How to Connect PVC to Clay Tile

Written by amelia allonsy
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How to Connect PVC to Clay Tile
As old clay tile breaks, it is necessary to upgrade. Connect existing structurally sound clay tile pipe to PVC. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Clay pipe has a long history of use -- apparently, Babylonians made it around 4000 B.C. The Romans developed clay pipe tiles for their aqueducts around 312 B.C., and clay tiles were the primary material for sewer drain pipes and mains from the late 19th century until the 1980s. Baked clay cracks and breaks over time or as a result of settling earth or other natural elements: For instance, tree roots are a major problem for clay tile pipe; they grow through cracks in search of water and clog the drain pipe. Since the '80s, homeowners and professional plumbing contractors have replaced clay tile pipe with PVC pipe. PVC is more durable than clay, making it impervious to tree roots. Fernco couplings, a brand of fittings available at building supply stores, are commonly used for clay-tile-to-PVC connections.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Marker
  • Chain pipe cutter
  • Masonry cut-off saw
  • Brick chisel
  • Hammer
  • Flat file
  • Fernco coupling
  • Screwdriver
  • No-hub torque wrench
  • 100-percent-pure silicone caulk
  • Pipe hanger strap
  • Concrete

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  1. 1

    Remove debris from the work area around the clay tile. If the clay tile pipe is underground, dig the dirt out 12 inches on either side of and underneath the pipe with a shovel.

  2. 2

    Measure the clay tile pipe where the connection is to be made with a tape measure and mark around the tile with a marker.

  3. 3

    Cut the clay tile on the mark with chain pipe cutters or a masonry cut-off saw; remove the old piece of tile. Alternatively, score the pipe all the way around with a brick chisel, then lightly hit the chisel with the hammer to make the cut.

  4. 4

    File the edge of the clay tile pipe with a flat file at a 45-degree angle so that the Fernco coupling slides onto the clay tile and PVC easily. File the edge of the PVC pipe in the same way.

  5. 5

    Butt the ends of the clay tile and PVC together.

  6. 6

    Slide the Fernco coupling over the PVC. Space the Fernco coupling equally over both lengths of pipe for an effective seal.

  7. 7

    Tighten the metal clamp bands equally with a screwdriver or a no-hub torque wrench; torque the bands until the wrench clicks.

  8. 8

    Apply a bead of 100-percent-pure silicone caulk around the ends of the Fernco coupling where it meets the clay tile and PVC.

  9. 9

    Place pipe hanger straps as close to the connection as possible to prevent the Fernco coupling connection from sagging. If the connection is underground, pour concrete around the connection, allowing 6 to 8 inches of concrete under the connection for a solid support.

Tips and warnings

  • Break the discarded clay tile into shards and use them for drainage in the bottom of planters.
  • Cut very gently so you don't shatter the clay pipe or break off a jagged end.

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