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PVC Pipe for Plumbing

Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Craig Gibson


If you need to have part or all of your plumbing replaced or repaired, you might be interested to know what choices you have as far as the types of materials that are available for pipes.  One option which is becoming more commonplace is plastic pipes for plumbing. 

This is because they are cost effective and easier to work with than other types of piping like copper. Another advantage of plastic is that it does not react with concrete or other building materials like metal pipes can.  

Let’s take a look at find out more about this type of plumbing.

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Here’s some more information.

About Plastic Pipes in Plumbing

Plastic pipes used in plumbing are available in a range of standard sizes depending on where they are to be used.  Generally, it is white in colour.  Plastic pipes are best suited for cold water though some kinds can be used for hot and cold water alike.

Plastic pipes are becoming more common in plumbing.  This is because they are cost effective and often cheaper than other types of plumbing such as copper.  Plastic pipes are also extremely easy to work with making them a popular choice for many plumbers as well as DIYers.  Another advantage of plastic is that it does not react with concrete or other building materials like metal pipes can.  The pipes are glued, taped or screwed together or a combination of all three.

Be aware that plastic pipes can be loud and they are sensitive to temperature changes, so it is best to have them insulated.  Insulation will increase their performance.

Types of Plastic Pipes Used in Plumbing

Domestic plumbing uses several different kinds of plastic pipes.  Rigid PVC is used for cold water and waste systems. Flexible polyethylene can be used for cold water. Flexible polybutylene (PB) is used for both hot and cold water. Chlorinated PVC or CPVC is more flexible than standard PVC pipes and can be used for both hot and cold water.  ABS pipes are black, rigid and non pressurised and it is commonly used for draining showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and washing machines but it is also used to vent drain and waste pipes.  High strength plastic pipes can be used for mains water as it is both lightweight and resistant to corroding when underground.

Plastic pipes are generally glued together, and this is called solvent welding. However, they can also be joined using threaded, push fit or speed fit fixings.  Compression fittings are used when the plastic pipes meets metal pipes or fixtures.

There are a variety of plastics used in the building and construction sector, but here are also other plastic based pipes used. These include:

PVC - or polyvinyl chloride - is one of the most common type of plastics, and is often installed in basins, sinks, toilets and drainage systems. Domestic plumbing uses several different kinds of plastic pipes.  Rigid PVC is used for cold water and waste systems. Flexible polyethylene can be used for cold water, and flexible polybutylene (PB) is used for both hot and cold water.

PVC

 

CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) is used for hot and cold water installations, and garden sprinkler systems. Chlorinated PVC or CPVC is more flexible than standard PVC pipes.

CPVC

PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) or PB (polybutylene) are both used for cold and hot water installations where the piping is not exposed to sunlight.


ABS pipes are black, rigid and non pressurised and it is commonly used for draining showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and washing machines but it is also used to vent drain and waste pipes.  High strength plastic pipes can be used for mains water as it is both lightweight and resistant to corroding when underground.

ABS Pipes

Working with PVC piping

 

PVC pipes are available in a range of standard sizes depending on where they will be installed.  

PVC pipe sizes in Australia and New Zealand are mostly in nominal diameter (ND) values, anywhere from 32 to 300 - depending on the fitting required.

You do need to check if they are suitable for hot water, and they are also rated to various pressure limitations. Be aware that plastic pipes can be loud and they are sensitive to temperature changes, so it is best to have them insulated.  Insulation will increase their performance. In terms of connections, PVC piping is typically glued, taped or screwed together or a combination of all three. When they are glued together this is called solvent welding. However, they can also be joined using threaded, push fit or speedfit fittings.  Compression fittings are used when the plastic pipes meets metal pipes or fixtures.

PVC

 

Advantages of PVC pipe

 

PVC piping is popular for a good reason - it performs better than other materials under a wide variety of scenarios. Plumbers have come to trust PVC for its:

  • Toughness and flexibility

  • Resistance to corrosion

  • Resistance to chemical and biological fouling

  • Hydraulic capacity

  • Ease of handling and installation

Instalation

Hiring a plumber

Like any tradie you need to be sure your plumber is right for your job. Screening them beforehand will save you a lot of heartache and stress down the track. Questions to ask them include:
 

  • Are you licensed for my job?

  • Are you fully insured to work in my home?

  • Do have experience doing my job?

  • Can you provide a written quote?

  • Do have references I can follow up?

  • When can you start my job?

 

There’s a reason why it’s illegal to take care of your own plumbing: it’s incredibly unsafe. Tinkering with the pipes yourself can not only damage your property, it also puts your whole family and home at risk. That’s why it’s imperative to find a licensed, qualified plumber who is equipped and experienced to manage your plumbing needs.

A reputable plumber can advise on the type of pipe that's most suitable for your home.

 

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