material as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Often, these kinds of products are two-part formulas, which require mixing a hardener or catalyst into an epoxy resin to form an activated patch material.

The epoxy material that comes in the syringe-form is self-mixing whenever you depress the plungers on tubes that are parallel connected. The syringe products usually produce a liquid epoxy material that is applied over the repair area right from the syringe applicator.

However, there are other epoxies that require you to hand-mix to create a putty-like repair material that can then be spread over the repair area with a disposable putty knife or craft stick.

Liquid epoxy is designed to be thinner than putty and is perfect for repairing leaks in tight spaces, such as drain pipes passing through holes in studs. The downside of the repair epoxy is that you have a limited amount of time to work with.

So, once you mix it, move straight to the exposed pipe that requires repair.

Step 3: Apply the epoxy

Thoroughly coat the affected area of the pipe where the leak is happening. If repairing a joint, it is recommended to run a bead of epoxy around the whole joint.

Step 4: Allow to cure, then test

Make sure the epoxy has hardened as directed by the manufacturer. Most epoxy types set in within 25 minutes while others can take up to an hour to attain full strength. Once the epoxy has hardened completely, open the shut-off valve to allow water to run and check to ensure no leaking is happening.

How to Fix a PVC Pipe with Fiberglass Wrap

Fiberglass wrap is a fiberglass cloth that is coated with water-activated resin. It has proved to be the best for patching small leaks in the walls of a PVC pipe than fixing leaky joints.

Steps to follow when using fiberglass resin tape to repair PVC pipe

Step 1: Clean and dry the pipe

Using a clean dry cloth, wipe to clean the pipe of any residue and moisture. The patch fabric bonds strong when wrapped on a pipe that is free of contaminants.

Step 2: Cut and apply the wrap

Cut a sizable piece of fiberglass tape and wrap it to fit around the repair area. Be sure to wet the fiberglass fabric before wrapping it tightly around the pipe where it is leaking. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best results. To ensure better repair of the leak, wrap at least 2 inches on each side of the repair area.

Step 3: Allow the wraps to harden

Allow the activated resin in the fiberglass wrap to completely harden. For most fiberglass materials, they take about at most 20 minutes to fully harden.

How to repair a PVC Pipe with Rubber and Hose Clamps

A thick piece of rubber and a few hose clamps can make a good temporary repair of a PVC pipe in the ground. This repair technique is most ideal when a leak is isolated to one area and the pipe is not split down a length of a joint or piece of pipe.

For instance, an old bicycle inner tube makes a good source of patching rubber. Moreover, this repair is perfect on smooth sections of the pipe, where the rubber can easily make full contact with the pipe surface. However, it doesn’t work well on contours or on edges where fittings join the pipe.

Steps to follow when using rubber and hose clamps to repair PVC pipe

Step 1: Clean the pipe

Use a clean dry cloth to clean the pipe by thoroughly wiping. Dry the pipe around the repair section.

Step 2: Cut a rubber patch

Use a utility knife and cut a patch of sheet rubber to fit around the leaking area. Be sure to wrap rubber over the leaking area of the pipe before clamping.

Step 3: Attach the hose clamps

Undo a pair of worm-gear hose clamps completely and position them over the pipe and rubber patch. Position the clamps directly over the ends of the crack in the pipe then tighten the hose clamps until the rubber is completely compressed. When positioned correctly, the clamps should completely seal the crack on the pipe.

Step 4: Test the repair

Open the main valve to allow the water to run through the drain and see whether the area leaks again. Keep in mind that this is a stop-gap measure and it is best to get the damaged pipe or fitting replaced soon enough.

How Do you Replace PVC Pipes or Fittings?

The most ideal way to repair small leaks is to cut out the damaged part of the pipe or the bad fitting and insert a new pipe or fitting in its place. This is what most professional plumbers do the make the repair. However, if you have some experience with DIY, you can easily do it as well.

Ideally, the process involves cutting out the bad section of the pipe using a PVC tubing cutter. Assemble and install a new section of pipe or fitting using PVC primer solvent glue. The connection to the existing pipe is made with solvent-glued union fittings.

You can also use repair couplings that have replacement pipe’s fittings. Once you cut out the damaged section of the pipe, install the repair coupling in its place with solvent glue or push-fit connections. This technique is particularly useful for repairing damaged PVC lawn irrigation pipes.

Conclusion

We all never want our PVC pipes in the ground to break, unfortunately, it does happen. So, keep an eye on your yard, especially where you plant your trees and other plants because tree roots are notorious for breaking and rupturing PVC pipes.

Whenever you find water flooding your yard, take quick action to find its source. Finding its source early is better than later.PVC pipes are durable and excellent material to use for pipes in residential yards and fortunately easy to repair in most instances.

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