Another important element of comfort and safety in buildings is plumbing. What is surprising is that some municipal codes actually allow for up to one gallon of leakage for underground piping made of traditional materials. This is often because the joints are butted together and if the Earth moves, a leak can develop. Plastic pipe, if installed properly, shouldn’t leak and should last a long time. According to John Rattenbury, PE, CIPE, “Perhaps the two most attractive features of PVC [pipe] are low cost and ease of installation.”

Plastics also offer homeowners the ease of do-it-yourself repair. Easy to drill, saw and construct, plastic piping is fast, efficient and economical for homeowners. According to the, the benefits of PVC include:

  • Competitive price vs. copper
  • Self-insulating to minimize thermal loss
  • Integral flame retardancy
  • Less subject to jobsite theft
  • Inert to acidic soils and corrosive water supplies
  • Non-conductive
  • Easy for DIY’ers
  • Virtually no sweating or condensation
  • Can be pressure tested in ten minutes

In addition, the use of plastic piping for central vacuum systems, cold air inlets for fireplaces and gas heaters can help reduce drafts in the home environment.

Beyond serving as a cost-effective, efficient and durable means of meeting plumbing needs, plastics can serve as a green solution. For example, the manufacturing of PVC pipe can provide an overall savings of energy compared to alternative materials. A 1991 study by Franklin & Associates indicated that the manufacture of pressure piping used in the building, construction and transportation industries required 56,497 trillion fewer BTUs than iron and concrete/aggregate alternative pipe. Also, because PVC pipe and fittings are lighter in weight than alternative piping materials, they can save energy in transportation.

Modern Pipe Materials Resources

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