Three main types of water require drainage in homes. There’s rainwater, which is collected from the roof and allowed to flow into catchment tanks, surface drainage systems, or soakaways. Grey water is water discharged by washing machines, showers, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks. Then there’s also blackwater, the wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers.
To transport these types of water away from residences, plastic drainage pipes are a popular choice. The following advantages of plastic drainage pipes make them a preferred material for such applications.
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Advantages of Plastic Drainage Pipes
Plastics are very versatile and can be molded into almost anything. This makes them ideal for building drainage pipes. In addition, plastics are lightweight and require less maintenance.
If you built your own house or client house then this article is for you to avoid the mistake in the selection of Drainage Pipes.
#1 Corrosion Resistance
Plastic pipes, like those made of high-density polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride, are highly resistant to corrosion. They don’t react to air and water, so unlike metal pipes, they will not rust. Washing powders, soaps, detergents, and cleaning solvents contain harsh chemicals that can corrode metal pipes.
Plastic pipes are inert and impervious to most alkalis, acids, and salts. This makes them particularly suitable for drainage applications, especially for grey water transport and reclamation.
Corrosion resistance ensures the integrity of drainage piping systems against chemical infiltration. Even if contamination is not as grave an issue in drainage piping as it is in potable water piping, it's still best to prevent it, particularly if the water is to be reclaimed (applicable to rainwater and greywater) for secondary uses.
Galvanic corrosion is the disintegration of metals that takes place when materials with different electrode potentials are joined together and immersed in an electrolyte. Plastic pipes are poor conductors, so this is not an issue with plastic piping. Plastic pipes, pipe fittings, and accessories also form integrated plastic piping systems which negate the need to use dissimilar materials in pipe joints.
#2 Abrasion Resistance
Apart from being corrosion-resistant, plastic pipes also have superior abrasion resistance. This makes HDPE pipes, in particular, a widely used material in petrochemical operations.
Fine particles and other solids can get into rainwater and grey water drainage pipes. Solids are also naturally present in blackwater pipes. Therefore, using abrasion-resistant pipes in drainage systems is a good idea.
The Buried Structures Laboratory of the Utah State University compiled the experiences of 308 utilities to determine water main break rates in the United States and Canada.
Among the pipes studied, cast iron comprised 28% of water mains, ductile iron 28%, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 22%, and asbestos cement 13%. Other less common piping materials were high-density polyethylene or HDPE, steel, molecularly oriented PVC or PVCO, and concrete steel.
The study found that PVC had the lowest failure rate among all the water mains piping materials.
Laboratory testing confirms the excellent durability of plastic pipes. The failure rating of PVC is 1 in 48,650, while HDPE has a failure rate of 1 in 10,000,000.
Plastic pipes have an approximate longevity of 100 years, and most expect them to have a life expectancy longer than that estimate.
Different factors determine how long PVC and HDPE drainage pipes can last. However, their durability, high resistance to corrosion, abrasion resistance, and chemical inertness mean plastic pipes will require fewer repairs and replacements and thus cost lower to own and maintain.
#5 Optimal Flow Rate
Smooth-walled plastic pipes have a good flow capacity. Thus, plastic pipes can maintain flow rates even with minimal slope or grade.
#6 Low Risk of Leakage
Leakage is an essential consideration in wastewater piping systems. Leaks in blackwater drainage systems, in particular, can lead to health and sanitary issues.
Fortunately, plastic pipes are less prone to leakage than their alternatives.
Plastic pipes have different levels of rigidity, but they are more flexible than metal pipes. They can yield under load but not break.
Plastic pipes also have a higher resistance to impact damage than most other piping materials. They can also sufficiently withstand ground movements. As such, they are much less likely to crack compared to more rigid metal and concrete pipes.
Furthermore, plastic pipes come in various lengths. They can be manufactured and transported in configurations that are longer than their metal alternatives. This means a specific length of plastic piping may require fewer joints than a comparable length of metal piping. Joints can be more susceptible to leaking, so reducing the number of joints means a lower risk of leaking.
Plastic pipes also usually come with corresponding fittings and accessories, and this makes building integrated custom piping systems possible. Particularly in the case of HDPE pipes, moreover, advanced joining techniques (say, fusion jointing) lead to excellent joint stability and integrity and, thus, a lower leakage risk.
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#7 Low Upfront Cost
PVC pipes, in particular, are known for their low cost. They can be 70% cheaper than cast-iron pipes. PVC pipe fittings are also considerably more affordable.
HDPE pipes are, of course, more expensive than PVC pipes. However, they are also more flexible than PVC, and advanced pipe joining techniques give HDPE pipes better joint integrity.
For these reasons, HDPE pipes are more expensive than PVC pipes.
#8 Low Cost and Ease of Installation
Plastic pipes are relatively easier to install and come with lower installation costs than other piping alternatives.
First, they are really lightweight. For instance, two 20-feet PVC pipes four inches in diameter weigh approximately the same as a single five-foot iron pipe of the same size. This makes plastic pipes easier (and more economical) to transport and install.
Second, there are plastic pipes that may be installed using trenchless technology. In the traditional piping installation, one must dig a trench.
In trenchless pipe installation, a horizontal directional boring machine drills a hole underneath the ground. Once the head of the drilling rig reaches the end of the borehole, the installation crew attaches the plastic pipe to the drill head. Subsequently, they retract the rig, pulling the pipe in and through the hole.
Working With Plastic Pipes
Plastic pipes are excellent materials for piping. Like all materials, however, they have minimum and maximum capacities and are rated for use in specific conditions.
For instance, one must pay attention to and mitigate the adverse effect of water hammer on plastic pipes. Pressure and thermal ratings must, of course, be heeded. Some plastic pipes are meant for above-ground use, while some are designed for below-ground installation.
Furthermore, weathering (particularly due to sun exposure) and its effects on plastic pipes must also be considered. Perhaps, one can try to minimize it by applying a suitable industrial coating on the pipe exterior.
That being said, plastic pipes are some of the best piping materials. One just has to note their specifications, abide by recommended applications, and be meticulous about their correct use and installation.
Sudheer T R is the Managing Director at Polyfab Plastic Industry LLC, experts in high-quality, technologically advanced plastic piping solutions in the UAE. The combination of academic interest, field exposure, and market experience of 15 years has given Sudheer the force to harness cutting-edge technologies in today's most rigorous construction environment.
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