Everything You Need to Know About PVC Pipes

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There is a wide range of plastic plumbing pipes used in residential plumbing, but PVC has become the industry standard for most use cases

This is because it is easy to cut and install, not to mention the many benefits it offers. Despite this, many people don’t know much about PVC and even believe false claims about it.

In this article, you will discover some advantages of PVC pipes and myths circulating about this type of pipe.

 

3 Debunked Myths About PVC Pipes


When considering a piping system for your renovation project or new home, you are usually faced with a choice between plastic and metal pipes. 

Although plastic is the more advantageous of the two, the fact that it is relatively new in the market leads to common myths about it.

Here are some misconceptions you need to know about PVC plastic pipes before you decide if it is suitable for your home

1. PVC is unsafe for drinking water


There are tons of rumours that water in plastic bottles contains bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. This leads to thinking that the water coming out of PVC water pipes is not safe to drink.  

The truth is that plastic pipes do not contain BPA. They are made from different materials and go through a very rigorous manufacturing process.

Public health standards and certification programmes govern PVC water pipe manufacture, so that food, water, consumer products, and the environment are protected wherever they are used. Accredited bodies such as ASTM International and NSF International enforce these standards.

In addition, plastic pipe is certified to meet the performance and drinking water requirements of NSF/ANSI/CAN 61, which is a performance-based standard that assesses the number of contaminants that leach from the products into drinking water.

It should also be noted that the chemical compounds used in the manufacture of PVC are polymers. However, they are neither inert nor leachable. In fact, plastic pipes are the best choice to avoid corrosion, metal leaching, scale build-up, and damage caused by very aggressive water

It also goes without saying that PVC pipes’ durability makes them suitable for a wide range of water types, including well water, highly chlorinated water and water with high salt content. PVC pipes can also withstand extremely high temperatures.

2. PVC is expensive


The second myth about PVC is that it is a very expensive pipe; when in fact, the opposite is true. It is cheaper than stainless steel, copper and iron pipes. Also, compared to its closest competitor chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes, PVC is less expensive.

Basically, PVC is made from two common chemicals, chlorine and ethylene. The durable thermoplastic material (PVC) produced from this combination is used widely in various applications, not just pipes. 

PVC is used in the manufacture of medical devices, and in wire and cable insulation and so on. Moreover, PVC is the third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer globally.

Besides, if you’re considering the use of pipes made from materials other than plastic, you should be aware of the disadvantages that come with certain choices. 

For example, galvanized steel is known to be more flame resistant than PVC. However, it shouldn’t be used underground; that is, not unless it is properly protected or covered. It could also contain lead — a material that corrodes quickly and could shorten the lifespan of your pipes.

3. PVC is not green


The third misconception about PVC is that it cannot be recycled and contributes significantly to the global accumulation of plastic waste.

Studies have shown that few products are more easily recyclable than PVC. In fact, PVC can be recycled many times without degrading the materials it is made of, so it can be used in multiple product life cycles. 

Thanks to the versatility and high recyclability of PVC, its manufacture makes it possible to achieve zero waste, as long as the right resources and facilities are available. PVC pipes are, therefore, environmentally friendly.

 

4 Great Things About PVC Pipes


Now that you know all the misconceptions about PVC pipes, it's time to find out what makes this type of pipe great.

1. Flexibility


An extremely important performance advantage of PVC pipes is their breaking strength. This is because PVC pipes are extremely flexible and can bend without breaking, which means that they can be used successfully even in settings where the surface will be subjected to external loading.

The modulus of PVC pipes’ elasticity is a significant advantage in underground applications, especially where ground vibrations are expected. In pressure applications, it also reduces the extent of water hammering or hydraulic shock which occurs when a fluid in motion is suddenly forced to stop (like when you shut off the valves in old pipes) or change direction quickly. 

On the other hand, rigid pipes, such as those made of concrete, ceramic or clay, cannot bend when loaded and suffer collapse and wall crushing when their load limit is reached.

 

When a PVC pipe is subjected to an external load, its diameter begins to bend. If the pipe is buried in favourable soil conditions, the combined rigidity of the soil and the pipe will resist deflection.

2. Reduced failures and blockages in wastewater pipelines


Pipe obstruction is a major concern in any pipe system. This problem can cause hours of repair and incalculable damage.

In systems with many connections, the slow water flow through a pipe increases the risk of blockage and failure.

Due to its extremely smooth coating, PVC pipe–compared to a pipe of another material–reduces resistance to water flow and ensures that the water reaches its destination with adequate pressure. This also prevents build-up in sewer and wastewater systems. However, other types of plastic pipes, such as PE drainage pipes, are suitable for wastewater drainage. 

3. Long service life


PVC pipes have already proven themselves on the market. Studies have shown that the life expectancy of PVC pipes is over 100 years

The first PVC pipes were installed more than eight decades ago, and most of these are still in use in 2021. PVC is resistant to weathering, corrosion, chemical rot, impact and abrasion. Therefore, PVC pipes are suitable for all types of long-term applications, including domestic water, rainwater, sewerage, and deep underground piping systems. 

The other advantage of PVC is that it remains resistant in a range of temperatures. This reduces the number of pipe breaks and other maintenance problems.

Time to Use PVC Pipes


Now that you know about the essential details of PVC pipes, you can start considering them for your projects. However, you have to make sure it is suitable for its intended use. 

If you’re unsure, you can always get in touch with trusted plastic processing companies to see which type of plastic pipe will suit your project best. 

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

Sudheer T R is the Managing Director at Polyfab Plastic Industry LLC, experts in high quality, technologically advanced plastic piping solutions in the UAE. The combination of academic interest, field exposure and market experience of 15 years has given Sudheer the force to harness cutting-edge technologies in today's most rigorous construction environment.