How to Loosen PVC Pipe

PVC is used to make sewer pipes which exist in many homes. The pipe is strong and durable, and is connected together with PVC couplings. The couplings are joined to the pipe first with PVC primer, and then PVC cement (glue). However, after PVC cement has set (taking roughly 30 seconds) the joint is very strong and can only be cut from the pipe to remove it. Therefore, the window of opportunity for loosening the PVC joint is short, and must be done immediately after the coupling has been installed.

Use a utility knife to scrape away burrs from the PVC pipe.
  1. Hold the coupling with one hand, and place the other on the pipe close to the coupling -- wear work gloves. Quickly pull the pipe from the coupling, twisting it (if possible) as it is pulled. The quicker this is done after installation, the better. Discard the coupling, as it must not be used again. Free the pipe end of primer and cement with fine sandpaper. However, if the primer/cement cannot be removed, cut off the end of the pipe so that the remaining pipe can be reused. If the cement has dried in the joint, it has to be cut from the pipe.

  2. Mark the PVC pipe close to the sealed coupling, where no primer or cement exists -- use a black felt tip pen. Cut through the pipe using a hacksaw. If possible, use a power saw or powered miter saw. Make the cut straight (90 degrees to the pipe).

  3. Remove any burrs from the pipe end by scraping around the cut with a utility knife. Use fine sandpaper to remove and small plastic fragments. Wipe the pipe end with a damp rag to free it of any dirt.


  • Wear eye goggles when cutting through the PVC pipe.

About the Author

Steve Sloane started working as a freelance writer in 2007. He has written articles for various websites, using more than a decade of DIY experience to cover mostly construction-related topics. He also writes movie reviews for Inland SoCal. Sloane holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and film theory from the University of California, Riverside.