Air Compressor Works
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PVC Piping for Compressed Air – A Disaster Waiting to Happen

January 19, 2018
pvc problem

Man, that PVC pipe we got from Home Depot was really cheap and easy to put up.  Now we’re ready to get this body shop up and running.

Cheap and easy now could turn into expensive and deadly down the road. PVC pipe is not designed for compressed air.

In fact, it’s not even legal (unless you bury it or encase it in a shatter-proof material, which gets rid of the whole cheap and easy part).

There are very good reasons:

1.  The maximum temperature of most PVC pipe and fittings is 140F, and even at 110F you derate the pressure rating in half. So a pipe rated for 150 psi is now only good for 75 psi, because of the 110F temperature of the air running through it.  Most small piston compressors can have air coming out 200F or higher, especially in the summer.

2.  PVC becomes brittle when exposed to the oil vapor in the compressed air and UV light.

3.  A PVC pipe cracking or failing at 100 psi can easily kill or injure you or your employees.

Don’t just take our word for it – here is what the pipe manufacturers themselves have to say about it:

Charlotte Pipe:  Testing with or use of compressed air or gas in PVC / ABS / CPVC pipe or fittings can result in explosive failures and cause severe injury or death.

JM Eagle:  “WARNING:  Do not use air pressures higher than 9 psi.  Use of compressed air higher than 9 psi may create unsafe conditions.”

Silver Line Plastics:  “PVC pipe is NOT an adequate material to use for conveying or storing compressed air or other gases.
PVC can rupture and shatter explosively when subjected to high-pressure compressed air, and the resulting sharp pieces of shrapnel produced may result in severe injury or damage.”

Even the companies that make PVC use strong warnings and scary pictures, telling you not to use PVC for compressed air.  Don’t let cheap and easy now cost you a lot later.  Don’t use PVC pipe for compressed air, and if you have it, replace it immediately.

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