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There was a time when the only materials used for residential plumbing were ceramic, concrete and metal. Today, pipes come from a wide variety of materials such as polyethylene (PE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), copper, galvanised steel and iron. Given all the available materials and system designs on the market, it takes a knowledgeable plumber to choose the right pipe for the job. Two frequently used materials for plumbing applications are PVC and PE. PVC is mostly used in residential homes, while PE is a popular choice in residential and small business applications. A look into these materials will give a better understanding of their benefits and which applications they suit best.

PVC Pipes

Poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) is a durable material, with a potential service life of 100 years. PVC pipes used in a wide variety of applications, as pressure or drainage pipe. The first PVC piping systems installed 80 years ago, are mostly still used today. This is because PVC is resistant to chemical corrosion, weathering, abrasion and shock, and does not rust or corrode like metal. This durability, combined with low maintenance costs and less leakages, is what makes it cost-effective. PVC also has environmental advantages. Because it is a low carbon plastic, the material requires less energy and fewer resources to produce. It also requires less energy to transport as it is lighter than many of its alternatives. PVC is easily recycled several times without losing its chemical properties. The main drawback to PVC pipes is they are unsuitable for hot water applications. High water temperatures can warp the material when installed in sinks, bathtubs and washing machines. It also degrades if left exposed to UV light over time, making an unsuitable material for above ground outdoor applications.

PE Pipes

Polyethylene (PE) pipe installations are an attractive pipeline option due to a diverse range of possible applications in the industrial, mining, marine, mechanical and agricultural industries. The high durability and flexibility give PE pipes a lifespan of over 100 years and often they outlast the lifetime of the operation. Compared with all other pipe materials used for urban gas distribution, PE pipes have the lowest repair frequency per kilometre of pipe a year. They are also non-corrosive and chemical resistant. Because of a wide range of thicknesses and pressure ratings, polyethylene pipe fittings, pipes and equipment are able to create an entirely flexible system. The pipes can be used to carry a variety of fluids, including pipes for wastewater, pipes for potable water, pipes for slurries, pipes for mining processes, pipes for hazardous wastes, pipes for chemicals, pipes for gas and pipes for compressed air. PE pipes are unique in that they can be fusion joined, providing a homogenous joint that is stronger than the original pipe. This is a major advantage over PVC piping, because PVC joins are not very strong compared to PE and might blow out or bend on corners if there is not enough weight to hold the pipeline back. When heat fusion welded, PE joints are fully end-load resistant, removing the need for any concrete thrust blocks, and saving both material and labour costs. This also allows safe future excavation in the vicinity of the pipeline. Consideration of material options during design leads to improved efficiency when the piping system becomes operational. Identifying common plumbing problems associated with the material selected ensures that safety and comfort are not compromised and comply with government regulations. The life cycle cost of Acu-Tech’s HDPE pipe differs from other pipe materials because the “allowable water leakage” is zero, rather than typical leakage rates of 10 to 20% for PVC and Ductile Iron. PE pipe’s fused joints simply do not leak, eliminating infiltration and ex-filtration problems experienced with alternate pipe joints.

About Acu-Tech

Acu-Tech Piping Systems is a leading manufacturer and supplier of pipe systems and solutions for gas and fluid transfer, and cable protection. Their experience as a poly pipe manufacturer has given them the confidence to provide high-quality polyethylene pipe systems. With fast turn-around times and state-of-the-art facilities, Acu-Tech’s success lies in their commitment to providing high quality products and excellent customer care. For your pipeline solutions, Acu-Tech manufactures HDPE pipes and fittings, and imports and stocks a broad range of PE products from international pipe fitting manufacturers. Learn more about us by visiting our website at   Disclaimer: As always with information supplied by Acu-Tech Piping Systems, we supply it as a guide in the interest of better understanding of the technical properties of our products. However, the application of such information may involve engineering judgements which cannot be correctly made without intimate knowledge of all the conditions pertaining to a specific installation. Acu-Tech Piping Systems does not act as a consultant in this regard; the responsibility for the use of any information or advice contained herein rests solely with the user. It should not be used in place of a professional engineer’s judgment or advice and is not intended as installation instructions. See full disclaimer at: