Plastic water pipes for plumbing have gained massive popularity in recent times due to the vast advantages they offer over other types of pipes.
They come in different types such as PVC, PEX, PB, and PE pipes among others each having distinct features from the other.
Types of Plastic Pipe for Water Supply
There are different types of plastic water pipes manufactured to serve various plumbing purposes. Additionally, the types of plastic plumbing pipes differ in terms of factors such as purpose, cost, installation ability, and durability. Below are some of the common types of plastic pipes for water supply.
1. CPVC Pipe
Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes are commonly referred to as CPVC pipes. This type of pipe differs from other types in the sense that their manufacturing entails the chlorination process.
Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipes have the following features: Chemical resistance, good heat distortion temperature, low installation, and manufacturing costs as well as excellent mechanical properties.
They have numerous advantages such as;
- Cheap to maintain
- Are resistant to corrosion
- Excellent mechanical strength
- Easy to install
- Affected by high temperatures
- Their thermal expansion coefficiency is relatively high and thus affected by adverse weather conditions
- Hot and cold water plumbing systems
- Buildings i.e. commercial and residential buildings
- Water heaters
2. PEX Pipe
PEX pipes are also referred to as cross-linked polyethylene pipes. As opposed to other types of plastic pipes for water supply, PEX pipes are the most widespread and popular due to their flexibility and costs.
Features of PEX Pipes
PEX pipes have various features that make them perform various plumbing functions effectively. These include flexibility, less noise transmission, freeze, and corrosion resistance.
- Durability-They have a long lifespan.
- Resistant to freeze- They can retain their mechanical property even when exposed to freezing conditions.
- Flexibility can easily bend to assume different shapes thus aiding in reducing the number of joints.
- Cost-effective- They are cheap to acquire as well as maintain.
- Easy to install- Their installation is simple hence can be done by anyone without complex plumbing skills.
- Affected by Ultraviolet rays.
- Risk of damage by rodents.
- Affected by chlorine damage.
PEX pipes for water supply have numerous applications in various areas. These include; the making of electric cables, the pharmaceutical industry, floor heaters, mining, and residential as well as commercial plumbing.
3. PVC Pipe
Polyvinyl Chloride pipes are synthetic polymers. They are manufactured through the chlorination process in conjunction with other processes such as the addition of additives.
Besides, they are similarly well-known types of plastic plumbing pipes used in various plumbing functions around the globe.
They possess the following features;
- Smooth surface
- Light in weight
- Inert to chemicals
- Easy to install
- Heat and corrosion resistance
Are brittle, poor heat stability, susceptible to properties changes, sensitive to UV as well as chemicals.
PVC pipes have a variety of applications such as;
- Sewerage systems
- Drainage systems
- Irrigation purposes
- Clean water supply
4. ABS Pipes
Acrylic Butadiene Styrene pipes are commonly abbreviated and referred to as ABS pipes. They have been used since mid-20th century and they have qualities such as corrosion and chemical resistance.
Chemical strength, toughness, heat resistance, and chemical resistance.
Cheap, freeze-resistant, easy to install, tough and rigid as well as durable.
Affected by direct sunlight, is not eco-friendly as a result of Bisphenol A (BPA) which is harmful to human beings as well as can only be applied for outdoor plumbing purposes.
- Drainage systems.
- Sewerage systems.
5. HDPE Pipes
High-density polyethylene pipes (HDPE) are special types of plastic pipes that are designed to withstand the high pressure of both liquids and gases.
Have lightweight, smooth inner surface, eco-friendly, durable, corrosion resistant, flexible as well as heat resistant.
Low initial and maintenance costs, long lifespans, resistance to corrosion, flexibility, versatility, ease of installation, and chemical resistance.
Have high thermal expansion, are highly flammable, are not environmentally friendly since they are non-biodegradable, are poorly weathered as well, and are affected by acids e.g. oxidizing acids.
Irrigation systems, drainage systems, mains of water, sewerage mains, gas as well as fire mains.
6. PE Pipes
Polyethylene pipes denoted as PE water pipes are specifically designed water supply pipes that supply water under high pressure. These types of plumbing pipes are manufactured through a process referred to as extrusion whereby polyethylene is the primary raw material.
Resistant to stress cracks, have good MRS (Minimum Required Strength), good tensile strength, excellent thermal expansion, and are durable.
- Are corrosion resistant
- Can operate in a wide range of temperatures without deformation i.e. between -70 and +70 degrees.
- Are flexible
- Are durable
Affected by ketones, acids e.g. oxidizing acids, and UV rays from sunlight.
- Water supply
- Sewage systems
- Irrigation systems
- Industrial purposes
7. PB Pipes
Polybutylene plastic plumbing pipes (PB) are majorly applied in residential plumbing purposes such as in clean water supply.
They are resilient, and eco-friendly since they are odourless and thus applicable in clean water supply, are resistant to creep, flexible, as well as good mechanical properties.
- Freeze resistance
- Leak prone
- Less durable
- Maintenance difficulties
- Residential and commercial plumbing
- Radiant heating
- Irrigation systems
8. PP Pipe
Polypropene plumbing pipes come in different types such as PP-RCT and PP-R. These types of water supply pipes are versatile in that they can be applied in different types of applications. These may include commercial, industrial, and residential plumbing among others.
Wide temperature range, durable, light in weight, versatile, and good thermal expansion.
- Chemical resistance
- Leak resistance
- Resistant to corrosion
- Ease of installation
- Are costly
- Are brittle hence easy to break
- Are relatively difficult to work with
- Affected UV rays
- Industrial systems
- Water treatment
- Food and beverage
9. PVDF Pipes
Polyvinylidene fluoride pipes are special types of water supply pipes that have high melting and boiling points. They are widely spread due to their ability to resist UV rays.
- Are resistant to acids
- Are crystalline
- Good thermal stability
- Good chemical resistance
- Resistant to high temperatures
- Good chemical strength
- Can withstand a wide range of temperatures
- Resistant to chemicals
- Affected by extremely low temperatures
- Are sensitive to UV rays
- Are relatively more expensive than other water supply pipes
- Difficult to install
- Water treatment
- Chemical industries
- Food and beverage industries
Structures for Different Types of Plastic Water Pipe
There are various types of plastic water pipe structures. Some of these structures include but are not limited to;
Solid Wall Pipe Structure
These are special types of plumbing pipes that are made up of thermoplastic elements. They are also made perforated to serve their intended purposes of underground drainage.
Hydraulic advantages i.e. can be applied in acidic environments, high tensile strength, quality control as well as durability.
As under-drains in roads, residential plumbing, and sanitary sewers.
Structured Wall Pipe
Entails plastic water pipes that have been customized according to the customer’s specific needs and preferences. As such, these need include, mechanical properties, performances as well as physical properties specifically required for various plumbing reasons.
Barrier pipes on the other hand consist of thermoplastic pipes made up of three distinct layers whereby each layer serves a significant function. For instance, the aspect of coating barrier pipes with three different materials may aid in ensuring safety and protection.
This is because barrier pipes transport harmful and corrosive elements that might cause harm to human beings as well as environmental degradation when they leak.
Quality Standards for Plastic Water Pipes
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM’s) Plastic Pipe Standards
These standards are significant in establishing mechanical properties and physical properties. Of course, it also includes the underlying requirements for the installation of various types of plastic water supply pipes.
ASTM’s standards that are commonly associated with plastic water supply pipes include; ASTM D3034, ASTMD 2241, and ASTMD1598 among others.
National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)
It basically checks on the general safety of human beings to ensure that aspects such as food are not contaminated.
As such, the NSF therefore counter-checks if the laid down health measures have been adhered to by manufacturers.
European Norm (EN)
European Norm standards usually denoted as EN are equally significant in ensuring that the set health and safety standards have been adhered to the latter.
Various standard numbers related to EN include but are not limited to; EN 13244, EN 12201, EN 806, and EN1452 among others.
CSA Standards for Water Pipe
Also referred to as Canadian Standards Association. They ensure the pipes are made according to the set rules and regulations by the state and that it conforms to the required standards.
AWWA Standards for Water Pipes
These standards are majorly applied in the water industry. They stipulate the requirements for aspects such as product manufacturing, design, performance as well and installation requirements for water pipes.
How to Choose the Best Types of Plastic Pipes for Water Supply
It is important to consider your financial capabilities before deciding on the best type of plastic pipe that you want for your water supply. In this instance, one should go for plastic water supply pipes that are cost-effective.
The minimum time in which a particular plastic pipe will be able to serve should also be taken into consideration. Plastic water supply pipes with long lifespans should therefore be considered.
Various types of plastic water supply pipes have various features that make them execute their functions effectively. For instance, some features make them suitable for high-pressure applications and vice versa. One should therefore consider the aspect of water pressure before purchasing a particular plumbing pipe.
Plastic water pipes that are resistant to corrosion should be considered over those that are corrosion-prone.
Plastic plumbing pipes that are easily installable should be prioritized over those that are difficult to install.
In a nutshell, plastic pipes for water supply come in different types depending on the type of material, function, costs as well as manufacturers. For example, PP pipes differ from PVC water pipes in various ways.
Additionally, these types of plastic water supply pipes are guided by quality standards such as AWWA, NSF, and CSA to ensure that they meet the required standards before they are allowed to consumers.