Oops. What are the chances?

I’ve been sticking PVC bits together for a fat 40 years in all temperatures, awkward places and positions, and it always works. Say what you will about PVC as plumbing material, it has its faults, but ease of sticking the pieces together without leaking is not among them.


So naturally under perfect workbench conditions, mine sprung a real geyser of a leak. And it’s the ONE fitting for which I don’t have multiple spares. What are the chances? Uncle Murphy just had to get one lick in. It’s so irritating I’m seriously thinking about biking to town today rather than waiting for tomorrow morning’s water run.

But I probably won’t. As for data, well, I did use the thing for shower water yesterday but I didn’t get to mix it with as much cold water as expected…


…because the water never got all that hot. This might have been because the sunlight was never all that bright…


It’s that time of year, and we’re downwind of a grass fire somewhere. But still, I hoped for more. And temperature retention overnight was predictably nil. That might change when the glass cover goes on … but I doubt it.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Oops. What are the chances?

  1. Ben says:

    With pvc pipe you really need to use that special cleaner fluid that is often sold together with pvc cement, or at least lightly sand inside and out before gluing.

  2. matismf says:

    An acetone wipe down also works well…

  3. Joel says:

    I always use primer.

  4. Bear says:

    “That might change when the glass cover goes on … but I doubt it.”

    What is the collector hose made of? You may not want to permanently install a cover, lest hot summer days ruin the hose. I recall you said the initial water out was scalding.

  5. Steve in CA says:

    I just had the same experience. I wonder if they have changed the formula for the glue.

  6. Norman says:

    Quite a few years ago I developed the much criticized habit of buying multiples of everything – PVC fittings, light switches, screws, nuts and washers, oil filters, you name it. No matter what it is, if you needed one, and get it, the odds that you’ll need another increase exponentially, if for no other reason than you now have something in service for which you possess no spares.

    The real trick isn’t in having the second (or third, or fourth…) of the item on hand, but being sufficiently well organized that you can actually find the blasted thing when you need it, and find it in a reasonable fraction of the time it would take to go buy another.

    A thought: there is PVC pipe, and CPVC pipe, both of which look very much alike, and which require different primers and glues for each, and then there’s the ABS stuff (most of which, IIRC, are black). I’m assuming you used the correct primer and glue for the fitting you had. And, I’ve run into extremely slight sizing differences between PVC manufacturers caused by mould variations (or chemical content variations) which, when mixed up, look well-glued and good initially but wind up leaking. There’s also the Schedule 40 stuff (which is the pressurized plumbing standard), Schedule 80 (usually confined to gray plastic electrical conduit, but I have seen it in white), and thin wall (which has some special descriptive terminology I can’t remember) which is commonly used in lawn sprinker systems. The thin wall stuff, and the much cheaper (as in “cheaper but not less expensive”) fittings for it are particularly susceptible to multiple failure modes; I’ve dug up several irrigation systems solely for the purpose of replacing thin wall with Schedule 40 to end the maintenance headaches.

  7. Ben says:

    Ya know, pvc isn’t really rated for hot water, we are supposed to use cpvc for that. Also, you aren’t really supposed to pressurize pvc until the joints have had time to cure. That said, I am guilty of violating both of those rules routinely with the full expectation that all will be well.

    Still, I’m thinking that scalding hot water of Joel’s initial test, combined with fairly freshly glued joints may have been tempting Murphy a bit too much.

  8. Norman says:

    RE: Ben’s comment; I hadn’t thought about PVC and real hot water. PEX would be a better bet. It would require new tools, and it’s not as easy to work with as PVC / CPVC, but it’s much easier to run, and it’ll expand enough that if it freezes once or twice it won’t burst (some of the plastic fittings for PEX will, though, so I’d suggest brass). And, IIRC, there’s a flavor of PEX that’s UV-resistant.

    Which makes me wonder – Joel, any idea what the difference in UV is at your altitude vs sea level?

To the stake with the heretic!