For specific information about the different plastic piping products for plumbing applications, click on the links below:
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride)
PEX (Cross-linked Polyethylene)
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
Solvent Cements & Primers
TIPS (Thermoplastic Industrial Piping Systems)
The primary benefits associated with all of these plastic piping products are the following:
Substainability (Green Building)
A significant benefit of plastic pipe is its small environmental impact compared to other materials. Learn more
Plastics are not conductive and are therefore immune to galvanic or electrolytic erosion. Because plastics are corrosion resistant, plastic pipe can be buried in acidic, alkaline, wet or dry soils and protective coatings are not required.
The variety of materials available allows a wide range of chemical solutions to be handled successfully by plastic piping.
Low Thermal Conductivity
All plastic piping materials have low thermal conductance properties. This feature maintains more uniform temperatures when transporting fluids in plastic than in metal piping. Low thermal conductivity of the wall of plastic piping may eliminate or reduce greatly the need for pipe insulation to control sweating.
In general, thermoplastic piping is relatively flexible as compared to metal piping. This facilitates use of efficient installation techniques. Some of the more flexible materials allow for coiling, which permits long pipe runs with a minimum number of joints. The more rigid materials are typically made into 10' or 20' pipe lengths. Pipe size is also a factor in coiling and bending both rigid and flexible materials.
Water mains and sewers made of plastic piping can be deflected to match the curve alignment of streets and rights-of-way.
Low Friction Loss
Because the interior surface of plastic piping is generally very smooth, less power may be required to transmit fluids in plastic piping compared with other piping systems. Furthermore, the excellent corrosion resistance of plastics means that the low friction loss characteristic will not change over time.
Long Term Performance
Owing to the relative chemical inertness and the minimal effects of internal and external corrosion, there is very little change in the physical characteristics of plastic piping over dozens of years. Examinations of pipe samples taken from some systems have shown no measurable degradation after 25 years of service.
Most plastic piping systems are on the order of one-sixth the weight of steel piping. This feature means lower costs in many ways: lower freight charges, less manpower, simpler hoisting and rigging equipment, etc. This characteristic has allowed some unique cost-saving installation procedures in several applications.
Variety Of Joining Methods
Plastic piping can be joined by numerous methods. For each material there are several appropriate methods. Some of the most common are solvent cementing, heat fusion, threaded joints, flanges, O-rings, rolled grooves, and mechanical compression joints. This variety of joining methods allows plastic piping to be adapted easily to most field conditions.
Plastic piping systems have been approved for potable water applications. As evidence of this all plastic potable water piping materials and products are tested and listed for compliance to ANSI/NSF Standards 14 and 61.
All ASTM and AWWA standards for plastic pressure piping that could be used for potable water contain a provision whereby the regulatory authority or user can require product that has been tested and found to be in conformance with ANSI/NSF Standard 61 - Drinking Water System Components - Health Effects. When plastic pipe or fittings are ANSI/NSF Standard 14 listed, and have the NSF pw (potable water) mark they also meet the ANSI/NSF Standard 61 requirements.
The NSF-pw mark certifies to installers, users, and regulators that the product meets the requirements of ANSI/NSF Std 14 for performance and the ANSI/NSF STD 61 for health effects.
To date, there are no documented reports on any fungi, bacteria, or termite attacks on any plastic piping system. In fact, because of its inertness, plastic piping is the preferred material in deionized and other high-purity water applications.
Plastic piping materials provide excellent service in handling slurries such as fly ash, bottom ash, and other abrasive solutions. The material toughness and the smooth inner-bore of plastic piping make it ideal for applications where abrasion-resistance is needed.
Plastic piping is available in a variety of colors for ease of identification. The following are generally used colors for different applications:
- Gas Distribution (Formerly bright orange or tan; now yellow or black with yellow stripes)
- Water Distribution (Black, light blue, white, clear, or gray)
- Sewers (Green, white, black, or gray)
- DWV (Black, white, tan, or gray)
- Hot and Cold Water distribution (Tan, red, white, blue, silver, or clear)
- Cable Duct (Variety of colors)
- Fire Sprinklers (Orange)
- Industrial Process (Dark gray/PVC, light gray/CPVC)
- Reclaimed Water (Purple or brown local jurisdiction may set requirements)
A properly designed and installed plastic piping system requires very little maintenance because there is no rust, pitting, or scaling to contend with. The interior and exterior piping surfaces are not subject to galvanic corrosion or electrolysis. In buried applications, the plastic piping is not generally affected by chemically aggressive soil. However, installation in soils contaminated with hydrocarbons (gas, oil, etc.) should be avoided.