Plastic piping has been used for over 60 years in a wide variety of applications. It is significantly easier to work with than traditional metal piping and can be used almost anywhere metal is and some places it cannot. There are two types of plastic piping, PVC and HDPE. If you are getting ready to begin a project that involves plumbing it may benefit you to understand the differences between the two.
PVC is a rigid plastic pipe. This makes it strong but also somewhat brittle. It can be manufactured in long lengths and large diameter making it ideal for buried piping. It can withstand large temperature extremes, all the way down to -40 degrees Celsius.
As compared to metal piping, PVC is much more resistant to the elements. It will also never run slow of become clogged because of corrosion, scale or rust build up. However it can be easily scratched if items other than fluids run through it. These scratches can catch debris as it flows past leading to a clog over time.
HDPE is just as strong as PVC but without the rigidity. This flexibility means that this type of piping cam be used in many different schemes and it can be used in areas with heavy vibrations without fear of it springing leaks. It can be used in warm environments but it does not stand up to temperatures below zero.
Like PVC, this piping will never rust or clog due to corrosion. However, it is more resistant to scratching. The inside of these pipes will remain smooth for many years after installation which means many years of care free flow.
Perhaps the most significant difference between these two types of plastic pipes is in their effects on the environment. PVC piping uses both chlorine and dioxin in its manufacture. Both of these have been show to be carcinogenic. HDPE piping contains neither of these, nor any other chemical that has been show to cause cancer and so is considered more environmentally friendly.
If you are in the planning stages of a plumbing project it would be wise for you to take a bit of time looking into both PVC and HDPE piping. Once you are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each you will be able to make an informed decision as to which will best fit your needs. Making the correct choice from the outset will save you time, energy and money.