Virtually all residential plumbing pipes were once made out of metal. Today, however, homeowners have a much wider array of choices. In recent decades, more and more people have chosen to install plastic plumbing pipes in their home. Pipes made out of PVC, in particular, have becoming an increasingly popular choice for cold water lines.
Unfortunately, many homeowners still aren’t aware of the benefits offered by PVC plumbing pipes. Whether you are designing a whole new home, or simply updating an aging plumbing system, if you find yourself in need of new pipes, keep reading. This article takes a closer look at two key benefits offered by PVC plumbing pipes, as compared to stainless steel and copper.
1. Resistant to Corrosion
Many people mistakenly believe that both stainless steel and copper pipes possess thorough corrosion resistance. Unfortunately, both of these metals may corrode under certain circumstances. Stainless steel, for instance, remains vulnerable to certain chemicals substances, with chloride ions being one of the most destructive.
In order for stainless steel to resist corrosion it requires that a passive layer of oxygen remain inside the pipes. If oxygen levels in the water decrease too far, or if a part of the pipe cannot gain easy access to oxygen, corrosion may quickly develop. Surface corrosion will soon give way to more serious forms, eventually causing the pipes to crack.
Copper is also surprisingly vulnerable to corrosion, especially if the water has an acidic nature. Contractors measure acidity by means of the pH scale, with a value of 7.0 representing a completely neutral substance. If the pH of a water source falls below the relatively modest level of 6.8, copper pipes may begin to corrode.
Corrosion may also affect metal pipes from the outside. Any pipes installed beneath the surface of your yard may suffer corrosion due to general soil conditions. Studies have found that almost 75 percent of such buried utility lines suffer from corrosive soil conditions. As a result, corrosion remains the second most common source of water main failure.
PVC holds a clear advantage with regards to corrosion. Simply put, PVC pipes will not corrode, no matter how caustic the water or soil to which they are exposed. As a result, PVC pipes boast the lowest overall failure rate among plumbing pipes.
2. Low Coefficient of Friction
Few people recognize the impact that their pipes have on the overall water pressure inside their home. The key to understanding this relationship lies in a technical term — the coefficient of friction. The coefficient of friction expresses how much a particular material will slow down the flow of a particular fluid — in this case, water.
Different pipe materials have vastly different coefficients of friction, as measured in terms of friction loss, meaning the loss of pressure. Numerous factors affect the pressure loss that occurs inside of a given water pipe. The flow rate of the water, as well as the diameter of the pipe, both have a marked impact on the amount of friction loss.
That said, at any given flow rate and pipe diameter, all pipes made out of metal exhibit higher levels of pressure loss than an equivalent pipe made out of PVC. In other words, on a microscopic level, the walls of a steel or copper pipe are many times rougher than those of a PVC pipe. As a result, water flows much easier through PVC. You may even find that your water pressure shows notable improvements when switching over to PVC pipes.
For more information about whether PVC would made a good choice for your next plumbing upgrade, please contact the industry pros at Accurate Plumbing.