Poly pipe (polybutylene pipe) is a flexible plastic pipe that was installed extensively in residential dwellings in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is cheap to produce, lightweight, easy to install and was viewed by the plumbing industry as the "the pipe of the future," according to Plumbing Express, a division of Phoenix Construction. It is used as an inexpensive substitute for more traditional copper piping systems. Connectors are used to join two lengths of poly piping together or to connect poly piping to other pipe materials such as copper, cast iron or PVC. Connections are easy to make, and can be made in a wide variety of configurations depending on the materials joined.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Tape measure
- Plastic pipe cutter (or)
- Utility knife
- Rubber mallet
- Hot water
Determine what size of poly piping you have so that you know what size of connectors to use. Agricultural grade poly pipe generally has a thicker wall than residential grade poly pipe, which gives it a heaver pressure rating or PSI (pounds per square inch) rating. Once you know the size and grade of piping you have, estimate the water pressure that must be contained. Different style connectors are available to meet various pressure requirements. Count the number of elbows, straight connectors, T-pieces, etc., that will be required. For example, you may have 3/8-inch residential grade poly pipe with a pressure rating of 50 psi. Most pipe is clearly marked on the exterior as to its size, rating and capacity.
Gather the required tools and connectors needed to make all the necessary connections. Always have a few spare connectors available in case one develops a leak during installation and needs to be replaced. Fill a bucket with hot water. Turn off the water supply.
Connect two pieces of identical poly using one straight connector, which has seven individual pieces. The connector insert contains threads at each end, two cone shaped nuts, two small compression rings and two plastic inserts with rubber rings. To fit the straight connector to the poly piping, make sure the end of the poly piping has been cut off as straight across as possible. This can be done with a plastic pipe cutter or a hacksaw.
Place a cone shaped nut onto one poly pipe end, making sure the wider end is toward the opening in the pipe. Next, place a compression ring with the wider section also toward the opening of the poly pipe. Place a plastic insert with rubber ring on the poly pipe last. Slide all three components several inches up the pipe.
Take the end of the pipe containing the nut, ring and insert on it and place it into a bucket of hot water (or under a hot water spigot) for several minutes to heat up the pipe so that it is more malleable. Pull the pipe from the hot water and push the connector insert into the end of the pipe until it goes in half way. Tap the connector insert with a runner mallet if it won't go in by hand. Make sure the nut, compression ring and plastic insert are still on the pipe.
Take the other end of the pipe to be connected, and install the three components as with the first pipe end. Make absolutely sure that the nut and compression ring are around the right way with the wider part to the pipe opening. The nut goes on first and the compression ring on second, followed by the plastic insert. Place the end of the pipe into a bucket of hot water for several minutes. Pull the pipe from the hot water and push the pipe onto the connector insert sticking out from the other pipe. Slide it all the way on, and twist both pipes together until the pipes meet with the connector at its midsection.
Push both plastic inserts until they are fully against the connector. Push both compression rings toward the middle of the connector, until they are flush against plastic inserts. Slide one threaded cone shaped nut up and screw this onto the middle section of the connector by hand. Screw it up as hard as it will go by hand tightening only. Repeat with the remaining cone shaped nut. Grasp both nuts, one in each hand, and tighten them firmly by twisting each nut in the clockwise direction. Pliers may be used, but do so very gently because the plastic connectors are very brittle and crack easily.
Repeat the process for any remaining connections that need to be made. Test the connections for water tightness before relying on them to be watertight for an extended period of time. Turn on the water supply if no leaks are found.
Tips and warnings
- Work slowly and carefully, and make sure no debris is on the pipe ends or on the connectors during assembly. Even the smallest amount of dirt will cause the connectors to leak.
- Do not over tighten connectors because this will crack them. Tighten very firmly, then check for leaks. If any leaks exist, tighten a little further. If they still leak, replace that connector.
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