How To Replace Galvanized Pipe With PVC Pipe

Your older home is likely outfitted with galvanized steel pipes which used to be the standard in homes because of their durability and ease of installation. However, galvanized pipes tend to rust from the inside and leak. Before 1986, galvanized pipe was made with natural zinc, which was used to make a rust-proof coating.

You can either hire someone who offers plumbing services to replace your steel pipes, or you can tackle the project yourself by following these tips.

Prepare to Work

To replace galvanized pipes, you need to gather:

  • work gloves
  • safety goggles
  • tape measure
  • bucket 
  • wire brush
  • two pipe wrenches
  • rags  fine-grit sandpaper
  • PVC cleaner 
  • PTFE(polytetrafluoroethyleneseal) tape
  • PVC glue
  • PVC female adapter fittings
  • mechanical couplings
  • pipe cutter or hacksaw
  • PVC pipe with smooth and rigid female threads 

Shut off the house's main water supply from the valve commonly located near the water meter. Rotate the valve right to shut off the water, and open a nearby faucet to relieve water pressure. If you have a basement, you may find another shut-off valve there.

Remove the Galvanized Pipe

Set a bucket under the connectors, which are commonly found where pipes enter the home. If the pipes aren't rusted, disconnect one connector using a pipe wrench, holding the pipe with a second wrench. If the connectors won't budge, cut them off with the saw or pipe cutter.   

To cut rusted pipe, secure the pipe cutter on the pipe by turning the gear to the right. Cut the pipe near one connector at one end of the pipe, guiding the cutter around the diameter, making a complete rotation. You may need to make several rotations. If there's not enough clearance to rotate the pipe cutter, use a hacksaw.  

Install the PVC Pipe

Scrub one threaded end with a wire brush, and wrap PTFE tape around the pipes to seal from leaks. Attach a PVC female adapter to one pipe end, and use the wrench to tighten the connection. 

Connect the mechanical coupling to the other pipe end, adjusting the rubber to make room for the pipe. Connect a mechanical coupling on each pipe end if you had to cut both pipe connectors. 

Measure the distance between the mechanical coupling and the interior of the female adapter. Mark the length on the PVC pipe, double check the measurements, and trim it to the right size. 

Clean the inside of the PVC pipe ends with PVC cleaner. Spread PVC glue on one end, insert the pipe into the female adapter, and give it a twist to spread glue.

Press the pipe with your fingers for several seconds to let the glue set. Attach the other pipe end inside the rubber sleeve on the mechanical coupling, and use a screwdriver to tighten the clasp.