Whether you’re an electrician, plumber, or just someone interested in DIY projects, bending a PVC pipe is something I think is useful to learn. That being said, you need to make sure you follow the correct procedure. For example, overheating PVC can create toxic fumes that can be dangerous to breathe in.
I’ve outlined a few methods below on how you can bend a PVC pipe, and I would recommend choosing the method you feel most comfortable with.
Tools Needed to Bend PVC Pipe
- Heat Gun – You need heat to bend a PVC, and I find that a heat gun, when used correctly, does a good job of that. The heat makes the PVC pipe malleable, allowing you shape the PVC pipe much easier.
- PVC Pipe Cutter – You’ll most likely need to cut a portion of your PVC pipe if it’s too big, and the best PVC pipe cutters can do that with no issue.
- 1/2 or 3/4-inch PVC Pipe – Pretty self explanatory here.
Before You Get Started
To practice, cut a length of 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch diameter PVC pipe, about 3 feet long, then lay it on a flat surface… garage floor, sheet of plywood or whatever. For more information on this, check out our guide on how to cut pvc pipe.
Turn the heat gun on high, place the “business end” about an inch, or thereabouts, from the section of pipe you want to heat. (If you get too close, you’ll likely burn the pipe.) Slowly turn the pipe and move the heat gun back and forth 3 or 4 inches in each direction.
Be sure to wear a good pair of leather gloves and work in a well-ventilated area.
You’ll see that, in just a minute or so, the pipe becomes malleable. Turn off the heat gun, pick up the pipe and slowly curve it to the desired shape.
Bending PVC Pipe: Method 1
Sand. Use clean sand that you can get from most any hardware store. Or pick up a small bucketful of sand from a yard and garden shop, from the beach, or wherever.
Next, fit a PVC cap onto one end of the pipe, fill it with sand and tamp it down (I use a wooden dowel). Then place another cap on the opposite end.
NOTE: Do not glue the caps to the pipe. That’s not to say you can’t glue pvc in general because you can (Check out how to glue pvc pipe).
Heat the pipe as described above. The sand evenly distributes the heat and will keep it from kinking. Bend the pipe, then let it cool for a couple of minutes.
TIP: You can speed-up the cooling process by wiping a wet sponge on the pipe.
TIP: Pull the pipe just a smidge beyond the desired radius. Because of the recovery characteristics of PVC, the pipe will often “spring back” slightly after cooling.
Bending PVC Pipe: Method 2
Instead of sand, you can insert a spring, such as the Pipe Viper. For large diameter pipe, I insert a used garage door spring. I acquired a couple of different sizes free that were discarded by a garage door supplier.
Follow the directions in Method #1.
TIP: Attach a wire, or small chain, at one of the spring to aid in removal after the pipe cools.
Bending PVC Pipe: Method 3
I ran across a nifty tool called PVC BendIt. If you do a lot of bending – and don’t mind spending a bit of money – you’ll find this little beauty indispensable.
One of the things I like about the BendIt device is you don’t need to insert sand or a spring when bending, which makes it easier and quicker to bend the pipe.