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Gluing ABS and PVC


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I checked out an older house this week that had a bunch of PVC and ABS drain lines glued together. I said they were wrong. The buyer, though, calls yesterday and says his plumber took a look and thought the proper "transition glue" had been used. Fishy? Yes. But I can't honestly say that I'd recognize proper or improper "transition glue."

I heard in a CE class early last year that some company had created a glue that would, indeed, meld ABS and PVC, but that the glue hadn't been approved for use, yet.

What do youse guys do when you see ABS and PVC glued together?

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They do make a "General Purpose Glue" that will weld PVC & ABS to themselves, but to one another is not recommended. I believe because ABS & PVC have different expansion & contraction rates.

I've found when there are 2 different plastics in a plumbing system it's usually a hack "Handyman" job.

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You, the general practitioner, had referred the patient to a surgeon because you suspected an issue. Now the surgeon says that it's fine and the client is calling you back wanting you, the general practitioner, to assume part of the surgeon's liability.

I'd just tell him that if he doesn't want to believe the plumber he should get a different opinion from another specialist, 'cuz there's no way that I have, short of destructive testing and lab testing, to prove the plumber wrong.

OT - OF!!!


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From the IRC:

P3003.2 Prohibited joints.

Running threads and bands shall not be used in the drainage system. Drainage and vent piping shall not be drilled, tapped, burned or welded. The following types of joints and connections shall be prohibited:

1. Cement or concrete.

2. Mastic or hot-pour bituminous joints.

3. Joints made with fittings not approved for the specific installation.

4. Joints between different diameter pipes made with elastomeric rolling O-rings.

5. Solvent-cement joints between different types of plastic pipe.6. Saddle-type fittings.

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You can use transition cement to join one type of piping *system* to another *system*. For instance the DWV piping in the house might be ABS plastic and the sewer pipes might be PVC. Transition cement can be used to connect the DWV system to the sewer system. That's what transition cement is intended to be used for.

A couple of years ago, I did an experimetnt for the Oregon Association of Home Inspectors. I made up about 24 fittings using combinations of ABS and PVC pipe glued to each other with every combination of correct and incorrect cement products that I could find. I then sawed each connection in half to examine the finished joints. Some looked better than others but they were all strong joints.

At the next meeting, I passed out the pieces to the membership along with hammers, pliers and vice grips and invited them to destroy the connections. I wanted to see which fittings failed and how they failed.

By the end of the evening, not a single joint failed. They all broke at the point where the pipe met the fitting, but the cemented surfaces remained glued to each other in every case. This included PVC glued to PVC with ABS cement and vice versa.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Yeah . . . I've seen tons of mismatched drains, but never one that was actually leaking. Maybe that's why the plumbers say the things are okay. But if we don't tell our clients the connections are wrong, we'll be paying for the repairs when they eventually sell the house and some other inspector says the mismatched couplings are prohibited.

It's a frustrating and recurring theme on our board, here. One tradesperson does something wrong, and a second tradesperson says it's legit after we call it defective. Mike's on the money about the transfer of liability, but still, these mini-quarrels become tiresome.

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  • 7 months later...

I have read different ways to join ABS to PVC and decided to conduct my own experiment.

With14 joints and using purple primer on both fitting and pipe, and installing a 10ft. water head, the following glues were used:

Oatey's ABS to PVC "green"

Weld-On's 704 and 735 Wet 'N Fast PVC glue


Flow Guard's CPVC (believe it or not)

No leaks, but a Fernco coupling may be the best for piece of mind.

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