How to Remove PVC Plumbing


The solvents used to join PVC pipes and fittings dissolve the surfaces of the pipes and fittings. When the primer and glue dries, the PVC pipes and fittings harden together, making it difficult to simply remove the plastic plumbing. You may use a hammer to tap the PVC joints and force the seams to break apart, but if the goal is only to remove a defective joint, you may cause further damage to other pipes and fittings, resulting in more work. Instead of breaking the pipes, the easiest way to remove PVC plumbing is to cut out the damaged or undesired pipes.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Bucket or drip pan
  • Hacksaw or pipe cutters
  • Utility knife or emery cloth

Removing PVC

  • Shut off the water that supplies the PVC plumbing you intend to remove.

  • Place a drip pan or bucket under the PVC pipes to catch the trapped water in the pipes.

  • Cut PVC pipes with a hacksaw or pipe cutters. The hacksaw works better for larger PVC pipes commonly used for drains and exhaust pipes, while pipe cutters are sufficient for cutting lines measuring 1 inch or less in diameter.

  • Use a utility knife or emery cloth to remove burrs made by the hacksaw.

  • Throw discarded PVC pipes and fittings in the trash or call your local environmental protection agency to see where you can donate the PVC. Some companies can grind the PVC and recycle it into other plastic products.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since PVC does not break down in landfills, call your local sanitation or EPA organization to check disposal requirements.
  • If your home has PVC supply lines running clean water to fixtures in your home, consider removing the PVC and installing CPVC or copper plumbing. PVC as a supply line does not pass some city codes and may interfere with your homeowner’s insurance coverage. In addition, PVC does not hold up under hot water temperatures and will burst, resulting in burns.

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