ABS pipe and fittings are made from a thermoplastic resin called Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS for short).
ABS Piping Systems:
- Are easier and less expensive to install than metal piping
- Feature superior flow due to smooth interior finish
- Do not rot, rust, corrode or collect waste
- Withstand earth loads and shipping (with proper handling)
- Resist mechanical damage, even at low temperatures
- Perform at an operational temperature up to 140°F (60°C)
- Are lightweight (one person can load and unload)
- Take less time to rough in than metal DWV materials
ABS pipe and fittings were originally developed in the early 1950s for use in oil fields and the chemical industry. In 1959, John F. Long, a prominent Arizona builder, used ABS pipe in an experimental residence. Twenty-five years later, an independent research firm dug up and analyzed a section of the drain pipe. The result: no evidence of rot, rust or corrosion. ASTM standard for ABS-DWV pipe and fittings was originally approved in 1967.
For answers to specific questions, click on the relevant link below:
- Definition of ABS
- Definition of DWV
- Chemical Resistance
- Fire Resistance
- Where To Buy?
- Environmental Issues
Uses & Applications
ABS pipe and fittings have become a leading material for DWV applications because they offer an outstanding combination of properties. Contractors have installed more than 10 billion feet of ABS pipe in residential and commercial construction. ABS pressure pipe is also available for certain industrial applications. ABS pipe is sold in 10' and 20' lengths, plus 12' lengths in Canada.
ABS pipe is available in solid-wall and cellular-core construction in Schedule 40 dimensions. These two forms may be used interchangeably for DWV applications.
ABS pipe may be used in buried or above ground DWV applications. It may be used outdoors if the pipe contains pigments to shield against ultraviolet radiation, or jurisdictions may require the pipe to be painted with water-based latex paint for outdoor use. Check with the pipe supplier for details about local regulations for this material.
Specifying ABS pipe is a relatively easy task as the pipe wall of Schedule 40 ABS DWV pipe is the same thickness as Schedule 40 (IPS) steel pipe.
Architects, mechanical engineers and builders should incorporate ABS pipe and fittings into their specifications by a reference similar to the following: "All soil lines, waste lines, vents, and building drains shall be installed with ABS pipe and fittings conforming to Schedule 40 ASTM F628 or ASTM D2661. All products shall bear the seal of a nationally-recognized listing or certifying agency."
ABS is recognized as acceptable for use in DWV systems in all major model plumbing codes.
ABS is available from plumbing supply houses and retail home supply stores throughout most of North America.
The standards for plastic pipe generally require that the product be marked so that it can be readily identified, even if cut in short pieces. Most of the standards require at least the following items:
- The manufacturer's name or trademark
- The standard to which it conforms
- Pipe size
- Resin type
- DWV if for drainage
- SDR number or Schedule number
- If the pipe is for potable water, a laboratory seal or mark attesting to suitability for potable water
According to studies performed by the ABS Institute, ABS pipe was shown to be unaffected by commonly used household chemicals - including drain and bowl cleaners, such as:
- Tide detergent
- Soilax cleanser
- Borax cleaners
- Calgon water softener
- Ammonia 5% solution
- Renuzit spot remover
- Liquid Sani-flush
- Liquid Plumber
- Lysol bowl cleaner
- Vanish bowl cleaner
- Liquid Vanish bowl cleaner
- Sno-Bol bowl cleaner
When properly installed in compliance with building and fire codes, ABS can be used in fire-rated construction, such as high-rise dwellings. Schedule 40 ABS DWV systems are suitable for fire-rated wall, floor and ceiling assemblies.
ABS pipe must be heated to over 871°F (465°C) before it will self-ignite. In comparison, the types of wood commonly used in home framing self-ignite around 500F (260°C). In an out-of-control fire, temperatures reach well over 1,000F (540°C), at which point all combustibles burn.
ABS DWV pipe systems typically represent less than 1% of the total combustible products in wood-frame construction. In addition, ABS DWV piping systems are installed behind walls, under floors and above ceilings; therefore, ABS pipe will melt and collapse long before it burns, preventing flame spread up vertical stacks or along horizontal waste lines.
Like all combustible materials, ABS pipe releases gaseous products when burned. Although no nationally recognized standard exists for measuring toxicity, testing indicates that gases released from burning styrene-based plastics, such as ABS, present no greater hazard than gases released from common building materials, such as the wood used in wall construction.
Storage & Handling
You can store ABS pipe and fittings either inside or outside. Protect the material from direct sunlight as exposure to the sun can cause uneven expansion. Store ABS pipe on a level support to prevent sagging or bending.
- Measure pipe from bottom or shoulder of each socket into which pipe is to fit.
- Cut pipe to required length, making sure cut is square.
- Ream inside and chamfer outside of pipe to eliminate all burrs. Sand lightly.
- Clean all dirt, moisture, and grease from pipe and fitting socket using a clean, dry cloth.
- Check dry fit of pipe in fitting socket.
- Apply a light coat of ASTM D2235 compliant ABS solvent cement to the inside of the fitting socket and the outside of the pipe.
- Insert pipe into fitting socket, giving the pipe a one-quarter turn and making sure it goes all the way to the socket bottom.
- Hold the joint together until a tight set is attained.
- Check cement bead around joint; wipe excess cement from the pipe.
- Don't move the system until the joints have cured (set) at least as long as recommended by the solvent