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Pipe Up, PVC Style: A Primer on PVC Pipes

Updated on July 10, 2014

So I decided to take a wee break from the geek world and write a bit about that one thing we all have probably dealt with at some point in our lives: PVC pipes. These bad boys are clearly in widespread use in heaps of industries -- from simple residential plumbing, all the way down to intricate water treatment systems. Their material properties allow them to be all sorts of different things, which easily makes them superior to other modern tools. Now if, for some odd reason, you still haven't had the chance to get your hands on one, then let me introduce its wonders to you!

Why use PVC pipes, anyway?

PVC pipes are eco-friendly. A good chunk of the basic raw materials for PVC are derived from salt, the abundance of which is always present anywhere in the world. That being said, PVC pipes are likely to last for decades, which means: in the long run, they’re going to cost less to recycle. They’re pretty light, too, so they’re more transportable by truck (think less fuel!).

PVC Pipe Facts

  • PVC pipes deliver pure water.
  • In the U.S., 2.2 trillion gallons of water are wasted annually due to (corroded or aging) metal pipe leaks.
  • They can handle up to 75,000 kg/m2 worth of external loads, which is roughly 40 meters of ground cover.

When you mix vinyl chloride monomer with water, you produce toughness that is resistant to fracturing. Flexible and incredibly lightweight, PVC pipes are among the tools to bring to construction sites – they don’t break when dropped, and they sure are a whole lot safer than steel pipes. Doing some underground installations? This is your best friend right here!

The chemical resistance of PVC pipes is beyond legendary. Such chemicals as acids, alkalies, and hydrocarbons can never do harm to the pipes and its gaskets. They easily tolerate aggressive soil conditions brought on by carbonates, sulphates, industrial effluents, and acid rain. They resist abrasion better than steel pipes, too, and offer exceptional resistance to wear. Ultimately, you, the buyer, get to save money because PVC pipes have long life, requiring only little maintenance.


Is better water quality what you’re after? Then your best bet is to run it through PVC pipes. They have this smooth interior surface – so smooth that friction is reduced, which allows sewage contaminants to pass through with little to zero chances of getting clogged up. They don’t corrode, as well, so you get to keep water in its purest form – and safe and pure water is what everyone hopes to be drinking or using, in general.

Got some fixing to do?

Highly resistant to thermal conductivity, PVC pipes make excellent insulation pipes and fire retardant structures. It’s very unlikely for them to catch fire – the source would have to constantly burst into flames! And even then, the materials that make up PVC pipes will combine straight away with oxygen molecules, which will eventually kill the fire.

More tips here!


Is that it?

Nope. Sure, they're highly regarded within the building industry and professional plumbers perpetually rave about them. But did you know you can also use them for little home organising projects? Yup, you read that right! Here are a few fun ideas to get you started:

Grab a short PVC pipe, mount it to the wall, and use it as a spot to keep all your extra cords.
Use short pipes and curved end pieces and build your furry pals (like hamsters) a nice and elaborate maze.
Water playgrounds, anyone? Drill a series of holes on the pipes and attach the open end to your hose to start some water fun.
Get a piece of piping, paint it, fit it with fancy end caps, and voila -- you now have a makeshift curtain rod.
Cut a few short lengths of piping to various heights, and from there, you can start organising office supplies or kitchen utensils with zero hassle!
Or if you're keen to kick things up a notch, how about a manual camera lens?

Having said all that, I'm pretty sure you now have a clearer idea as to why PVC pipes are widely used today for a whole bunch of building-related projects. And while they're expected to be used the traditional way, there are heaps of other fun things you can do with them (let me say this again: you can create a manual camera lens with PVC pipes, A MANUAL CAMERA LENS!). Should you need some help with, for instance, repairing PVC pipe in the ground, there's a number of business you can contact and will do just that!

Got more fun ideas for PVC pipes? Let me know in the comments section below!


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    • redfive profile image

      Levy Tate 3 years ago from California, USA

      Cool, indeed! Thanks for reading, pal :)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and useful --- wow the camera part is cool!