Polyethylene (PE) is a thermoplastic material produced from the polymerization of ethylene. PE plastic pipe is manufactured by extrusion in sizes ranging from ½" to 63". PE is available in rolled coils of various lengths or in straight lengths up to 40 feet. Generally small diameters are coiled and large diameters (>6" OD) are in straight lengths. PE pipe is available in many varieties of wall thicknesses, based on three distinct dimensioning systems:
- Pipe Size Based on Controlled Outside Diameter (DR)
- Iron Pipe Size Inside Diameter, IPS-ID (SIDR)
- Copper Tube Size Outside Diameter (CTS)
PE pipe is available in many forms and colors such as the following:
- Single extrusion colored or black pipe
- Black pipe with coextruded color striping
- Black or natural pipe with a coextruded colored layer
A significant benefit of plastic pipe is its small environmental impact compared to other materials. Learn more
PE pipe offers distinct advantages as a piping material:
- Light weight
- Chemical resistance
- Overall toughness
These benefits make it an ideal piping material for a broad variety of applications such as potable water service or distribution lines, natural gas distribution, lawn sprinklers, sewers, waste disposal, and drainage lines. PE materials are generally resistant to most ordinary chemicals.
Polyethylene can be used in low temperatures without risk of brittle failure. Thus, a major application for certain PE piping formulations is for low-temperature heat transfer applications such as radiant floor heating, snow melting, ice rinks, and geothermal ground source heat pump piping.
PE pipe is recognized as acceptable plumbing piping for water services, drainage, and sewer applications in most model plumbing codes. Verify acceptance and installation of PE piping systems with the local code enforcement authorities having jurisdiction.
PE pipe and fittings are available from plumbing supply houses and various hardware retailers throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. PE pipe is generally less expensive than metallic piping materials.
PE pipe must be labeled as follows:
- The manufacturer's name or trademark
- The standard to which it conforms
- Pipe size
- Material designation code (PE 2406 or PE 3408)
- DWV if for drainage piping
- Pressure rating if applicable
- DR number or Schedule number
- If the pipe is for potable water, a laboratory seal or mark attesting to suitability