How to Join PVC Pipe to Copper Pipe

Written by billy brainard
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Connecting a major appliance to your home's plumbing, such as a water heater, often requires connecting PVC to copper pipe. PVC installation is typically quicker because there is no soldering required, but the key is installing the proper connectors. The two connectors used will allow you to thread and join the PVC to the copper in a tight sealed joint.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Cloth rag
  • 1 threaded copper female adaptor, 1 1/2 inch
  • Emery cloth
  • Brush
  • Flux
  • Propane torch
  • Lighter
  • Solder
  • Measuring tape
  • 1 section PVC pipe, 1 1/2 inch diameter
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife
  • PVC pipe cement
  • 1 threaded PVC male adaptor, 1 1/2 inch
  • PVC pipe thread tape
  • 2 adjustable wrenches

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Wipe the inside and outside of the existing copper pipe with the cloth rag to remove all the moisture.

  2. 2

    Sand 2 inches of the outside end of the pipe until it is shiny. Sand the inside of the slip end of the copper female adaptor until it also is shiny. Sand them using the emery cloth to remove all the impurities and ensure a clean solder connection.

  3. 3

    Brush a thin layer of flux on the outside sanded part of the pipe and inside slip end of the copper connector. Slide the connector onto the end of the pipe and twist it 90 degrees in the clockwise direction to evenly coat the flux inside the connection.

  4. 4

    Turn the flow of propane on to the torch and light the torch using the lighter. Adjust the flow of the propane to the flame until there is a strong blue flame burning.

  5. 5

    Heat the joint of the pipe and connector until you see the flux begin to bubble and melt. Apply solder to the top of the joint, away from the flame and allow it to melt and run down the sides of the joint. The heat and capillary action will draw the solder into the joint to form a watertight seal. Apply solder until the joint is sealed all the way around. Wipe any excess solder away with the emery cloth.

  6. 6

    Measure and cut the PVC pipe to fit the distance needed to join to the copper connector. Cut the PVC pipe with the saw in an even, straight cut. Use the utility knife to clean and scrape away any PVC shavings around the inside and outside end of the pipe after it is cut.

  7. 7

    Apply a thin coat of PVC cement to the outside of the PVC pipe and the inside of the PVC slip end of the male connector. Quickly slide the connector onto the end of the PVC pipe and twist the connector 90 degrees in a clockwise direction to evenly distribute the cement inside the joint. The cement will set in just a matter of minutes.

  8. 8

    Wrap the threads of the male connector with threading tape, starting at the end and wrapping it in a clockwise direction up the connector until all the threads are covered with the tape.

  9. 9

    Insert the male connector into the copper female connector and slowly tighten them together. Tighten the two connectors together using the two wrenches.

  10. 10

    Turn the water source on and test for any leaks.

Tips and warnings

  • It is recommended to use thick-walled PVC pipe because this is more durable and easier to work with.
  • Never use a lit torch around any flammable material or liquids as this could result in a fire or explosion.
  • Avoid contact with the tip of the torch or the copper pipe after it has been heated as this can cause serious burns.

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