PVC pipes have significantly improved plumbing. It replaces cast iron and galvanized pipes in almost any situation. Lightweight and easy to use, PVC is available in many sizes. Fittings and related hardware are readily available at plumbing and hardware stores.
Step 1 – Understanding PVC
PVC pipes are made from polyvinyl chloride and plastic. It is used in drains, as vents and for treating waste in buildings. It is rigid, light and strong. Due to the ease of installation of the PVC pipe, it is ideal for drainage applications under kitchen sinks and bathroom vanities. The many fittings available to attach PVC make it universal in all environments, except for very high temperature applications. It works much better for plumbing than the old standard cast iron pipe because it does not need to be hot welded, it resists almost all alkaline or toxic substances and is easy to install. There are two types, defined in the standards: Type 40 for individual houses and Type 80 for industrial environments.
• Easy to install
• chemical resistant
• Fire retardant
• High resistance to internal corrosion
• Immunity to galvanic or electrolytic attacks
• No toxicity, no smell and no taste
• low pressure drop
• low thermal conductivity
• low cost of installation
• virtually maintenance free
Step 1 – Cut the pipe
PVC can be cut easily. You can cut it with a hacksaw, but abrasive discs designed for miter saws work better to get a straight edge. A skewed seal because the pipe is not cut straight can cause the pipe to break.
Step 2 – deburr and adjust
After cutting, clean all the chips from the pipe and deburr (smooth) the inside edges. When the pipe is cut to the proper length, place it on the floor with the fittings in place to determine if the length is correct.
Step 3 – Clean and cement
First, the hose should be cleaned with an all purpose pipe cleaner, called a primer. Dab the primer around the end of the pipe and inside the fitting to make sure there are no contaminants that could interfere with adhesion .
PVC is associated with a special type of cement. The cement sets up very quickly, so you must be ready to leave as soon as it is applied. Coat the inner surface of the joint with the cement, insert the PVC pipe and turn the pipe into the fitting for a full turn if you can, then flip it over to make sure the glue has covered the whole joint. Make sure the hose is properly positioned in the seal for proper adhesion.
Step 4 – Install the pipe clamps
Once the PVC pipe is in place and you have determined that its length is appropriate, install hanger brackets to support the pipe. This relieves the joints, which could lead to leaks. Follow the recommendations for the distances between the supports. It's usually every four feet. You want to allow movement and expansion and contraction of pipes during temperature changes. Be sure to protect the hose against nails, screws and other abrasive materials.
What is the life of a PVC pipe?
Because of its composition, PVC will last the life of the house in which it is installed. As it is antirust and chemical resistant, a nominal life of 100 years is typical.
Are PVC pipes recyclable?
Yes. The hose can be sprayed and returned to the extrusion process to make a new hose. There is currently no standard for this. Because of its long life, PVC has not been exposed to much recycling.
Is PVC resistant to UV light?
Because of its design, the PVC pipe contains stabilizers that protect it from UV rays in the light of the sun. Discoloration may occur over time. After several years of exposure, you may notice a slight reduction in the material's impact strength. When painting the exposed pipe with a latex paint (do not use oil), this problem will be virtually eliminated.
Are PVC pipes fireproof?
Like all plastics, PVC pipes melt if they are subjected to sufficiently high temperatures. However, it stops this process immediately when the fire source is removed. Studies show that PVC pipes in a typical installation represent less than 1% of all combustible materials in a building.
Mark Vander Sande, professional plumber, contributed to this article.