Did you know that there are more than 40 high-rise projects occurring in Chicago right now? All of those buildings will need water supply lines and drain lines, and more often than not, contractors are opting to go with PVC, which is the acronym for Polyvinylchloride. Building contractors and engineers have several viable reasons to choose PVC over copper, brass, iron and galvanized steel. The biggest benefit is that PVC is corrosion resistant. The second biggest benefit is cost. It is often much cheaper to plumb a building with PVC than it is with any other material. Unfortunately, PVC is not without its drawbacks.

building_PVC_pipes.jpgCommon Causes of PVC Pipe Failures

PVC pipes are designed to last forever if the material is used for drain lines. When PVC is used for water supply lines, they have an expected useful life of between 50 and 100 years when they are installed properly and not exposed to excessive levels of sunlight, soil erosion or debris or put under excessive stress due to high water pressure.

1. Improper Installation

The number one reason buildings and homes experience PVC pipe failure are due to improper installation. Brass fittings should not be used on PVC pipes. Other types of metal and plastic can be used, however, those connectors and fittings must be properly sealed and tightened in order to avoid future leaks at the joints and seams.

2. Exposure to Debris, Sharp Rocks or Soil Erosion

When installing PVC pipes in the ground, the area should be carefully scanned for sharp rocks and other debris that could puncture the pipes over time. Ideally, the trench where the PVC pipe is to be installed should be padded with sand. This provides a barrier between the pipes and any sharp rocks or objects that could shift into the PVC. The sand also helps water drain away from the pipes to prevent soil erosion, which could cause bellying.

3. High Water Pressure

As much as your Chicago apartment, condo or co-op residents might like high water pressure in their showers, PVC pipes should not be exposed to excessively high water pressure, which is considered to be 60 to 80psi or higher. Water pressure that is greater than 80psi can cause PVC pipes to expand and crack, significantly reducing their expected useful lives.

4. Exposure to Sunlight

PVC pipes should not be exposed to direct sunlight. UV rays can cause deterioration of the plastic, making it brittle and prone to cracking. Since most PVC pipes are buried or located inside walls, ceilings, and floors, this is rarely a problem. However, if you do have PVC pipes that are regularly exposed to sunlight, you should invest in having the exteriors painted or coated.

PVC Pipe Repair with Nu Flow

Here at Nu Flow, we can help restore the integrity and useful life of your PVC pipes. If you’ve noticed a lot of pipe failures or leaks, consider having your PVC pipes lined or coated. Epoxy coatings and pipe liners are designed to seal small leaks and holes and restore the structural integrity of your water supply pipes and drain lines. They can even help prevent future leaks and can extend the useful life of your PVC plumbing system.

To learn more about how our pipe coatings and pipe liners can help you maintain your multi-unit residential building’s plumbing system, call us at 815-790-9000.