Your PVC pipes will probably outlive you

Underground PVC-U and PVC-Hi pressure pipe systems for water and natural gas supply have an expected service life of at least 100 years, according to a new joint position paper by PVC4Pipes and the European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA; Brussels). PVC4Pipes is the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers’ (ECVM; Brussels) platform dedicated to the PVC pipes value chain, promoting the acceptance and utilization of PVC piping systems.

underground PVC pipes image from PVC4Pipes

Durability is crucial for underground piping systems due to the high cost of installing and replacing pipes buried in the ground. Research, extrapolation studies and examination of dug-up pipes in service for decades show no significant degradation of the material. Further analyses on these test samples confirm an expected service life of more than 100 years, according to the paper.

The paper highlights how the 50-year design basis, which estimates the stress that a thermostatic pipe is able to withstand for 50 years at 20°C, must not be confused with the actual lifespan of a plastic pipe system. In reality, the service life is expected to be more than 100 years due to a number of reasons: The lower real pressure levels experienced by the pipe over its lifetime; the lower real average ground temperatures; the always positive wall thickness tolerances; and the safety factors applied at the design stages, said the study.

“There is ample evidence that underground PVC-U and PVC-Hi pressure pipes for water and natural gas supply are fit for service for 100 years or more,” commented Vincent Stone, PVC4Pipes Project Manager. “The utility companies critically depend on highly durable and reliable piping systems and the position paper clearly demonstrates that PVC piping systems can deliver outstanding performance in various operation conditions.”

Being highly durable and able to be recycled multiple times without losing their long-term mechanical performances, PVC pipes are a cost-efficient, safe and sustainable choice for transporting drinking water and natural gas through the whole life-cycle of the distribution networks, the study said.

Image courtesy PVC4Pipes

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