How to Choose the Right Solvent Cement

Check out these tips on what to consider when selecting a solvent cement, as well as some suggested types to use for a variety of plumbing applications

How to Choose the Right Solvent Cement

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The options for solvent cements are plentiful. Where to begin?

Whether you’re a new pro entering the industry or a seasoned plumber in need of a quick refresher, here’s a look at how to select the most effective and efficient solvent cement for every job. 

There are expert tips along with suggested product types — think of these as your cement “staples” — that will keep you prepared for various plumbing applications, repairs and emergencies.

What should you consider before selecting a solvent cement?

Pipe material: First, determine if you will be joining PVC, ABS or CVPC plastic pipes and select corresponding cements.

This is arguably one of the most critical steps in the solvent welding process. If a cement and pipe material aren’t compatible, then the pipe and fitting cannot chemically fuse together and could lead to joint failure.

Pipe size: Next, consider the size of the pipes. Larger pipes will require a cement with a thicker viscosity, or a heavier body. You can choose from regular, medium and heavy bodied cements.

As a general rule of thumb, at Oatey we recommend using the following pipe size guidelines when selecting a solvent cement. You can also find the maximum recommended pipe size listed on the cement can.

Application conditions: Additionally, confirm that a cement is rated for the temperature, moisture and pressure conditions of the application site. You should also consider whether you’re working on a potable water system or a non-pressure DWV (Drainage, water and vent) system and select the formulated cement for that particular application.  

Set time, also known as cure time, of cement should also be evaluated. For example, if you have a time-sensitive project where the plumbing system cannot be down for an extended period of time, you should opt for a faster-setting product.

Local codes and standards: Finally, ensure the solvent cement meets all applicable codes and standards based on application site.

What can you use to join PVC?

Medium clear PVC cement: Fast drying and suitable for potable water, pressure pipe, conduit and DWV applications. It’s approved for use up to 6 inches in all schedules and classes of PVC pipe and fittings. Recommended application temperature is between 40 degrees F and 110 degrees F (4 to 43 degrees C).

Ideal for projects with multiple pipe diameters, as well as both residential and commercial applications due to its approval for use on pipes up to 6 inches.

Heavy-duty clear PVC cement: Select a heavy-duty cement for use on all larger schedules and classes of PVC pipe and fittings up to 12 inches and up to 18 inches for non-pressure. It’s recommended for potable water, pressure pipe, conduit and DWV applications with temperatures ranging from 40 degrees F to 110 degrees F (4 to 43 degrees C). 

Best for commercial applications, as it is approved for use on larger-diameter pipe.

Hot medium Blue Lava PVC cement: Extremely fast setting and the preferred formula for emergency, repair and cut-in work for potable water, sewer and DWV applications. It is also formulated to hold PVC joints beneath water.

A go-to cement for pool/spa and irrigation contractors.

What can you use to join ABS?

ABS medium black cement: Recommended for residential, non-pressure applications on all schedules and classes of ABS pipe and fittings up to 6 inches. Can withstand temperatures between 40 degrees F and 110 degrees F (4 to 43 degrees C).

Remember: Unlike PVC and CPVC fittings, never use primer on ABS solvent welds.

What can you use to join CPVC?

Orange Lava CPVC cut-in cement: Fast-setting cement formulated for time-sensitive repair and cut-in work. This one-step cement does not require a primer where local codes permit. It is heavy bodied for use on all schedules and classes of CPVC pipe and fittings up to 12 inches.

FlowGuard Gold one-step yellow cement: Ideal for CTS (copper tube size) cold and hot potable water pipe and fittings up to 2 inches. It’s recommended for cold-water systems and hot-water systems up to 200 degrees F (93 degrees C). This one-step cement does not require a primer where local codes permit.

More common for residential applications.

Medium orange CPVC cement: Suggested for both residential and commercial cold and hot water systems with temperatures up to 200 degrees F (93 degrees C). Approved for use on all schedules and classes of CPVC pipe and fittings up to 6 inches and requires the use of primer.

Suggested for commercial applications.

What can you use to join ABS and PVC?

ABS to PVC transition green cement: Used when joining ABS to PVC in non-pressure transition joints up to 6 inches. Many jurisdictions will allow the use of this cement for one transition between ABS and PVC piping per application.

Recommended when a mechanical transition cannot be accomplished.

Note: You’ve likely heard solvent cement referred to as PVC glue, pipe glue, cement glue or plumbers glue. These terms are often used interchangeably but are technically incorrect. When a pipe and fitting are joined, they form a solvent weld; they are not glued. They are softened, chemically bonded and cannot be taken apart.

About the Author

Erin Bullock is applications manager for Oatey Company. He can be reached at technical@oatey.com.



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