PVC Pipe and Fittings

> Overview.  Pipes and fittings comprise the largest portion (44 percent) of PVC usage for building and construction.  PVC has become the leading material for large diameter buried pipelines installed by both water and wastewater utilities as well as for smaller diameter drain waste and vent (DWV) piping.  CPVC pipes are used for indoor water plumbing pipe.  On a lineal basis, PVC has become the leading pipe material in the United States today, accounting for more than 70% of all water and sewer pipe now being installed. Alternative metal pipe materials (iron, steel, copper) are vulnerable to corrosion and premature failure. Concrete and clay pipe materials are prone to cracking or fracturing which results in leakage or contamination.  PVC is certified for contact with drinking water by NSF International and offers complete immunity to electrochemical corrosion.  PVC’s flexibility enables it to resist cracking and leakage.

> Energy efficiency and reduced CO² emissions.  PVC pipe manufacturing is energy efficient, consuming fewer BTUs than alternative materials for equal lengths of pipe.  A Franklin Associates study has indicated that the manufacture of pressure piping used in the building, construction and transportation industries required 56,497 trillion fewer BTUs than iron and concrete/aggregate alternatives would require if they were substituted for all PVC pipe.  PVC pipe and fittings also weigh less than alternative piping materials allowing for significant energy savings in their transportation.  Furthermore, their lighter weight enables them to be installed more easily and efficiently than the above-mentioned alternatives. 

> Resource conservation.  PVC pipe durability results in resource conservation.  When properly designed and installed, PVC pipe has an estimated life span well beyond 100 years, with little or no loss of strength.  The National Research Council of Canada found that the “break rate” for vinyl water distribution pipe was 0.5 breaks per 100 km (62 miles) per year as compared with 32.6 breaks per 100 km per year for cast iron and 7.9 breaks per 100 km per year for ductile iron.¹  Lower break rates minimize the risk of contamination and provide major savings in time and resources.  Pipe breaks and water loss are major problems for water utilities with corroding metal pipes.  According to the American Water Works Association approximately 15% of treated water is lost due to line breaks and leaks.  That is 2.5 trillion gallons of water every year.  And, a recent Federally funded study estimates that the corrosion of water and sewer pipes costs the US economy $36 billion annually.

> Certification.  All PVC drinking water pipes are certified under NSF International’s Standard 61, to assure the preservation of drinking water quality standards established by US EPA.

¹ B. Rajani and S. McDonald, “Water Main Break Data on Different Pipe Materials for 1992 and 1993,” National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario, 1995.