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Why You Should Rethink Using PVC for Your Pipes

PVC is a very lightweight, quite inexpensive, and almost always readily available at local construction supply stores. It is for these reasons that this material is often chosen for piping material for compressed air systems.


However, what not many people know is that there are actually risks in using it. In fact, there are some areas when using it may not even be code-compliant. For one, the usual adhesives that are used in installing it are not always compatible with different types of compressor oils. One more thing – PVC is prone to bursting!


It can also be a channel for static charges, meaning it can cause electrical shock or worse fire in some environments where there is a presence of combustible vapours or dust. Unfortunately, even with these safety concerns, a lot of big plants and small shops still use PVC for their pipes.


Okay, let’s enumerate the reasons why we don’t think PVC is meant for air compressor usage:

  1. PVC pipes and fittings can only stand up to 140F and even at just 110F, you already lessen the pressure rating in half, meaning if you have a pipe that is rated for 150psi, it is now good for just 75psi. Now, most small piston compressors have air about 200F or higher coming out. Can you imagine how a PVC pipe can handle that? Neither can we.
  2. A cracked PVC pipe that fails at merely 100psi can injure or even fatally hurt you or your employees.
  3. PVC can easily become brittle when exposed to oil vapour that is found in the UV light and the compressed air itself.
  4. Improper installation can lead to a sudden release of great amounts of stored energy. This can easily cause the shattering of pipes. Even stress can cause internal surface cracks and like we mentioned above, there are certain additives in some system lubricants that can cause this internal stress.


So you see, even if PVC may seem cheap and relatively easy to install now, it can and probably will turn into something very expensive and deadly in the future. Nobody wants that, right? So before you get tempted to purchase those PVC pipes for your compressed air system, think again. It is undeniably better to invest in a piping material that is more suitable for such applications. We cannot stress enough how important this is. So when it comes to your air compressor pipes, please choose wisely!

PVC pipes stacked in warehouse.

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