DIY Projects

How to Fix a Broken PVC Pipe in a Garden Watering System

Many gardeners have an underground PVC pipe watering system that supplies water to their gardens. Occasionally, a sprinkler head will break off or the PVC pipe can break after a bad winter freeze. Regardless of when the pipe breaks it’s never a good time, but if it does break you need to know how to fix it. The most important part of the process is to have all the parts needed for repair ahead of time.

Stack of PVC pipe at construction site

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride comes in several different schedules as well as being rigid and flexible. To make things simple this article will be discussing rigid PVC water pipe that comes in Sch-20, Sch-40, and Sch-80 of which being the most used for outdoor watering pipes. Do not confuse PVC with CPVC because they are used for different purposes and the outside diameters and inside diameters are completely different. The most common pipe that is used for gardening will more than likely come up as Sch-20 or Sch-40 white pipe.

If you experience a break whether in the location of a sprinkler head or along the pipe length itself, make sure the outside water is turned completely off. This will relieve the pressure in the line and allow you to make repairs quickly and effectively. To start off you’ll need to locate the break, and this is normally done right when the break happens. Once you’ve found the problem area, you’ll want to dig the area out and clear debris away from the broken area. If the break is in the length of the line, there is a special repair that will need to be made. If your break is located where the sprinkler head is located, this can be remedied using a fitting or coupler.

Before heading to the hardware store, garden outlet, or your favorite home improvement center you will either need to bring a section of the broken pipe, the broken sprinkler head, or simply know the size of your PVC pipe. For gardening the water pipe is normally 1/2 or 3/4 OD (outside diameter.) Once you know the size, you can begin looking for the parts that will be needed. For the break in the length of the pipe, you’ll look for a PVC-slip joint. This will allow you to cut the broken section of pipe out and easily slip the new section in for repair.

For the sprinkler head break, you need the sprinkler head fitting that is the correct size. This is normally a TEE fitting and should be inexpensive. Before leaving the parts store, make sure you have something to cut the old pipe like a PVC cutter. You will also need PVC glue and primer. Once you have all these items, it’s time to go home and make the repair. Once you begin, you will want to make sure the pipes are cut flush and cleaned properly. For the pipe break, cut the existing pipe in a way that will allow you to place the PVC-slip joint in easily. Make sure to dry fit everything before gluing.

Once the parts go together without a problem, use the PVC primer to prime the inner areas of the repair pieces and the outer areas of the items to be repaired. When this is complete apply the PVC glue to one end of the broken area and the inner end of the slip. Press them together snugly and begin working on the other end. For the sprinkler head TEE this will work the same way making sure you have enough room to join the pipes together. Once the pipes have been glued and everything has been put back together, wait at least 2 hours before turning the water back on.

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