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Thread: Inserting tee in existing PVC pipe

  1. #1

    Default Inserting tee in existing PVC pipe

    I want to insert a PVC tee fitting into an existing underground 1/2" CL 200 pipe in my sprinkler system. I cannot move the existing pipe apart to insert the tee. I know I could use a slip repair coupling along with the tee, but a landscaper once told me he routinely inserts fittings into existing CL 200 pipe by first cutting out a small section of the pipe to allow for the fitting, then digging the pipe up on each side of the place where he wants to insert the fitting so he can bend the pieces up enough to spread the pipe gap sufficiently to insert the fitting. He then pushes the pipes and fitting back down into place. I didn't get the details, so I have questions.

    1. How far back would I have to dig up the 1/2" CL 200 pipe on each side of the fitting to have enough pipe length to bend without exceeding the bending radius of the pipe? I know 1/2" SCH 40 can take some bending, but I don't know how much you can bend the thinner walled CL 200 before it crimps or cracks.

    2. Do I glue the fitting on one piece first, then bend the pipes up and insert the other end into the fitting, or do I attempt to raise both ends of the pipe and insert the fitting all at once so I can twist it to spread the glue?

    3. Is is a matter of tipping the pipe ends into the fitting, or bending the pipe into a S shape to get the ends square with the fitting?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Irrigation Contractor Fireguy97's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    Kamloops, in Beautiful British Columbia


    1. Normally I dig out at least four feet of pipe to insert a fitting. The longer the better. I dig out 1 foot on one side of the fitting, and at least four feet on the other side of the fitting for the bending part.

    2. Glue the fitting on one end first.

    Are you inserting a Tee fitting for a swing joint, or a branch line? If you are branching the line, glue the Tee to the branch PVC first. That way the Tee fitting will be at the correct angle when you attach it to the first side of the existing PVC. You don't want the Tee fitting too high or too low (facing down). Then glue the Tee fitting and the branch line to one side of the existing line. Then cut the existing (last piece) pipe to the correct length. Lift the pipe up, hold it in the middle of the four foot section, and push the cut end down into the fitting.

    Don't forget to bevel all cut sections of pipe before gluing.

    3. I would tip the pipe ends into the fitting because I don't have a clue as to what you mean by bending a section of 1/2" PVC into an S shape. I think that would be pretty cool. Get pictures if you bend it into as S shape.

    It's easier if you have help, if you don't you will probably want to lay on the ground to get close enough to use both hands for the bend. I normally lay a piece of cloth under the pipe so that soil doesn't collect of the glued fitting or pipe if I accidently touch the walls of the trench while bending.

    Last edited by Fireguy97; 08-30-2010 at 10:14 PM.

  3. #3


    Thanks, Mick, for the clear description of the procedure. I really appreciate that you took the time to write out the steps in detail.

    It actually worked much easier than I thought it would. I glued the tee on the first piece of pipe then sat on the ground and used my foot to hold the tee up a bit while I held the last piece of pipe up and bent it down into the tee. As soon as the pipe entered the tee, I pulled my foot aside and pressed the tee and pipe together.

    What I meant by bending the pipe into an S shape is actually what I did. If you look at the last piece of pipe from where it comes out of the ground, then arcs up to one hand then down to the other hand which then bends it straight and into the fitting, it resembles a very gradual S on its side (see picture). At least, that is what I meant by S shape.
    Name:  S Shape Pipe Bend.jpg
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