What Exactly Is PVC?
First created in 1872, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) was commercially produced by BF Goodrich Company in the 1920s. Since then, it has become widespread. As one of the most-used plumbing materials, PVC pipe is known for being very durable and long-lasting. In fact, PVC pipes last approximately 100 years. Of course, there are various factors that determine just how long specific PVC pipes will survive, including what it’s exposed to and how it’s installed. The good news is that there are some things you can do to protect your PVC pipes and prevent their deterioration.
PVC pipe is a drain or vent line type of plumbing pipe. PVC initially gained popularity because it was lighter and easier to work with than traditional galvanized steel pipe. PVC pipe is moderately easy to install and requires little more than a hacksaw and a miter box to cut. PVC glues together with solvents.
What Is PVC Piping?
When you look under your sink, chances are that you will see PVC plumbing under there. PVC is a thermoplastic that is used in many industries, including construction, healthcare, clothing, and consumer goods. It’s a strong, versatile plastic that can last a long time.
However, you will probably notice that the hot water pipes leading to your faucet are not PVC. This is because PVC can melt or have structural problems when it has prolonged contact with hot water. That is why PVC can only be used for drainage or for miscellaneous plumbing pipes, because it needs to last.
PVC is the most affordable type of plumbing material on the market, it is effective and it is extremely durable. Our team can provide the necessary re-piping and give you an accurate estimate.
Some of the most significant properties of PVC are:
Density. PVC is dense compared with other plastics.
Low-cost. PVC is readily available and inexpensive.
Rigidity. Rigid PVC ranks well for hardness and durability.
Strength. Rigid PVC has excellent tensile strength, meaning it takes a lot of force to stretch and break it.
How is PVC Used in Construction?
PVC pipe is an ideal material for many home projects including plumbing and irrigation. It is known for its rigidity, strength, durability, reliability and affordability. However, like any other plumbing material, it has to be properly installed and cared for in order to function properly in both the short- and long-term. The above information was created to help you ensure that your PVC piping projects last as long as you need them to.
Flexible PVC is used to create flooring like vinyl tiles and sheet flooring, as well as wall coverings and wire and cable insulation. It’s used in many industries like health care and education because it is water-resistant and easy on feet.
Window frames and siding are also made from uPVC and help consumers save energy. Vinyl window frames, for instance, provide three times the heat insulation of aluminum windows.
How Long Does PVC Last?
PVC pipes were introduced decades ago as alternatives to other plumbing materials available at the time. These new inexpensive and durable pipes quickly became popular and are still the type of piping that is most-used for water supply lines. While it is estimated that PVC pipes will last about 100 years, the exact lifespan is not known because PVC piping has not been around that long yet.
Of course, the natural lifespan of PVC pipes depends on the specific uses and other factors. In this post, we will take a look at how PVC can become weakened or damaged, as well as how you can help prevent deterioration and increase the lifespan of the PVC in your home.
Does PVC Pipe Get Brittle With Age?
PVC pipe weakens with age and becomes brittle as it continues to lose more plasticizers. The time differs for different PVC pipes depending on the polymers used in making them. Let’s look at how it works.
Polymers experience different stages of degradation over time while they are in storage or in service. As mentioned earlier, the degradation is accelerated by factors like temperature variation, exposure to sunlight, and exposure to chemicals.
These factors encourage the strengthening of chemical bonds and their crosslinks between the molecular chains of the polymer.
When the bond is stronger, the polymer’s macromolecular chains become tightly held together and therefore cannot move flexibly as they used to move before.
The polymer becomes hard and brittle, such that it can break easily on a small impact. That means the polymer’s behavior changes and cannot function effectively as before due to the impact of aging.
Sun Exposure Harms PVC Piping
The sunlight has ultraviolet sun rays, which contribute largely to the polymer degradation of the PVC pipes, causing them to crack and break. PVC pipes that are always exposed to sunlight fade their color and then lift and break.
The change in color is a result of the oxidizing properties of the UV light on the polymer composition. The polymer absorbs the UV light and the heat from the sun and undergoes an oxidation process that disorients the chemical composition of the PVC pipe.
The only remedy to this is to install PVC pipes underground where they are safe from direct sunlight.
Debris and Weather Damage to Underground PVC
For PVC piping systems that are buried underground, sunlight will not be a problem, but debris, soil movement, and freezing temperatures may be. The debris and rocks that are underground with your pipes can lead to friction, which can cause damage to PVC pipes. Additionally, in climates where freezing temperatures occur, PVC pipes may be at risk. When the ground freezes and thaws, it can cause soil to shift, contract, and expand, which can all damage a plumbing system. While PVC is more flexible than other materials, it does still have a breaking point, and it’s often soil movement that can cause it to fail.
Advantages of Using PVC
PVC piping started to be used in drain-waste-vent piping during the reconstruction following World War II. Since then, it has only gained in popularity and has become a top choice in plumbing around the world
Both durable and versatile, PVC offers many advantages in plumbing.
Strong and durable. Recyclable PVC pipe hardly cracks or breaks compared to cast-iron pipe. It can also last for at least 50 years.
Affordable. Compared to materials like wood or copper, PVC is cost-effective, giving you value for your money.
Lightweight. PVC materials are lighter than other building materials, making them less expensive to transport.
Fire-Resistant. The high chlorine and low oxygen content of PVC’s plastic makes it fire-resistant.
Chemically Resistant. PVC rarely reacts when it comes into contact with other substances such as oils, inorganic acids, fats, salts, bases, and alcohols.
Versatile. PVC can be molded into a variety of shapes and forms, as well as integrated into fabrics for durability.
Disadvantages of Using PVC
There are a few disadvantages of PVC to keep in mind.
Releases Toxins. When PVC burns, it emits dioxin and hydrogen chloride, two highly toxic chemicals. Manufacturing facilities working with PVC must have specialized ventilation equipment to handle the fumes.
Not Biodegradable. Although it can be recycled, PVC will sit in the trash for a long time because it does not disintegrate.
Cannot Be Used in Heat or UV. PVC can break down when it comes in contact with heat or UV rays, so it cannot be used outdoors or to pipe hot water.
Call the BEST Plumber for All Your Plumbing Needs
If you need help with your shower, toilet, sink, or any other plumbing issue, call Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321 for professional drain cleaning methods. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.