The best way to run outdoor water lines with plastic pipe

Written by lisabeth hughes
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The best way to run outdoor water lines with plastic pipe
Plastic pipe is commonly used in plumbing systems today. (large plastic pipes image by Yali Shi from

Installing outdoor water lines requires a little more time, materials and knowledge than running water lines inside as they will not have the benefit of indoor climate control. You must install outdoor water lines according to local codes which assure the best operation of plumbing systems. Outdoor plumbing in cold or mixed climates will need special treatment to prevent freezing. Plastic pipe is in common use in plumbing systems today because of its resistance to corrosion and bursting. With a few common techniques, some simple tools and local code requirements, you can install outdoor water lines safely and efficiently.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plastic PVC pipe
  • Plumbing primer
  • Plumbing cement
  • Plastic pipe fittings
  • Hacksaw
  • Trencher
  • Pipe insulation

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  1. 1

    Determine where the water lines will run. Use a trencher to dig along this path to a depth specified by local code.

  2. 2

    Inspect pipe ends and fittings for cracks, dirt and other imperfections. Cut imperfect pipe back to expose undamaged material. Remove dirt and other foreign objects from pipe ends. Do not use damaged fittings.

  3. 3

    Apply primer to ends of all pipe and fittings. Let dry thoroughly.

  4. 4

    Apply cement to end of starting pipe and fitting. Join together with a twisting motion to full depth. This should result in the appearance of a fine line of cement at the joint. This line indicates you have used enough cement to ensure proper sealing. Do not wipe off.

  5. 5

    Repeat step 4 until you have run all the pipe. Cut pipe squarely with a hacksaw, if needed, to achieve proper dimensions.

  6. 6

    Apply cement to end of final pipe and fitting. Join together.

  7. 7

    Repeat step 6 to join the entire plumbing system to its destination.

  8. 8

    Fit insulation around pipe the entire length of the water line.

  9. 9

    Fill trench with previously removed dirt.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are running water lines in multiple directions, use a T-fitting to attach all lines together at the desired junction.
  • Try to buy pipe and fittings produced by the same manufacturer to ensure a proper fit.
  • After priming, place pipe and fittings in a clean, dry area free of dust and debris while drying to prevent contaminants adhering to primer.
  • Check that the ends of all pipe and fittings are undamaged and free of dirt and debris. Dirt, cracks and other blemishes may result in leaks.
  • Attach pipe to fittings immediately after applying cement as it dries very fast.
  • Follow local code requirements when determining pipe installation depth, to ensure proper, continuous operation of the plumbing system.

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