If you tinker with DIY projects or build professionally, you will often come across PVC pipes in furniture, plumbing, and much more. PVC pipes are handy for almost any project, so you can save time if you know how to bend PVC pipes properly.
You can use a heat gun or boiling water to bend PVC pipes with heat. When using a heat gun to bend PVC pipes, mark the points where you want to apply the heat and fill the pipe with enough sand to cover 2-3 inches above the bend. Next, heat 2-3 inches from the pipe and regularly turn it to heat the inner and outer bend. Finally, bend the pipe slowly to its desired shape and allow it to cool.
When using boiling water to bend PVC pipes, boil water in a kettle until steam comes out. Then, place the pipe end on the kettle spout for 5 minutes to allow steam to pass through. Finally, gradually bend to its desired shape and let it cool.
What Are PVC Pipes?
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a chlorinated hydrocarbon polymer material with a brittle and rigid structure. When combined with plasticizers to make PVC pipes, it becomes malleable and resilient.
PVC pipes can be used in many applications, such as medical tubing, furniture, and electrical insulation. However, it is mainly used as pipes to channel irrigation, water supply, and plumbing. Different types of PVC conduits are also used for hot and cold water.
Safety Tips Before Bending PVC Pipes
PVC pipes produce harmful vapors and fumes when heated, such as carbon monoxide and chlorinated furans. So, you must wear a gas mask and safety goggles when bending PVC pipes in a well-ventilated area. Additionally, it is best to use heat-proof gloves to protect your skin when handling heated PVC.
You should also avoid using a direct flame to heat PVC. Vinyl chloride is a carcinogenic substance safely sealed in the PVC polymer, but it is released in the air when PVC is aflame.
How to Bend PVC Pipes
Using a Heat Gun
1. Mark the Points
Mark the center of the desired bend on your PVC pipe, then mark 6-8 inches again from that point on either side. The region in between these points is where you need to apply heat. Remember to keep any bends at least 3-5 inches away from any joints.
2. Fill the PVC Pipe with Sand
Fill the PVC pipe with enough sand to cover 2-3 inches above the planned bend. You may need to block the pipe ends with sand to prevent it from falling out. Instead of sand, you can also insert a spring into the pipe at the point where you want to bend.
3. Apply Heat
Use your heat gun to apply heat equally around the planned bend, about 2-3 inches away from the pipe to prevent burns. Regularly turn the pipe to apply heat to the inner and outer bend. The sand will give you more time to heat the pipe as it keeps its form.
4. Bend the Pipe
Bend the pipe slowly and apply heat as required. Repeat this process until the pipe reaches its desired shape.
5. Cool the Pipe
Finally, remove the sand and allow the pipe to cool. Do not bend the pipe after removing the sand, or else it may warp and crack.
Using Boiling Water
If you do not have a heat gun, you can use boiling water to make a PVC pipe flexible for bending. To bend PVC pipes using boiling water, follow these simple steps:
- Boil water in a kettle until steam comes out.
- Place a pipe end on the kettle spout to allow the steam to pass straight through the pipe.
- Leave the pipe on the steam for about 5 minutes and gradually bend it into its desired shape.
- Allow the PVC pipe to cool down.
Tips for Using PVC Pipes
After learning to bend PVC pipes, you can use them to build fully functional sinks, toilets, and sewers. However, there is still so much more to working with PVC pipes. Here are some common tips for using PVC pipes:
- Use a handsaw to cut the PVC pipe, then smoothen the inside of the pipe to remove any rough edges.
- The pipe and fittings should be dry assembled.
- Draw marks across pipe and fittings using a felt-tip marker.
- Use a PVC primer to clean the pipe end and inside of the fittings.
- Apply PVC cement to the pipe and the inside of the fittings.
- Glued connections between PVC pipes should be immediately assembled, ensuring that the positioning lines are aligned.
- Hold the assembly in place for about three seconds.
Frequently Asked Questions
At What Temperature Does PVC Soften?
Generally, PVC softens at around 100o C without kinking. However, the exact temperature varies depending on the polymer composition and thickness of the material.
How Do You Bend PVC Pipe Without Kinking It?
To avoid kinking, you can insert sand into the PVC pipe 2-3 inches above the planned bend. Alternatively, you can insert a spring into the PVC pipe at the point where you want it to bend.
How Do You Bend a PVC Pipe into an Arch?
You can bend PVC pipes into an arch after heating them with a heat gun or boiling water. To make larger arches, cut the PVC pipes with a hacksaw, anchor them into holes, and connect them with pipe fittings.
Can PVC Conduit Be Bent?
PVC conduits can be bent up to 90 degrees after heating them with a heat gun or boiling water. Apply heat where you want it to bend and use sand or a spring to keep it from kinking.
What Size PVC Is Bendable?
You can bend a variety of PVC pipe sizes, but ¾ inches is most versatile for projects that require a lot of flexibility.
PVC pipes are often used in building projects for their flexibility, so bending them is inherently easy. All you need to do is mark where to bend, use a heat gun or boiling water, bend the pipe, and let it cool down. Still, you must wear appropriate safety equipment and operate in a well-ventilated area to avoid harmful fumes.