Much of the plumbing in your home is made up of PVC, ABS, and CPVC plastic pipes. Although each type of pipe has its own uses and specifications, they require similar tools to cut and install.
In this guide, we’ll go over the best methods for how to cut PVC pipes, including what tools are needed for the job.
While this blog post will go over various methods, it’s important to keep in mind, however, that any major plumbing job should be done by a professional, not only for their expertise, but for safety reasons. For jobs such as this, consult and get in touch with our plumbing technicians at J. Blanton.
Know the different pipe types
Before starting any kind of cutting, it’s vital to know what type of pipe is being worked on. Along with PVC pipes, there are some notable variations that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is used for main gas lines, cold water, and irrigation. If you look at sink drain pipes, you’ll likely notice that the pipes are made of PVC.
PVC can be purchased at most local hardware stores in 5, 10, or 20-foot lengths. It comes in many different diameter sizes, ranging from half an inch up to 10 inches.
In relation to how to cut PVC pipes, it’s important to note that PVC becomes brittle when left in the sun.
CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) is similar to PVC, with the main difference being the temperature that it can withstand. PVC can handle up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, while CPVC can handle up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the better option for hot water.
Being able to handle both hot and cold water makes CPVC a great option for residential plumbing. It can be purchased at most local hardware stores as well.
CPVC diameters vary, as they’re measured from the outside.
ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is used for draining, waste, and vent pipe systems. It’s also often used as electrical insulation, as it’s more shock resistant than both PVC and CPVC.
While PVC is widely considered to be superior in the silencing of running water, ABS is preferable for severely cold temperatures.
Methods for how to cut a PVC pipe
Choosing the right type of method is crucial to making a clean and accurate cut, as well as ensuring good working ergonomics.
When choosing a cutting method, consider the diameter of the pipe you’re cutting, as well as the quantity of piping you’ll need to cut.
Without further ado, here are the best methods for cutting a PVC pipe.
Power miter saw
Power miter saws are best used for large quantities of cuts, as they take away much of the manual labor and can cut very quickly. Wearing PPE is crucial, as this high-powered saw can be dangerous, causing debris to fly at high speeds.
Before beginning to cut, make sure to check the saw blade to ensure the correct type of blade is being used for the kind of material that will be cut into. Ideally, a plastic/composite material circular saw blade would be used.
To cut, mark the pipe where it will be cut and align the marking with the saw blade. Secure the PVC pipe with one hand or vice and turn on the saw by grabbing the handle and squeezing the saw activation button.
Slowly lower the saw blade until it is all the way through the PVC pipe. Release the saw activation button and wait for the blade to stop before removing the pipe.
In terms of how to cut a PVC pipe, hack saws are a great option when you only require a few cuts. They’re easy to use, but can become tiresome on your hands and shoulders over time.
Start by securing the PVC pipe via a vice or clamp. Measure and mark the length of the PVC pipe you wish to cut, and slowly draw the hacksaw back along the marking.
Continue sliding the saw blade back and forth at a steady and even speed, checking that the cut is straight along the way. Once you’re close to all the way through the pipe, slow down to ensure a clean cut with minimal burrs.
Consider a pair of cut-resistant gloves when using sharp tools like hack saws for personal safety.
Ratchet and scissor pipe cutters
Similar to using the hack saw, mark the PVC pipe at the desired length, and set the pipe between the jaws and blade of the pipe cutters.
When using scissor-type cutters, apply pressure as you slowly twist the cutters around the pipe until they’re all the way through.
For ratchet-type cutters, again set the pipe between the jaws and blade of the cutters. Squeeze the handle until a distinct clicking or “ratcheting” sound is heard. Release the handle and repeat the ratcheting action until you are through the pipe.
Need work on your pipes? Contact J. Blanton today
PVC pipe is a versatile material with many important uses in our homes, and having a professional who knows how to cut a PVC pipe is a crucial part of any home plumbing work.
Uneven cuts can cause poor-fitting seals, which can lead to unwanted plumbing emergencies. This is why it’s also important to know how to cut PVC pipes straight to avoid any headaches and spikes in water bills down the line.
We always recommend having a trained professional do any plumbing work in your home. The task of cutting PVC isn’t complicated, but along with the issue of safety, knowing which type of pipe you need may require a trained eye. Having a plumber make measurements and cuts for you can save you time and money on possible wasted materials due to trial and error.
Our plumbing technicians at J. Blanton Plumbing have over 15 years of shared experience to offer, and are happy to assist you with all of your PVC cutting and fitting needs.
If you’re in the Chicagoland area and need assistance with anything plumbing-related, contact us today!