PVC and CPVC are different types of pipe that are often confused by many people, especially when they are written down.
However, there are some distinct differences between these two products.
While they are both made of plastics, PVC is a much more durable material that has an extensive range of uses in comparison to the less durable CPVC.
In this article, we will look at the main differences between PVC and CPVC.
What Is PVC?
PVC, or to give it its full name, Polyvinyl Chloride, is a plastic material that has been used in the construction of pipes and plumbing parts for over six decades.
PVC is one of the most durable plastics available which makes it extremely useful for plumbing requirements, vent systems, drainage systems, and more.
PVC pipes are much less likely to break, burst, or leak than other plastics meaning that they require much less maintenance and fewer replacement parts than other materials would. This is why PVC is typically used for a pressurized pipe system.
Unfortunately, PVC is made from oil and natural gasses which means that it is not sustainable or eco-friendly to produce and use.
Thankfully, because PVC is so durable, it should last many years before it is disposed of and replaced.
Not only this, but PVC is a recyclable material, making it easy to produce into other recyclable products when its lifespan comes to an end.
One of the main upsides to PVC piping other than its durability is the fact that it is non-toxic and the preparation process, including how to properly bevel PVC pipe.
This means that you don’t have to worry about potential contamination of your water supply, it has even been proven to be safe for use with drinking water, making it ideal for cold water systems.
“PVC is very easy to cut and work with, especially with tools like a chamfer tool. This makes it a great choice for construction and DIY projects too.
What Is CPVC?
CPVC, or Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride to be specific, is a type of plastic that has been manufactured since the 1960s.
It is made from a substance called PVC resin which is a white powder that is used to produce thermoplastics, and chlorine gas.
Interestingly, CPVC is a highly sustainable material due to its cheap manufacturing process and ability to be recycled.
CPVC piping is also significantly less durable than PVC and it is much more likely to need replacing much sooner than its counterpart.
However, this material is slightly more expensive than PVC, which is why PVC is typically the preferred option for many workmen.
It also is significantly more resistant to corrosion than metal pipes which makes it a great option for areas that experience high levels of moisture.
It is also suitable for use with hot water or other higher temperature substances due to its higher temperature threshold.
Although CPVC is much more difficult to cut and install, it is more affordable than PVC and will not corrode as quickly as metal alternatives.
The right material to use for your project will depend on certain factors such as your experience working with such materials, and the purpose of the piping once it is installed.
For people who are inexperienced in working with plastics or who require piping in higher temperature areas or uses, PVC is the better choice.
Important Differences Between PVC And CPVC
As we mentioned above, PVC and CPVC are very similar in both their applications and appearance.
However, there are a few significant differences that can influence the material that you opt to use in your project.
Remember that it is important to use the most suitable material for the job to ensure the longevity of the product.
Both PVC and CPVC products come in various different colors although the exact shades of the colors may vary depending on the manufacturer.
The most common colors available are white and gray, but it is possible to purchase both of these materials in colors such as black, green, and brown too.
The color of the piping is really only significant if you are having to color code different pipes for different uses or to help the piping to blend in with the surroundings.
As with the color variations, PVC and CPVC are both available in different sizes.
For example, a North American PVC pipe follows the Nominal Pipe Size system, whereas CPVC pipes are measured in a copper tube sizing system. Despite this, CPVC pipes aren’t copper pipes.
However, the specific dimensions of the piping can vary depending on whether it is made of PVC or CPVC.
It is the inner diameter of the piping in particular that varies between the two materials. Generally, CPVC pipes are made with thicker plastic to help increase their durability.
This means that a CPVC and PVC pipe with the same outer diameter will actually have different inner diameters.
It is important to make sure that you pay attention to the inner diameter of any piping that you are buying to ensure that it is fit for its purpose.
There are various chemicals that PVC and CPVC are resistant to and can safely be used with.
However, the chemical makeup is different for each type of plastic and therefore, the two plastics should not be mixed when using chemicals.
CPVC is compatible with chemicals such as chlorinated water; brine; caustic soda; solutions containing hydrochloric acid; sodium hydroxide between 120 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 30 minutes; and hydrogen peroxide up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
PVC is compatible with chemicals such as acetylene; ethyl chloride gas; carbon dioxide; methyl bromide gas; and liquid butane.
Both PVC and CPVC are capable of handling environments where they are likely to come into contact with substances such as gasoline and oils without losing integrity or suffering other adverse effects.
As we touched on above, CPVC and PVC have different temperature thresholds that make them suitable for different applications.
PVC has a maximum temperature threshold of around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, this means that it is less suitable for any application in which temperatures will exceed this limit. Instead, it works best with cold water.
If the temperature of this plastic exceeds the upper limit, it will begin to melt and break down. When this happens, toxins can be released into the air and the contents of the pipe.
CPVC on the other hand has a much higher temperature threshold, with an ability to handle temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that CPVC pipes will not begin to melt or break down until the temperature exceeds this extremely high limit.
The higher temperature threshold makes CPVC a much better choice for pipes that will be dealing with hot water and other heated substances.
Although PVC and CPVC are very similar products, they have very different uses and applications.
It is important to make sure that you choose the material that is most suitable for your needs before installing.
If you are unsure which material will be best for your needs, a qualified plumber will be able to assist you.