Plumbing systems have become a lot more sophisticated over the years, with many houses now including water heaters, multiple bathrooms, storage tanks, water recycling and complex stormwater drainage. An experienced plumber can install or repair any of those systems, and the work is sped along by modern pipe materials. Once upon a time, residential plumbing included a mix of PVC, clay, iron and copper pipes. But, these days, plumbers tend to use just a few materials, and CPVC is increasingly common in plumbing installations and new home builds.
What is CPVC?
You can probably see just from the name that CPVC pipes are a similar product to PVC pipes. Both are a type of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that’s cheap to make, effective as a plumbing material and very easy to work with using simple tools.
CPVC stands for chlorinated polyvinyl chloride, and it’s a close cousin of standard PVC. The molecules of standard PVC plastic are made up of about 25% chlorine atoms. The chlorine atoms form a layer of protection around the other materials in the plastic, which is why PVC is good at standing up to things like alkalies and water with high mineral content. In CPVC, chlorine atoms make up 40% of the molecule, which offers protection and makes it more resistant to heat and chemicals.
Differences Between CPVC and PVC
CPVC and PVC are directly related, though there are a few key differences between the two:
- Molecular makeup. Like we said above, CPVC and PVC have slightly different chemical structures. That makes CPVC more resistant to heat, pressure and some chemicals.
- Sizing Standards. PVC and CPVC both come in the same nominal pipe sizes (noted as ‘DN’ in Australia), but CPVC is also available in the same nominal sizes as copper pipes. This means CPVC can be used to replace existing copper pipes while remaining compatible with tap fittings and without needing to redesign the system to accept larger diameter pipes.
- Connection Types. CPVC is a soft, heat mouldable plastic that’s easy to work with. But, because the molecular makeup is a little different, PVC and CPVC pipes need different connection fittings and adhesives. The adhesives used to join CPVC are designed to slightly melt the plastic and form an unbreakable bond, and the change to its chemical structure sometimes requires different glues than PVC.
- Colour. You can usually spot CPVC at a glance by its slightly yellow or off-white tinge. On the other hand, standard PVC pipes are typically white.
Where is CPVC Used?
CPVC is an evolution of standard PVC pipes and is often used in the same applications. That means CPVC is suitable for:
- Drinking water. Just like PVC, CPVC pipe can be used for any fresh or drinking water applications where it has an AS/NZS 4020 certification. Not all CPVC pipes are designed for use with drinking water, but your plumber will be sure to use the correct product.
- Hot water systems. Its heat-resistant qualities make CPVC great for hot water systems. Residential hot water systems are typically made of copper, which degrades over time and is susceptible to the minerals in the water. CPVC is capable of withstanding the heat of residential hot water – usually, around 60C – and is more resistant to the long-term effects of water.
- Commercial and industrial piping. CPVC is more chemically resistant than PVC pipe and is also suitable for high-pressure applications. That makes it great for businesses that need to carry liquids that standard PVC can’t handle. Food and drink manufacturers, hospitals, water treatment plants, chemical handling and mining operations often use CPVC pipes.
- Waste, drainage and stormwater. CPVC can be used for any wastewater, drainage or stormwater applications, including underground installation.
While the two products are similar, they shouldn’t be mixed into a single piping system. PVC and CPVC need different adhesives and have different chemical, heat and pressure ratings, so it’s important to stick to one or the other to get the full benefits of the product.
Need Help With Your Plumbing? S&J Plumbing & Gasfitting are Brisbane’s Plumbing Experts!
Staying on top of the plumbing in your home is one of the best investments you can make in the health and wellbeing of your family. Leaky pipes, broken fittings and older plumbing systems could all use maintenance or updating before small issues turn into big problems. For help with any plumbing needs, the experienced team at S&J Plumbing and Gasfitting are always available! If you’d like to make an appointment or find out more about what we do, simply get in touch with us today.