In the world of plumbing, there are two main types of plastic pipes: ABS and PVC. Both materials have their own advantages and disadvantages, but they are generally not interchangeable. One of the most common questions that plumbers and DIYers alike get is whether or not ABS cement can be used on PVC.
The short answer is no. ABS cement is specifically designed to bond ABS pipes together. It will not create a strong bond with PVC pipes. In fact, if you try to use ABS cement on PVC, you may actually weaken the joint and make it more likely to leak.
Will it be Ideal to Use ABS Cement Instead of PVC Cement on PVC?
So, let’s get straight to the point. Can you substitute ABS cement for PVC cement when working with PVC pipes? The short answer is no. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But, before you throw your hands up in frustration, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty details and understand why these two types of cement aren’t interchangeable.
Why You Shouldn’t Use ABS Cement on PVC Pipes
ABS and PVC are both thermoplastic polymers, but they have different chemical compositions. ABS is made from acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene, while PVC is made from polyvinyl chloride. This difference in chemical composition means that the two plastics have different physical properties, such as solubility and melting point.
ABS cement is a solvent that dissolves the surface of ABS pipe and fittings. The solvent melts the plastic, and when the solvent evaporates, the plastic pieces fuse together. PVC cement works in a similar way, but it is specifically designed to dissolve PVC.
When you use ABS cement on PVC, the solvent is not as effective at dissolving the plastic. This is because PVC is not as soluble in ABS cement as ABS is. As a result, the joint between the PVC pipe and fitting will not be as strong as it would be if you used PVC cement.
Additionally, the chemical composition of ABS cement can damage PVC pipe and fittings over time. The solvents in ABS cement can cause the PVC to become brittle and crack. This is especially true in applications where the PVC is exposed to high temperatures or pressures.
If you need to join ABS pipe to PVC pipe, you must use a special ABS to PVC transition cement. This type of cement is designed to bond the two different plastics together. ABS to PVC transition cement contains a blend of solvents that are compatible with both ABS and PVC.
The Consequences of Using ABS Cement on PVC Pipes
Now, you might be curious about what happens if you ignore our advice and go ahead with ABS cement on PVC pipes. The result is less than ideal. When ABS cement is applied to PVC, it doesn’t form a secure bond. This could lead to leaks, which, in the world of plumbing, is a nightmare you want to avoid.
Even if the ABS cement does dry on PVC pipes, the bond is likely to be weak and prone to leaks. This is because the ABS cement is not able to dissolve and fuse with the PVC plastic. The bond is also weakened by the fact that ABS cement dries by evaporation, and the solvent in the cement cannot completely evaporate if it cannot dissolve the PVC plastic.
Damage to the PVC pipe
The MEK in ABS cement can attack the PVC pipe, making it brittle and more likely to crack or break. MEK is a strong solvent that can dissolve ABS plastic, and it can also attack PVC plastic. This is because PVC is made up of long chains of molecules called polymers, and MEK can break down these polymer chains.
Voids in the joint
The ABS cement may not be able to completely fill in the gaps between the pipe and fitting, which can create voids in the joint. These voids can weaken the joint and make it more likely to leak. Voids can be caused by a number of factors, such as using the wrong type of cement, not cleaning the pipe and fitting properly before joining them, or not applying enough cement.