How to Loosen PVC Pipe


PVC is used to make sewer pipes which exist in many homes. The pipe is strong and durable, and is connected together with PVC couplings. The couplings are joined to the pipe first with PVC primer, and then PVC cement (glue). However, after PVC cement has set (taking roughly 30 seconds) the joint is very strong and can only be cut from the pipe to remove it. Therefore, the window of opportunity for loosening the PVC joint is short, and must be done immediately after the coupling has been installed.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine sandpaper
  • Black felt tip pen
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife
  • Damp rag
  • Eye goggles
  • Hold the coupling with one hand, and place the other on the pipe close to the coupling -- wear work gloves. Quickly pull the pipe from the coupling, twisting it (if possible) as it is pulled. The quicker this is done after installation, the better. Discard the coupling, as it must not be used again. Free the pipe end of primer and cement with fine sandpaper. However, if the primer/cement cannot be removed, cut off the end of the pipe so that the remaining pipe can be reused. If the cement has dried in the joint, it has to be cut from the pipe.

  • Mark the PVC pipe close to the sealed coupling, where no primer or cement exists -- use a black felt tip pen. Cut through the pipe using a hacksaw. If possible, use a power saw or powered miter saw. Make the cut straight (90 degrees to the pipe).

  • Remove any burrs from the pipe end by scraping around the cut with a utility knife. Use fine sandpaper to remove and small plastic fragments. Wipe the pipe end with a damp rag to free it of any dirt.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the coupling has been installed onto the pipe end for more than 30 seconds, the cement has probably dried and the coupling must then be removed by cutting it from the pipe.
  • Even if pulled off the pipe, the coupling must not be used again as it will be impossible to remove all primer and cement from inside the coupling.
  • Wear eye goggles when cutting through the PVC pipe.

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  • "Home Improvement 1-2-3"; Benjamin W. Allen, Christopher Cavanaugh; 1995
  • Photo Credit Hans Neleman/Photodisc/Getty Images
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