How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint – Part 1

How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint by sawing out the bad pipe elbow and install a Fernco Qwik Ell flexible rubber fitting with band clamps.

I noticed another water stain on the finished basement ceiling – this time it was a leak in the washing machine PVC drain line. Two leaks on different sides of the room in the same month! Go figure!


How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint

I was able to get access to the ceiling crawlspace by setting up a ladder in the closet. Access was awkward, but I was able to reach the pipe with an outstretched arm. I quickly found the leak, a slow drip at the PVC elbow joint in the washing machine drain. The solvent weld joint had partially failed, most likely because of poor workmanship as I was to about discover.

Leaking PVC Drain Pipe from the Washing Machine

Leaking PVC Drain Pipe from the Washing Machine

The finished basement has a suspended drywall ceiling. The next photo is the water damage to the drywall ceiling as seen from the crawlspace. I don’t frequent this room in the basement that often, but the leak couldn’t have been happening for more than a month.

Leaking Pipe Water Damage on the Drywall Ceiling

Leaking Pipe Water Damage on the Drywall Ceiling

Fernco Extra Length Qwik Ell Repair Fitting

The 2-inch PVC drain line is solvent welded (permanently glued) together. The correct way to make the repair is to cut out the bad section pipe and/or joints.

I purchased a Fernco 2″ inch QL-200 Qwik Ell at Home Depot to replace the PVC elbow. The Fernco Qwik Ell “extra length fittings” are perfect for the job. The “extra length” is necessary because the flanges of the PVC pipe elbow will be cut out, leaving a larger span than normal. The Fernco fitting accounts for the extra gap as shown here compared to a standard 90° PVC elbow.

PVC Elbow compared to the Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

PVC Elbow compared to the Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

Another view of the Fernco QL-200 with a vernier caliper that I used to measure the part:

Vernier Caliper and Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

Vernier Caliper and Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

Cutting out a section of PVC pipe is a significant decision because you only get once chance to make the proper cuts. I used calipers to measure the diameter of the 45 degree PVC elbow just below the glue joint where I’d be cutting the pipe because I wanted to reassure myself the Fernco Qwik Ell would fit. You won’t need to measure the pipe if you purchase the correct diameter Fernco Qwik Ell as this was for my edification.

Measuring the PVC Pipe with Vernier Calipers

Measuring the PVC Pipe with Vernier Calipers

I compared the diameter of the PVC pipe joint with the inside diameter of the Fernco Qwik Ell to confirm the fitting matched the PVC elbow. No surprise – if matched almost perfectly, just a bit on the small side as it should be for a tight fit. I just wanted to be extra sure.

Verifying the Inside Diameter of the Fernco Quik Ell

Verifying the Inside Diameter of the Fernco Quik Ell

Make a Cardboard Template

To mark the positions of the cuts on the leaking PVC pipe, I traced the outline of the Fernco fitting on a piece of cardboard. I needed to do this because there was no space between the PVC drain pipe and the floor joist to position the Fernco fitting directly to mark my cuts on the PVC pipe.

PVC Pipe Repair: Trace a Cardboard Template of the Fernco Qwik Ell

PVC Pipe Repair: Trace a Cardboard Template of the Fernco Qwik Ell

This is the cardboard template compared to the Fernco Qwik Ell. The important dimension are the lines marking the position of the shoulders at each end:

Cardboard Template of Fernco Qwik Ell

Cardboard Template of Fernco Qwik Ell

The template is cut along the lines to match the length of the shoulders:

Template Trimmed to Shoulder Length

Template Trimmed to Shoulder Length

This repair is continued in Part 2.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Jackson


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2 Responses to How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint – Part 1

  1. Bharat Behl May 1, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Please allow me to access the site without any hindrance. Thanks

    • BobJackson May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      Due to the high volume of intrusion attempts from certain regions, the web application firewall challenges your IP address. Real people such as yourself can access the site by passing the captcha challenge. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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