PVC and HDPE are without doubt the two most popular pipes used in underground construction. However, there is considerable debate as to which pipe is the best to work with when it comes to piping solutions for homes and businesses. Both PVC and HDPE pipes have their strengths and weaknesses and it can be hard to choose one.
Here’s a comparison between PVC pipes and HDPE to help you decide which pipe to work with for your plumbing needs.
What are PVC and HDPE Pipes?
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) pipes and fittings are extensively used in water piping systems. PVC pipes and HDPE pipes have some common characteristics which make them a preferred choice for a wide array of applications.
- Made of plastic
- Resistant to Corrosion
- Resistant to bacterial and chemical build-up
- Have higher life expectancy than metallic pipes
Differences between PVC pipe fittings and HDPE pipe fittings
PVC is a durable vinyl polymer whereas HDPE is a polyethylene thermoplastic made from petroleum. Both pipes are strong through high temperatures. When comparing failure ratings when exposed to events like rain, stress, wind, heat or cold, HDPE is proven to be more durable. PVC pipes has a rating of one in 48,650 events; HDPE one in 10,000,000 events.
Flexible PVC pipe however is more valuable for one time projects.
Gasket or gluing sealant is used to join PVC pipes. HDPE pipes are joined by heat fusion. Hence, while PVC pipe fittings can be joined underwater, HDPE cannot.
But HDPE pipes can withstand and dampen more shock waves compared to PVC.
Continuous exposure to hot or cold weather results in slow expansion of pipes and fittings. HDPE pipes expand four times more than PVC pipes.
PVC can be installed in Open Trench and Drop Burial ways. Installation is easy and quick; not dependant on weather conditions, and requires no particular machinery. Overall PVC Pipe price is quite low.
HDPE pipes can be installed in Open Trench, Drop Burial, Directional Bore, and Horizontal Bore ways. Trained personnel and energy intensive equipment are needed for installing HDPE fittings. HDPE pipe price can be higher.
PVC pipes are stronger and stiffer, so they can be mechanically joined to valves, non-plastic fittings. A major drawback is water leakage through these joints.
The softer and more bendable HDPE pipes provide leak-free joints to prevent water leakage.
Use in Irrigation
PVC pipes are extensively used for irrigation. However, more people prefer HDPE pipes for irrigation systems where digging is hard or impossible. For golf-course irrigation systems, HDPE pipes are best suited.
The most common application of PVC pipesis in water-piping at homes. These are also used for sewers, drains, irrigation and industrial purposes.
HDPE has more expansive uses — for distribution of natural gas, petroleum and chemicals. These are also used in water, sanitary and storm sewer systems.