PVC solvent cement, sometimes just referred to as PVC cement, is an adhesive-like substance used to join two pieces of PVC together. Typically PVC solvent cement is used to join fittings to PVC pipe and individual pieces of PVC pipe to each other. While referred to as cement, it is more similar to welding, as it fuses the two pieces of PVC into one piece in much the same way a weld does.
PVC solvent cement contains a solvent, such as methyl ethyl ketone, which breaks down the top layer of PVC on both the pipe and fitting to be cemented. It also contains PVC resin, which is essentially liquid PVC. Once the solvent breaks down the PVC pipe and fitting, the resin moves into the gaps between the PVC molecules. The solvent then evaporates and the two pieces of PVC are fused together permanently.
While PVC solvent cement is easy to apply and makes using PVC pipe much simpler than its copper or steel alternatives, it does have one important downside. Once two pieces of PVC are cemented together, it is as if they were manufactured as one piece. There is no way to separate the two pieces without cutting them apart. Consequently, care should be taken to ensure all pieces have been dry fit together prior to applying cement.
PVC solvent cement can be a messy cleanup. Before it has dried, excess cement can be wiped from the PVC pipe or its fitting with a damp rag. Care should be taken to not smear the cement on to the rest of the PVC fixture, as it can weaken any PVC it comes in contact with. Once dried, PVC cement excess can be sanded from pipes and scraped off of other materials with a razor blade.
PVC solvent cement can be used to join any two pieces of PVC or ABS together. When PVC is to be joined to steel or copper, rubber compression fittings are typically utilized. Once cemented, PVC pipe is suitable for most any drain, water or ventilation application that has a pressure rating, in PSI, below that of the PVC pipe and fittings. Pressure ratings can be found printed on the side of most any length of pipe.
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