The use of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is an important aspect of contemporary plumbing. PVC water pipes are simple to install and are available in various lengths and diameters. Therefore, they are ideal for both new facilities and upgrading old ones. Despite these pros, some studies report that they are not ideal for transporting water.
Advantages of PVC
- Tough & durable
- Available in various diameter, pressure, and length options
- Marketed with standard valves, couplings, and other fittings
- Resistant to corrosion, biofilm formation, and bacteria
PVC pipes are not conductors of electricity and are not affected by hard or soft water. In addition, they can be bent without breaking and can endure excessive pressure. They are resistant to problematic soil conditions and do not require internal protective layer as required by metallic pipes. For these reasons, PVC pipes are being increasingly used as buried water pipelines across the United States. As PVC pipes have a smooth surface, water flows smoothly through them. In fact, the flow is smoother compared with the flow in metal or cement pipes. Therefore, pumping costs are reduced.
Despite these advantages, there is growing concern about the environmental hazards posed by PVC. Reports suggest the use of alternative material, such as, HDPE, Ductile Iron (DI), and PEX. In terms of leak resistance, HDPE is better than PVC because it can be used in longer lengths and, therefore, joints cab be minimized. In addition, the joints in HDPE are more leak resistant than those in PVC. HDPE is also more resilient Therefore, it is increasingly being used in earthquake prone areas. It is also less likely to be damaged by digging operations.
PEX is as chemical resistant and flexible as HDPE, but is also more resistant to higher temperatures. Unlike PVC, DI is not affected by groundwater contamination. It can also withstand greater pressure and hammer.
In contrast to this report, an article states that although PVC is permissible as the main water pipeline from the street to a house, any PVC pipes in the house indicate that the plumbing has been done by the owner. Therefore, says the writer, such homes should not be bought.
To sum up, the debate on the advantages and the disadvantages of PVC water pipes continues to rage both in public and private settings. Further research is necessary to find alternative mediums that are both more economical and environment friendly.