Polyvinyl Chloride Piping & What You Should Know About the Pipes in Your Home 

Gray PVC tubes plastic pipes stacked in rows

Polyvinyl Chloride — most commonly known as PVC — is everywhere. We may not realize just how prevalent this material is in applications and products that we come in contact with every day. This material is one of the most widely used polymers in the world, and it is frequently used across a wide range of applications. In the plumbing world, PVC is a lifesaver and a material we work with constantly. 

So when does the story of polyvinyl chloride begin? 

Let’s look at the story of this amazing plastic. 

Polyvinyl Chloride and Its Humble Beginnings 

An electrician deals with wiring and electricity. A plumber deals with pipes and water (sometimes wastewater). Piping is our bread and butter. The first polyvinyl-related patent was given in 1913 to a German inventor. This milestone gave way to the commercial production of what we now know as PVC.  In 1949, the initial use of piping happened in North America. Up to about 20% of all manufactured plastic is polyvinyl chloride. 

PVC is composed of several raw materials derived from salt and oil. 

The steps for the production of PVC include:

  • Extraction of salt from hydrocarbon resources
  • The production of ethylene and chlorine
  • Combining ethylene and chlorine to create the monomer
  • Polymerization that makes the polyvinyl chloride
  • Blending the polyvinyl chloride with other necessary materials to finalize the formulation

Because it is manufactured from two different starting materials, PVC is one of the least environmentally destructive plastics to produce. It uses less non-renewable fossil fuels in its production than other plastics. About 57% of PVC’s molecular weight is derived from salt and 43% comes from hydrocarbon feedstocks.  

The Characteristics of PVC Material 

The form of PVC commonly used in plumbing applications is a more rigid version of the material. This material works so well because it resists the pressures needed in plumbing and it is strong to resist wear and tear. Other characteristics of the material include: 

  • A high density: Compared to other plastics, PVC can be quite dense. 
  • Accessibility: This material is accessible and relatively inexpensive. 
  • Strength: The rigid version of PVC is known for its tensile strength
  • Hardness: The material is also hard and durable

The production of this plastic material is highly regularized and standardized by the government. Despite these regulations, some people wonder about the toxicity levels of PVC, but it can still be used for potable water. 

The Use of PVC in Plumbing Applications

The plumbing world uses PVC for a lot of applications. The material’s characteristics and durability make it appropriate for use with water applications and some pressurized water. One of the first uses of PVC was for its use for handling water and it quickly became one of the go-to materials in the plumbing world. 

Type of Plumbing Pipes in Your Home

So in addition to PVC piping, a home uses different piping materials for use in different applications. Here are the most common. 

PVC: As we discussed already, PVC is popular in residential plumbing. A home’s sewage system will typically be made of PVC pipe. Most of the piping is used in low-pressure settings. It is ideal for a toilet drain line but not used for carrying hot water. 

PEX: Polyethylene cross-linked pipe is a relatively inexpensive plastic tubing that is used for water supply lines. The material is popular because it can be used with different connection methods. PEX fixtures can be attached directly to hot or cold faucets. 

ABS Pipes: These pipes are easy to spot, as they are usually black and connect to a sink, tub, or toilet drain. It works similarly to PVC piping. This type of piping is not used that much in modern homes, but it is a very strong pipe that works well underground and in cold temperatures. 

Copper Pipes: The use of copper for pipes has been around for decades and continues to be a popular choice for specific applications. This metal material is commonly used for water supply lines as well because it does not impact the quality of the water. The installation of copper piping, however, might require the work of a professional. Copper pipes will handle heat and high pressures and can be recyclable as the copper remains valuable. 

Galvanized: This type of piping might still be found in older homes, as it is no longer the preferred material in new construction. Galvanized piping used to be a popular choice because it was accessible. This type of piping was used for drainage, gas supply, water supply, and other functions. 

Get the Right Plumbing Supplies for Your Home or Business 

Are you dealing with some plumbing issues? Regardless of the source of the problem, understanding your plumbing and materials will go a long way. Whether the problem is one you fix yourself or call a professional for, the right plumbing supplies and fittings are essential for a job well done. 

Looking for a reliable plumbing supply store? Call C&L Plumbing. Whatever you need, we have it in stock. 

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