How to install PVC saddle tee

A PVC saddle tee (snap tees) offers an easier way to introduce a tee into existing PVC pipelines.

It doesn’t not only save you from extensively digging around buried water lines but it also usually creates a leak-free connection, if done correctly.

Here is how to install PVC saddle tee in your irrigation system.

How to install PVC saddle tee

Before moving on to the actual steps, you want to have everything with you.

Here are the requirements:

Things Needed

The appropriate PVC saddle T fitting

Purchase the saddle tee size that will suit the pipe you’ll be teeing into.

Of course, manufacturers make a ton of sizes of PVC saddle T fittings and it’s important to get a matching size depending on how big your currently installed pipe is.

PVC primer and PVC cement

Primer penetrates and nicely softens the PVC surface prior to the addition of cement and helps create high-strength bonds and seals when welding plastic pipes and fittings.

Here is the thing: There are various types of primers (and cements) formulated for different kinds of plastic piping out there.

Be sure to read labels carefully when buying.

The names you can trust for these materials include Weld-On (Here is a great primer from them Weld-On...) and Oatey (Check this cement Oatey...).

Others

The other essentials are:

  • A rag (or piece of cloth/towel)
  • Sandpaper . we recommend 120 To...
  • A drill (with the correct bits)
  • PVC Cleaner (optional)

Preliminaries

Even the best laid plans can go awry without the proper preparation.

Here is what to tackle before you go ahead: 

Expose the pipe

You can use different tactics to access the PVC pipe you’ll be working.

For instance, you can use your hands (wear protective gloves before this) to dig up the soil covering the PVC pipe.

This should work unless the pipes are buried too deep (quite rare) or you’re dealing with hardened soil.

We recommend using a shovel if you’re facing these difficulties.

Tip: Uncover the pipe just to the degree necessary. Remember that you’re not fixing a conventional PVC tee fitting (which requires that you dig up the sides and below the pipes).

Remove dirt and other contaminants from the exposed area

With the pipe adequately in the open, you proceed to the ever-important pipe cleaning step.

You see, there’s no way you’re going to succeed if contaminants such as dirt, oil, grease, etc. are on the surfaces you’ll be teeing (your goal is the best bonding possible, right?).

In fact, even minor residuals may cause problems down the road so you need to ensure a clean surface.

Simply sand the elements off the area then use the rag/ towel/ piece of cloth to wipe the debris away.

Tip: Apply an adequate amount of PVC cleaner on the section should the dirt prove stubborn.

How to install PVC saddle tee -Installation procedure

Step 1: Priming

There are people, including professionals, who dismiss the priming step but it’s generally a bad practice when getting PVC pipes ready for gluing.  

How to prime:

Using the applicator (the small brush found inside the lid), apply a layer of primer to both the surfaces you want to join -the saddle (the interior) and the PVC pipe.

For a super strong cement weld, it’s best to apply the primer in a circular motion.

Step 2: Gluing

Note: Act while the primer is still yet here- you only have a window of about 10 seconds to apply the PVC cement after you’re done priming.

How to apply glue:

Using the applicator as described in step 1, apply PVC cement to both the primed PVC pipe (at the point where the fitting will contact the pipe) and the saddle tee.

Be liberal during the application- you want to have enough glue on the two surfaces for the strongest connection.

Reapply a generous coat of cement to the pipe as well as to the saddle if necessary.

Tip: Breathing emissions from the cement and the PVC primer might make you dizzy or cause other health issues. Exercise caution when applying the two!

Step 3: Installation

Beginning with one edge, thrust the tee onto the pipe- make the other edge to go all the way- until it snaps to position.

It’s advisable to slightly rotate the PVC saddle about 15° in either direction to uniformly distribute the cement.

Important: Always hold the tee onto the pipe for not less than 10 seconds. This is long enough for the cement to dry and helps retain the saddle in a perfect position.

Tip: Chances are there’s glue everywhere by now. You may wear gloves to keep the mess of your hands.

Step 4: Drilling

Allow cement to dry. This should take not more than 10 minutes.

Now drill through the freshly installed tee’s inlet all the way to the center of the pipe you’re tapping into.

Work with a properly sized drill bit here (use one whose diameter equals that of the tee’s inlet) but be alert- you don’t want to drill through the other wall of the pipe (that could trigger a leak!).

Step 5: Clean the pipe line

To remove waste from the pipe, insert a neatly rolled up sheet of sandpaper into the newly drilled hole and turn it a handful of times.

Step 6: Install PVC pipe section or sprinkler accessories

The last step involves you mounting the relevant sprinkler accessory or even PVC piping and covering the pipe.

Tip: Please review the specific manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations prior to installation. Most of them will include useful details to help you complete the process quickly and tidily.

Summary

To recap how to install PVC saddle tee, you start be priming the two parts to be joined- the saddle tee and the pipe itself.

Next, apply cement on the two areas to be joined within 10 seconds of priming.

All that remains now is snapping the tee in place then drilling a hole all the way to the center of the PVC pipe.

Lastly, clean the fragments from the hole with the sandpaper and mount the sprinkler parts/ PVC pipe section you need.

Overall, this is the quickest way to add a tee to an already installed PVC system.

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