How to Open Oatey PVC Cement？PVC cement is an indispensable tool for anyone doing PVC plumbing, irrigation, or drainage projects. Oatey is one of the major brands of PVC cement available.
However, Oatey’s cans have a reputation for being very difficult to open, especially the first time. The childproof caps are sealed incredibly tight at the factory to prevent leaks or evaporation during shipping and storage.
If you’ve struggled and strained unsuccessfully to get that first can open, don’t worry – you’re not alone! With the right technique and tools, anyone can open cans of Oatey PVC cement without injury or spills.
Why Oatey Cans Are Hard to Open
Oatey cement cans are intentionally designed to be very hard to open to avoid product loss. The metal caps are torqued on to over 150 foot-pounds of force during manufacturing. This forms an extremely tight metal-to-metal seal between the cap and can that prevents air exchange or leakage.
While this is great for product quality control, it can lead to sore hands and frustration when a home DIYer tries to open the can for the first time! Oatey does this for good reason – if the cap was loosened during shipping and handling, volatile solvents could evaporate and render the cement useless. Tight caps ensure the product stays fresh until you need to use it.
So don’t feel bad if you can’t get that new can open! The people at Oatey don’t expect you to be able to open it by hand. Follow these tips to successfully open cans of Oatey cement without trouble.
Detailed Guide on How to Open Oatey PVC Cement
This step-by-step guide will walk you through the best methods for easily opening Oatey cement cans.
Total Time: 5 minutes
PVC cement contains toxic solvents like tetrahydrofuran that can irritate skin and eyes. Acetone, another common solvent, is extremely flammable.
So before trying to open the can, make sure you:
🔥 Work in a well-ventilated area away from sparks or flames.
🧤 Put on cloth gloves to protect your hands. Nitrile gloves can dissolve in the cement.
👓 Wear safety goggles to avoid eye irritation.
🧺 Have rags on hand in case of drips or spills.
Choose the Right Tools
You’ll need two tools to open the can – one to grip the lid and one to grip the can. This prevents the can from spinning while you try to turn the lid.
Channellock pliers are perfect for getting a solid grip on the lid without crushing it. Adjust the jaws to fit around the diameter of the lid. This gives much more leverage compared to using your hand.
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🔩Rubber Strap Wrench:
A rubber strap wrench is ideal for holding the can body securely as you turn the lid with pliers. The soft rubber strap provides friction without denting the can. An adjustable band clamp can also work in a pinch.
Avoid using other pliers or vice grips directly on the can body – they can crush or deform it.
Break the Seal
Before you can unscrew the lid, you need to break the air-tight manufacturer’s seal. This initial seal is what makes the caps so hard to remove.
Here are two methods to safely break the seal:
🔨 Tap Method: Use the rubber handle of a screwdriver or hammer to gently tap around the lid. Apply moderate force with multiple taps. This helps weaken the seal. 💥
🔥 Heat Method: Warm the lid with a hair dryer or dipping just the lid into hot tap water. This makes the metal lid expand slightly to break the seal. Dry it off before proceeding. 🔆
Don’t pry up or try to bend the lid yet – you are just breaking the seal, not actually opening it.
Open the Can
Now that you’ve broken the seal, it’s time to actually open the can.
🔧 Strap the can: Place the rubber strap wrench around the lower third of the can. Tighten it snugly to secure the can.
🔩 Grip the lid: Fit the jaws of the channellock pliers around the lid so they grip the sides, not the top rim. Tighten firmly but not enough to significantly dent the lid.
🔄 Turn counter-clockwise: Keeping the can stationary with the strap wrench, turn the lid counter-clockwise with the channellocks to unscrew it. Rock the pliers back and forth while firmly pulling outwards to finally break the lid free.
🔓 Remove lid: Once past the initial resistance, the lid should unscrew freely. Pull it away from the can opening to remove.
- Oatey PVC Cement Can
- Cloth Gloves
- Safety Goggles
- Channellock Pliers
Materials: Rubber Strap Wrench Rags
If the lid still won’t budge after breaking the seal and using pliers, try these tips:
- Tap around the lid some more to loosen it further.
- Add a wider rubber band around the lid to improve grip.
- Try gently prying up the edge of the lid with a flat screwdriver in a few spots.
- Verify you are turning counter-clockwise to unscrew – righty tighty, lefty loosey.
- Avoid excessive force that deforms lid – this makes it harder to open.
- Be patient and keep trying different orientations of your tools.
With the techniques above, that stubborn Oatey can will eventually open! Just remember to never force it to the point of crushing the can or lid.
Using the Cement
Once open, you can finally access and use the PVC cement inside. To maximize the usable life of the cement:
- Only open the can when you are ready to use it.
- Close the lid tightly after each use.
- Store any partial cans airtight and upright to prevent leaks.
- Write the date opened on the can.
- Discard any cement that becomes thick, separated, or dried out.
Most PVC cement has a shelf life around 2 years when sealed properly between uses. Always check the manufacturer date and only use fresh cement for critical applications like plumbing and chemical handling. Old cement may still work fine for mock ups, crafts, and temporary projects.
If the lid gets stuck again after using the can, the cement residue around the threads is likely the cause. Make sure to wipe the lid and rim completely clean with a dry rag after each use to prevent this. Some solvents in the cement can dissolve plastics (See plastic bonder vs plastic weld), so clean any drips immediately.
When working with PVC cement:
- Only work in spaces with good ventilation to avoid inhaling toxic vapors.
- Wear gloves and eye protection.
- Keep away from sparks, flames, or other ignition sources.
- Avoid contact with skin and eyes. Rinse immediately if exposure occurs.
- Follow all directions from the manufacturer.
- Store upright and out of reach of children.
Dispose of cement cans properly when empty. Let any leftover cement fully cure before putting the can in the trash. Leftover liquid cement must be brought to a hazardous waste collection facility.
The initial seal requires some force to break, but a set of pliers provides all the leverage you need. A little tap-tap-tap around the rim helps too. Soon the lid will pop free, allowing you to access the cement within to complete your work. Proper storage keeps the remaining cement fresh for the next use.
So next time an Oatey can has you stumped, follow this guide to get it open without spills, damage, or injuries. Just be patient and persistent, and you’ll prevail over that stubborn lid!