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What Is Electrofusion?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Electrofusion is a technique for joining plastic plumbing, where heat softens and melts the pipes, causing them to fuse together into a solid joint. The resulting joint is extremely strong and reliable, resisting leaks, corrosion, and other issues. Contractors can use this process on a variety of job sites, depending on experience, personal preference, and the needs of a given job. Personnel must receive adequate training in the process to perform it safely and correctly.

In electrofusion, pipes come loaded with heating elements that activate when current is passed through them. The heat causes the pipe to start melting, flowing up against another pipe end or a fitting. The operator can manage the electrofusion process with a control box, set for the correct diameter and thickness of piping to make sure the current is adequate. The process can be very fast, especially with skilled personnel at work.

With electrofusion, the pipes need to be clamped in place to make sure they are in the right position. The clamps are left until the joint cools and solidifies, making it possible to release the pipes without worrying about loss of integrity at the joint. It is important to avoid jostling or touching the pipes during cooling, as this can interfere with the formation of a smooth and secure joint by straining the plastic and creating weak points, or knocking the pipe ends out of alignment.

HDPE and MDPE plastics can both be joined with electrofusion. This is essentially a plastic welding process without the need to use exposed torches and similar equipment. Safety concerns include the current, making it important to properly ground the pipes, cover them while working, and alert personnel in the area to the fact that there is live electricity. It is also possible for the process to generate fumes, some of which could be hazardous to human health. Working in a well ventilated area can help to address this issue.

Numerous companies make electrofusion kits, including clamps, control boxes, cover sheets, grounding supplies, and so forth. They can make custom systems for specific applications as well as generic sets ready for basic use in most situations. Companies considering the adoption of an electrofusion system can get information about available systems and their operation from manufacturers. Many companies also offer demonstrations and equipment loans to give buyers a chance to test a system and see if it will meet their needs.

AboutMechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AboutMechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon241675 — On Jan 19, 2012

Can we join an HDPE stub end to HDPE pipes using MDPE electrofusion couplers?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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