How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint – Part 3

How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint – after sawing out the bad section of PVC pipe, install the Fernco Qwik Ell flexible rubber elbow.

This repair is continued from Part 2.


Install the New PVC Pipe Joint

Now that the old leaky section of pipe is removed, I dried and cleaned the 45 degree street elbow on the “upstream” side as shown. I also deburred and cleaned the lower section of pipe that was cut with the handsaw. As you can see from this photo, the 45 degree elbow joint was never glued – a result of poor workmanship!

PVC Pipe Repair: Cut Out Bad Section of PVC Pipe

PVC Pipe Repair: Cut Out Bad Section of PVC Pipe

Test Fitting Fernco Qwik Ell

Next, I test fitted the two repair parts and marked the ends with a blue pen. The repair parts are:

  1. A new 45 degree PVC street elbow.
  2. The Fernco QL-200 Qwik Ell

The pieces went together perfectly.

PVC Pipe Repair: Trial Fit the Repair Parts

PVC Pipe Repair: Trial Fit the Repair Parts

I removed the Fernco Qwik Ell and checked my the depth of the blue pen marks to ensure the Ell was seated properly.

PVC Pipe Repair: Remove the Fernco Qwik Ell

PVC Pipe Repair: Remove the Fernco Qwik Ell

The replacement 45 degree street elbow was removed, the depth of the blue mark checked for proper seating and purple primer applied.

PVC Pipe Repair: Purple Primer Before Gluing 45 degree PVC elbow

PVC Pipe Repair: Purple Primer Before Gluing 45 degree PVC elbow

The new street elbow is solvent welded in place with PVC cement.

PVC Pipe Repair: New 45 degree Street Elbow Solvent Weld

PVC Pipe Repair: New 45 degree Street Elbow Solvent Weld

The Fernco Qwik is slipped onto the pipe ends and checked for proper seating at the two blue marks. The Quik Ell fitting is flexible and easy to work into place.

Do not use glue on the Fernco fitting. The Qwik Ell is held in place by the two steel band clamps and can be removed later if needed by loosing the clamps.

Leaky PVC Pipe Repair: Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

Leaky PVC Pipe Repair: Fernco Qwik Ell QL-200

The steel band clamps are tightened with a socket wrench. I tighten it up until it’s firm, then take it in another 3/16 inch or so it squeezes the rubber fitting.

PVC Pipe Repair: Fernco Qwik Ell Band Clamps

PVC Pipe Repair: Fernco Qwik Ell Band Clamps

And the job is done! My wife was eager to run a load of clothes through the washing machine and the repair was leak free.

The last task is to paint over the stain on the drywall ceiling.

Leaky PVC Pipe Joint Inspection

A close inspection of the leaky section of PVC pipe that was removed was interesting. The “downstream” end is on the left, the leak is the stained section in the middle and the fused cable saw cut is the ragged section to the middle right.

Leaky PVC Pipe Joint

Leaky PVC Pipe Joint

This is the “upstream” end that wasn’t glued – but it hadn’t leaked here. An example of poor workmanship. This actually was a benefit in making the repair because the section popped off cleanly making the cable saw cut unncessary – but I didn’t know this at the time.

Leaky PVC Pipe: Fitting not Glued!

Leaky PVC Pipe: Fitting not Glued!

A smack or two cracked open the cut made by the PVC cable saw. The saw wire was so hot from friction it semi-melted it’s way through the pipe – the pipe tended to fuse back together behind the wire. Next time I would draw the cable saw back-and-forth more slowly to minimize the heat generation.

PVC Cable Saw Cut

PVC Cable Saw Cut

Hope this saves you some money on repairs!

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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12 Responses to How to Repair a Leaky PVC Pipe Joint – Part 3

  1. mld July 4, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    Thanks for the write-up and great photo illustrations. I have a very similar situation (though mine is sewage drain from upstairs toilet). The PVC cable saw should come in handy for both ends of the elbow I’m replacing, but I need to demo out some stuff, and maneuver around my water heater, to get to it. But I should only need the Fernco Ell as a replacement part.

  2. mld July 6, 2009 at 9:12 am #

    Some notes after the repair: Keep tension from left-to-right on the cable – don’t let it go slack. And, don’t stop the motion with the cable saw once you get started. If you stop, a couple bad things can happen. First, as Bob mentions, the PVC can melt back behind the cable. The cables can then get bound up in the PVC. Second, unfortunately these cables twist in the middle if you don’t keep tension – and once they twist around on themselves on the inside of the pipe, getting them unbound is a harder chore than cutting through the PVC itself, especially in next-to-zero clearance situations.

  3. moab July 23, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Why not just scrape out the leaking joint, then drip or inject pipesealant or glue into the joint. Put a bowl underneath and do some heavy testing. Not a perfect fix but maybe good enough to tide you over until you have free time.
    Wiggling on a weak join first would identify any unglued weakness. Care should be taken not to pull too hard and damage the mountings.

    • Bob Jackson July 23, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

      I briefly considered a patch job and dismissed it on the belief that the wet joint would prevent pipe glue or epoxy from bonding. The repair parts and cable saw cost less than $20. Well worth doing a complete repair for peace of mind.

  4. Randy Clark November 2, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Why did you choose to use the Fernco Ell instead of a new section of pvc? Yes, clamps are easier than cement, but isn’t the cement a more permanent choice? And is the Fernco Ell up to code in most locations?

    thanks – your photos and descriptions make me ready to skip the plumber and do my job myself.

  5. Bob Jackson November 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    Hi Randy,
    I chose the Fernco El for several reasons:

    * That section of pipe was very difficult to reach. I could get one hand on it, but two hands at the same time was next to impossible.

    * The Fernco El alignment is adjustable both in angle and seat depth. Dry fitting PVC pipe and marking alignments & positions works well, but the Fernco part is insurance against a small mistake.

    * PVC pipe glue sets up in seconds – no 2nd chances.

    * PVC elbows won’t flex making the last piece to be glued in the center a challege. The Fernco El can be bent/folded to fit in tight spots.

    If that section of pipe had been somewhere easy to get at, I might have gone with all PVC parts.

    Thanks for reading,
    Bob Jackson

  6. RCharles December 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    An interesting project. I’m doing new work, not a repair, but have a similar problem. the PVC is coming from two directions: the vent is coming down from the ceiling and the drain extends up from the floor. I’m now ready to connect the last three or four pieces with elbows, etc. But the more pieces I glue, the less flexibility for stretching the gap for the last piece. I can’t figure out how to make the last connections since the pipe must be separated to spread the glue and I don’t think I can glue two connections at once.

    Your ideas will be appreciated.

    Ray

    • Bob Jackson December 10, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

      Hi Ray,
      The lack of “play” to work in the last PVC pipe fitting – while having only seconds before the glue hardens – is a common problem. I used a Fernco Tee fitting for this reason when I spliced into the main sewer line in this basement bathroom project.

      It helps to “dry fit” the PVC plumbing pieces and make alignment marks with a felt tip pen to figure out the best assembly order. A long pipe run can often provide enough “flex” if muscled to slip in the last joint. The alternative is to use an appropriate Fernco flexible fitting.

      Take care,
      Bob Jackson

  7. Netsrac November 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Thanks, this was very helpful.

  8. pat trowbridge December 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Wow! Was I lucky to find your work on these repairs. What great teaching. I’m embarking on my own plumbing efforts and this was very encouraging. Thanks alot Mr. Bob Jackson.

  9. Ryan C December 15, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Excellent step-by-step directions with pictures. I laughed out loud when you described how the unglued section popped off! I can just about imagine what your reaction must have been. Maybe a little bit of cursing at the person who did the original work. Despite having no idea who that person is/was, isn’t it funny how a shoddy job like that can leave you convinced that that guy is walking around today with his head up his rear end? Anyway, thanks for the tips. I’m off to work on my own project now with a little more know-how than I had 10 minutes ago.

  10. joey May 5, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    Thanks for your post. It’s just so helpful to find this knowledge presented in a clear manner. I couldn’t ask for better instructions.Good ideas for approaching my own washing machine’s leaky joint issue.

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