Introduction: Bend PVC Pipe
PVC pipe is a great material for making things. If you ever need to bend the pipe, here’s how to do it. The trick is to fill it with sand before heating the plastic and bending it. Normally, the pipe would pinch closed in areas where it is bent, but the sand prevents that. When the heat forming is finished, you just drain out the sand.
Step 1: Safety While Heating PVC
We love plastics for what they do for us, but plastic manufacture and decay tend to pollute the environment and negatively affect our health. Vinyl Chloride, one of the components of PVC, is carcinogenic. When it is locked up in the polymer, however, it is much safer to be around. In my years of experience working with PVC, I have not noticed any adverse effects on my health from being around it. Always work in areas with good ventilation. If you do get caught in a cloud of smoke, hold your breath and move to clean air. When heating PVC with a gas stove or propane torch, try not to let it burn. Smoke from burning PVC is bad. With experience one burns it less and less. Don’t panic the first time you do burn some. It scorches, but doesn’t immediately burst into flame. Move the material away from the flame and try again. Don’t breathe the smoke. Smoke avoidance comes naturally for most people. While heating PVC over a gas flame, keep the plastic an appropriate distance from the flame to avoid scorching the surface before the inside can warm up. It takes time for heat to travel to the center of the material being heated. Keep the plastic moving, and keep an eye on the state of the plastic. When heated, the PVC material is flexible, like leather. Beyond this stage, you risk scorching it. A word from James, the plastic engineer — «Just a word of warning, PVC can handle some high heats but if it catches fire, you wont be able to put it out, it does not need oxygen to burn so don’t do this inside». I do work inside, but my house is made of cement and has good ventilation. MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE GOOD VENTILATION. PLAY WITH FIRE — CAREFULLY.
Step 2: Fill the Pipe With Sand
Cover one end of the pipe with masking tape to hold the sand in. Fill the pipe with sand, tapping the taped end of the pipe on the ground to compact the sand inside. When the pipe is full of compacted sand, tape over the top end. You are ready to heat and bend.
Step 3: Heating and Bending
I use a gas stove for heating and bending sections of pipe. Hold the pipe from both ends. Keep the pipe moving back and forth over the flame, rotating the pipe all the while so that the area to be bent is evenly heated. Keep the pipe at a reasonable distance from the flame to keep from burning it. Heat penetrates slowly through the plastic. Be patient. Haste can result in burnt plastic. Don’t try to heat it too fast. When the plastic softens up some, the pipe begins to sag from its own weight and the weight of the sand inside it. It gets leathery. At this point, turn off the stove and bend the pipe into the shape you want. Do it on the floor, if you want to keep it all in one plane.
Step 4: Some Finished Shapes
These are a few bent pieces of pipe. The ends of the pipe are still taped. 1 Person Made This Project!
When you’re installing or fixing your irrigation system, you won’t always get the exact shape of PVC pipes you need to complete the project. But PVC is hard and stiff; you won’t be able to bend it at will. So, how do you work around this? Thankfully, by simply applying heat to the pipe, you can bend it at home, even without specialized tools. Let’s look at a few easy methods to bend PVC piping for your next DIY project.
Safety Tips for Bending PVC Pipes With Heat
Before we get on with bending the pipes, remember to be extra cautious when dealing with PVC and heat. That’s because PVC can produce harmful vapors and fumes like carbon monoxide and chlorinated furans when heated, so you need to
- Wear a gas mask
- Put on safety glasses
- Bend the pipes in a well-ventilated area ( do not bend PVC indoors )
Remember to wear heat-proof gloves or oven mitts to protect your hands when you touch the hot pipe. Apart from the fumes, one of the main components of PVC, vinyl chloride, is carcinogenic. It’s not harmful when it’s sealed inside the PVC polymer. But if the PVC goes up in flames, vinyl chloride will be released into the air. So it’s best not to use a direct flame on the pipe.
Bending PVC Pipe Using Heat
You can bend PVC pipes by applying heat to the part where you want the bend to go. PVC is what scientists call an amorphous polymer, which means the particles that make up its structure are not arranged in fixed arrays. Applying heat to the PVC, therefore, softens it up and makes it easier to bend. Once it cools, it will stay in that new position.
Method 1: Use a Hair Dryer
A hairdryer is a safer way to heat PVC since it doesn’t expose the pipe to a naked flame. Here’s how you can use a hairdryer to bend PVC:
How to Bend PVC Pipe With a Hair Dryer
- Mark the point where you want to place the bend with a marker or tape. Then put two marks about eight inches on either side of your desired bending point; this will be your heat region.
- Place the PVC pipe on a supporting structure so the pipe is not level with the table. Make sure the bending point is right in the middle of the supporting object. You can use a log or stone.
- Turn on the hairdryer and apply heat to the heat region, holding the dryer three inches away from the PVC pipe.
- With your other hand, gently apply pressure in the direction you want the pipe to bend.
The heat from the hairdryer is enough to bend the pipe. However, it may also cause the pipe to collapse and kink ( as pictured below), making it unusable.
Image courtesy To avoid kinks in the pipe, you can use any one of the following tips.
Inserting a Spring or Coil
Source: Pxhere Insert a spring into the pipe at the point you want to make the bend. You can attach a long thin wire on one end of the spring to make it easier to lower into position. Then follow the steps above using the hairdryer. Once you’re done, simply pull out the spring and let the pipe cool until it’s ready for use.
Image courtesy Fill up the pipe with sand up to about an inch or two past the point you want to bend. Plug one end of the pipe with a cork or tape to stop the sand from falling out. Now follow the steps outlined above for using the hairdryer until you bend the pipe to your required shape. Pour out the sand and let it cool. Here’s a simple step-by-step video to walk you through the process.
Method 2: Using the Oven or Stove-Top
If you don’t have a hairdryer, you can simply pop some sand into the oven or on the stove. The sand will transfer heat to the pipe, making it flexible enough to bend. Why sand and not any other material? That’s because sand holds on to heat for a long time. Think of how the sand at the beach feels warm hours after the sun goes down. The sand won’t cool down as soon as it’s out of the oven and will pass on the heat to the pipe. Plus, sand helps to fill out the pipe so it won’t kink.
How to Bend PVC Pipes Using the Oven or Stove-Top
- Mark the point where you want to bend the pipe with a marker or tape.
- Fill the pipe with sand up to 3 inches beyond the bending point.
- Pour the sand into a heat-resistant container.
- Place the container with sand into the oven or on the stove and turn the heat up to 431 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the sand to allow the heat to distribute evenly.
- Pour the sand back inside the pipe and let it sit for about 50 seconds to two minutes.
How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools
- Then bend the pipe gently until you get the desired angle.
How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools
- Pour out the sand and let the pipe cool.
Once it’s cooled, it will be ready for use. Watch how to do it here.
Method 3: With Boiling Water
The temperature of the boiling water is high enough to make PVC flexible. Here are the steps you can follow to bend a PVC pipe with boiling water.
- Boil a kettle of water until steam starts coming out.
- Put one end of the pipe on to the kettle’s spout, so the steam goes directly through the pipe.
How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools
- Leave it for about five minutes, then slowly bend the pipe into the desired shape.
How to Bend PVC Pipe With No ToolsOnce it cools, the job is done.
Pro tip: Remember to let it cool all the way through before you use the pipe. Also, pressure test the bent pipe to ensure it’s strong enough to withstand the water pressure.
Your Irrigation System DIY Project
Now that you’ve managed to bend your pipe, you’re ready to complete your project. All you need now is a quality sprinkler system or parts designed to last for many years to come. Turn to the Sprinkler Supply Store for the best brands in the sprinkler game at affordable prices. We stock the best irrigation equipment like sprinkler parts, controllers, timers, and sensors from the best brands like Hunter, Toro, and Rainbird. We have everything you need to set up or repair your sprinkler system; if we don’t have what you need, we’ll find it just for you. Check out what these customers had to say when they got everything they needed quickly at great prices:
«Great source for Toro replacement parts! We received them quickly and my husband has successfully repaired our sprinkler system. It’s a win!» — Jenene Justice «The selection and pricing are great. And shipping was very quick. I highly recommend this website.» — Gary Fritz
You can get yours, too. Buy your irrigation parts from the Sprinkler Supply Store today.
Introduction: Bending PVC Pipe — Just Because You Can
Have you ever found yourself putting in that new sprinkler system for your garden and right in the middle of the project discovered that you are out of 45 degree fittings? With this simple technique, you can heat bend custom fittings in any kind of PVC pipe. The secret to the process is using a controlled heat source and spreading it out. In a word keep: it moving, keep it rotating. (OK, that was more than «a» word) BUT … Before getting into this, I have to plug Techshop … an awesome resource for the toolhead like me … at techshop, I can have access to pertty much any tool I can imagine. I have quite a slection at home, even more at work, but none of my tools compares to what I can have access to at the Techshop … www.techshop.ws
Step 1: Heating the Pipe
PVC pipe is created by a process called extrusion.Extruded products are all around you: Spagetti, macaroni, aluminum door thresholds, vinyl window frames, plastic bags … even plastic water bottles (which start as extrusions before they are blow molded) … all these are extruded. In the case of PVC pipe, chips (or beads) of rigid PVC plastic are heated up to a molten state and forced through a hole correspondng to the shape desired — in this case, a pipe. As the pipe is extruded, it is held in a straight line until it cools into a solid length of pipe. PVC is a thermoplastic — which means that it becomes soft when heat is applied. You can use this little tidbit of knowledge to heat and re-form the pipe to a new shape without compromising its physical properties … if you are patient. The best tool for heating the pipe is a heat gun — available for around $25 from your local hardware big box or online (search: 1500 watt dual temperature heat gun). You can also take your piece of pipe into the kitchen and use your stove top — just make sure your wife isn’t home. What doesn’t work so well is a propane (or MAPP) torch as the heat is too concentrated and charring the PVC is highly likely. Save the torch for making your PVC diggerydoo … but that’s another instructible. The key to the technique is constant movement — move the PVC pipe or the heat source back and forth over a 12″ or so area and keep the pipe rotating all the while. After 3 or 4 minutes, the piece of pipe will start to sag. Keep it moving and rotating and begin bending it while rotating it — all the while keeping the heat on.
Step 2: Finishing the Bend
Once the PVC pipe is good and soft, lay it down on a flat suface and bend it while rotating (or rolling) it. Do not bend it quickly or stop rotating too soon or the pipe will kink. Once the bend is the correct angle, hold it while it cools. As long as you don’t overheat it or kink it, it’ll hold pressure just like a straight pipe. Remember: your heat gun is also your friend when running PVC pipe (or conduit) and you have to make that ~12 degree angle in order to get it into that next fitting — even if the pipe is already in the trench. Just remember to keep the heat source moving — but please don’t try drying your hair with it.. Be the First to Share
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