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How To Bend PVC Pipes Effortlessly Without Tools

When you’re installing or fixing your irrigation system, you won’t always get the exact shape of PVC pipes you need to complete the project.

But PVC is hard and stiff; you won’t be able to bend it at will. So, how do you work around this?

Thankfully, by simply applying heat to the pipe, you can bend it at home, even without specialized tools.

Let’s look at a few easy methods to bend PVC piping for your next DIY project. 

Safety Tips for Bending PVC Pipes With Heat 

Before we get on with bending the pipes, remember to be extra cautious when dealing with PVC and heat. That’s because PVC can produce harmful vapors and fumes like carbon monoxide and chlorinated furans when heated, so you need to

  • Wear a gas mask
  • Put on safety glasses 
  • Bend the pipes in a well-ventilated area ( do not bend PVC indoors )

Remember to wear heat-proof gloves or oven mitts to protect your hands when you touch the hot pipe.

Apart from the fumes, one of the main components of PVC, vinyl chloride, is carcinogenic. It’s not harmful when it's sealed inside the PVC polymer. But if the PVC goes up in flames, vinyl chloride will be released into the air.

So it’s best not to use a direct flame on the pipe. 

Bending PVC Pipe Using Heat 

You can bend PVC pipes by applying heat to the part where you want the bend to go.

PVC is what scientists call an amorphous polymer, which means the particles that make up its structure are not arranged in fixed arrays.

Applying heat to the PVC, therefore, softens it up and makes it easier to bend. Once it cools, it will stay in that new position. 

Method 1: Use a Hair Dryer 

A hairdryer is a safer way to heat PVC since it doesn’t expose the pipe to a naked flame. Here’s how you can use a hairdryer to bend PVC:

How to Bend PVC Pipe With a Hair Dryer

  1. Mark the point where you want to place the bend with a marker or tape. Then put two marks about eight inches on either side of your desired bending point; this will be your heat region. 
  2. Place the PVC pipe on a supporting structure so the pipe is not level with the table. Make sure the bending point is right in the middle of the supporting object. You can use a log or stone. 
  3. Turn on the hairdryer and apply heat to the heat region, holding the dryer three inches away from the PVC pipe.
  4. With your other hand, gently apply pressure in the direction you want the pipe to bend.

The heat from the hairdryer is enough to bend the pipe. However, it may also cause the pipe to collapse and kink ( as pictured below), making it unusable.

bend pvc pipe
Image courtesy

 To avoid kinks in the pipe, you can use any one of the following tips.

Inserting a Spring or Coil 

2 fill pvc pipe before heating
Source: Pxhere

Insert a spring into the pipe at the point you want to make the bend. You can attach a long thin wire on one end of the spring to make it easier to lower into position. Then follow the steps above using the hairdryer.

Once you’re done, simply pull out the spring and let the pipe cool until it’s ready for use.

Using Sand

fill the pipe, close one side with tape
Image courtesy

Fill up the pipe with sand up to about an inch or two past the point you want to bend. Plug one end of the pipe with a cork or tape to stop the sand from falling out.

Now follow the steps outlined above for using the hairdryer until you bend the pipe to your required shape. Pour out the sand and let it cool.

Here’s a simple step-by-step video to walk you through the process.

Method 2: Using the Oven or Stove-Top

If you don’t have a hairdryer, you can simply pop some sand into the oven or on the stove. The sand will transfer heat to the pipe, making it flexible enough to bend.

Why sand and not any other material? That’s because sand holds on to heat for a long time. Think of how the sand at the beach feels warm hours after the sun goes down.

The sand won’t cool down as soon as it’s out of the oven and will pass on the heat to the pipe. Plus, sand helps to fill out the pipe so it won’t kink.

How to Bend PVC Pipes Using the Oven or Stove-Top

  1. Mark the point where you want to bend the pipe with a marker or tape.
  2. Fill the pipe with sand up to 3 inches beyond the bending point.
  3. Pour the sand into a heat-resistant container.
  4. Place the container with sand into the oven or on the stove and turn the heat up to 431 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the sand to allow the heat to distribute evenly.
  5. Pour the sand back inside the pipe and let it sit for about 50 seconds to two minutes.

    hold steady and fill with sand an inch above bending point
    How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools

  6. Then bend the pipe gently until you get the desired angle. 

    bend pipe to make fittings without tools
    How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools

  7. Pour out the sand and let the pipe cool.

Once it’s cooled, it will be ready for use.

Watch how to do it here.

Method 3: With Boiling Water 

The temperature of the boiling water is high enough to make PVC flexible. Here are the steps you can follow to bend a PVC pipe with boiling water.

  1. Boil a kettle of water until steam starts coming out.
  2. Put one end of the pipe on to the kettle’s spout, so the steam goes directly through the pipe.

    heating water to 212 degrees Fahrenheit
    How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools

  3. Leave it for about five minutes, then slowly bend the pipe into the desired shape.

    heating water to 212 degrees Fahrenheit
    How to Bend PVC Pipe With No Tools

    Once it cools, the job is done.

Pro tip: Remember to let it cool all the way through before you use the pipe. Also, pressure test the bent pipe to ensure it’s strong enough to withstand the water pressure. 

Your Irrigation System DIY Project

Now that you’ve managed to bend your pipe, you’re ready to complete your project. 

All you need now is a quality sprinkler system or parts designed to last for many years to come.

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We stock the best irrigation equipment like sprinkler parts, controllers, timers, and sensors from the best brands like Hunter, Toro, and Rainbird.

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You can get yours, too. Buy your irrigation parts from the Sprinkler Supply Store today.

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