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Types Of Plastic Pipes And Their Uses

Sep 8, 2008
With the high price of plumbers it is understandable that so many people are now deciding that the do it yourself route is a far more affordable option. Plastic pipe is the perfect material for the job as even the lay man can manage to put together a piping system. Naturally plastic pipe is an umbrella term that covers a number of different plastics, usually of the thermo variety but still disparate enough to note the differences. Here are some of the most popular plastic pipe variants used.

PVC or polyvinyl chloride is an extremely popular plastic in the piping world; it is extremely rigid and is adept at resisting many chemicals. The main form of welding is though solvents and is predominantly used for applications such as sewers, drain pipes and cold water pressurised water piping. It comes in a variety of different colours.

ABS or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is used for many of the same purposes as PVC although its chemical resistance is lower and it is normally produced with a black colouration.

CPVC or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride is like PVC but stands up to high temperatures more effectively and hence is used for hot and cold water supply applications.

The previous three plastic pipe variants are all rigid whereas PB (polybutylene) and PE (polyethylene) are flexible; the former being rigid and used for the same purposes as CPVC and the latter being low cost. Both of these types are not joined with solvents but are instead formed with mechanical and clamped couplings.

In terms of buying the pipe for your plumbing needs pipes normally come in sizes along two lines, these being pipe sizes and tubing sizes. Pipe sizes relate to the old steel pipes while tube sizes relate to copper tube. It is important to note that different plastic pipes should not be connected together, like for like connections are always advisable. Because the plastic pipe industry moves quickly it is important to recognise that building regulations should always be consulted before undertaking any work.

For instance regulations permit the use of CPVC and PB pipe for hot water applications. These two pipes are perfect for constructing in-home hot water systems as they are corrosion free and durable. It should be remembered however that this form of pipe should not be used for electrical grounding as it is non-conductive. PVC pressure pipes should predominantly be used for cold water movement in outdoor areas; such as water sprinkling systems in gardens. PE pipe is similar although it is flexible rather than rigid, and is perfectly suited to deep piping well purposes.

There are two major methods of fitting piping systems together; these are solvent welding and mechanical coupling. Solvent welding is simple enough although care should be taken to carry out the task effectively to prevent any leaks. The pipe must be cut squarely, cleaned thoroughly, coated with solvent and then joined with the fitting piece. It should be remembered however that cuts are final, there is no way back should you cut the pipe too short. Mechanical coupling however is used with plastic pipes that cannot be welded with solvents. Normally it requires a simple click into place as the fittings have barbs and clamps that prevent leaking.

Hopefully this information has given an idea on the types of plastic pipe out their and their uses. Additionally it is also hoped that the information on fitting will give DIY enthusiasts the knowledge that is needed to construct their own plumbing systems.
About the Author
Home improvement expert Thomas Pretty looks at plastic pipe varieties and their uses for DIY enthusiasts.
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