Tips for Working with PVC Conduit

PVC conduit is not something that most do-it-yourselfers come into contact with unless it’s being used in a plumbing situation, but that’s not to say that you won’t need to use it at some point for an electrical job, like delivering wire to a light post in your yard. Both uses are similar in function and installation, but it’s important to note that plumbing PVC is white and electrical PVC is gray.

But first, why should you use PVC Conduit?

PVC conduit that is UL listed for electrical use offers a number of benefits, including:

  • It is capable of withstanding many different types of corrosives, such as electrochemical, chemical and biological.
  • PVC weighs one-fifth as much as a similar length of galvanized steel tubing.
  • PVC can be easily cut using a sharp handsaw.
  • Connecting two lengths of PVC is easy with its unique bell design.
  • Securing connections is as easy as gluing them together.

Bending PVC Conduit

In the PVC aisle at your local home improvement store, you will notice that there is a huge assortment of PVC parts. Some are pre-bent in commonly needed shapes, like 90 degree turns. But in real life, sometimes things don’t turn out as perfect as you would like and you may need to customize your installation using a multitude of bends that are not as easily accessible. To accomplish your goal, you may have to bend the PVC yourself.

If the job requires more than one or two pieces of PVC to be bent to a specific shape, it is a good practice to first bend a length of EMT (electrical metal tubing) to get the dimensions down. Then, you can use the EMT as a template for the PVC bends, thus ensuring an accurate bend each time.

When it comes to bending the PVC, remember – it has to be HOT in order to bend! Do not try to bend it with your bare hands or you will get burned. Have a bucket of water ready with a pair of heavy duty gloves soaking in it. Once you get the PVC heated to the point that it can be bent, put the wet gloves on and make your bends. It’s quick, easy and best of all, painless.

Connecting PVC Conduit to Rigid Tubing

One of the most difficult parts of working with PVC conduit is making the transition from the PVC to rigid tubing. The connections are usually unreliable and can often leak, causing many headaches down the road. Here is how you can avoid that hassle.

  • Rough in the tubing so it’s ready to be installed
  • Use a good quality primer and PVC cement and glue the rigid tubing’s nipple right into the bell of the PVC conduit. Be sure to use lots of glue!
  • Once the glue sets and is completely dry, cover the joint with plenty of silicone adhesive, preferably the quick-setting type.

When the silicone is dry, you will have a strong, leak-proof joint that you can be proud of.

Dave Donovan is a freelance copywriter living in Atco, NJ. An electrician for 15 years, an injury forced him to pursue his true passion - writing.