How to Install a PVC Saddle Tee

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A PVC saddle tee can be used to quickly add a tee in an existing PVC pipe such as those used in irrigation systems. When sprinkler lines are laid out, it can be difficult to accurately anticipate the water coverage until the system is fully tested. If an area of the lawn is not getting enough water or if landscaping elements are added, it may be necessary to add sprinkler heads. Using a saddle tee (also called a snap tee) is a quick and easy way to add a tee in a sprinkler water line for a sprinkler head.

Using a PVC saddle tee can save you a lot of digging, and it goes together quickly and easily. These PVC fittings are available in many sizes and can be found at most home improvement stores and irrigation supply stores.

How to Install

  1. Expose the PVC pipe where the tee needs to be added. There is no need for a great big hole; just make sure the pipe is exposed enough to get the tee on without touching any dirt. This is where you will save a lot of time by using a saddle tee instead of a traditional PVC tee fitting because you will not have to dig a huge hole all around both sides and under the pipe to get those other types of fittings installed.
  2. Confirm that you have the correct saddle tee size for the pipe that is in place since PVC saddle tee fittings are available in various sizes.
  3. Clean the area of the pipe where you will be adding the saddle tee; use a rag and some sandpaper. Most likely the pipe has been in the dirt for some time and cleaning the area that will be making contact ensures proper bonding. If you have trouble getting the pipe clean, try using primer on the area to prepare the pipe.
  4. Apply PVC glue to the saddle tee and the pipe where the tee will make contact with the pipe. As with most PVC, it's a good idea to glue both sides, the fitting and the pipe. This ensures that there is glue coverage everywhere around the tee. You may even get some glue where the tee outlet is, but that's okay as you will be drilling that part out.
  5. Snap the tee on to the pipe starting with one edge first, and then push the rest on all the way. The tee will fit tightly around the pipe, so getting it to snap on can be a bit of a challenge. Once you get one edge on, the rest will follow easily. This is the hardest and messiest part of the job since the glue is on both sides of the pipe already and you have to handle it to fit the tee on. Consider using gloves to avoid getting any glue on your hands.
  6. With the saddle tee glued on, the final step is to drill a hole from the tee into the pipe. It's best to let the tee sit for about 10 minutes before you drill it to let the glue dry. Use the time to get your drill set up and find the right size drill bit or to get your new riser and sprinkler head ready. Use one hand to stabilize the pipe and the other to drill. Insert the drill bit into the opening of the tee, and drill into the pipe. Make sure not to drill all the way through both walls of the pipe.
  7. Once the hole is drilled, install the riser (without the sprinkler head), and turn on the sprinkler valve to flush out any extra PVC bits from drilling. Finally, install the sprinkler head or the sprinkler valve, and backfill the hole.