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PVC is a widely available material that is used for countless applications. You will often see this type of piping used with an air compressor and if you have, then you may have wondered how to connect an air compressor to a PVC pipe.
While it is possible to use PVC pipes with an air compressor, almost any expert or air compressor manufacturer will tell you not to do this.
This may come as a surprise to many people as it’s certainly not uncommon to see PVC being used. So, while there are a plethora of YouTube videos out there advising otherwise, we are going to provide you with all the information you need to know as to why it’s not a good idea to use a PVC pipe with your air compressor.
PVC is used for so many things that it would be impossible for us to list them all here! One of the main reasons that it is so widely used is because of how cost-effective it is. When you compare the price of PVC to other similar materials, the difference in price is pretty obvious.
What’s more, this is a very strong and durable material that’s widely available. Compared to things like various types of metal, PVC doesn’t come with the risk of rust or corrosion which makes it great for applications that involve liquids.
With all of these obvious benefits, it comes as no surprise that people are connecting PVC pipes to their air compressors in the belief that this is the ideal material for the job. Initially, it may appear to be a viable option but when you look more closely, you will see that this is fraught with risks and problems.
There is no denying that PVC has a world of advantages and this is why it is so widely used. However, just like anything, there are some clear downsides to using PVC and these are especially notable when it comes to using a PVC pipe with an air compressor.
Quite shocking is it to learn that PVC is prone to exploding when it is used with compressed air. If and when this happens, PVC debris will be spread quickly around the area which, it goes without saying, could cause some pretty serious injuries. So, above everything else, you have to keep in mind that using PVC pipes with an air compressor serves as a serious health and safety risk.
One of the most obvious problems with PVC is how PVC pipes are sealed. There are sealing issues with this material in general but when it comes to pipes, it’s particularly problematic. When installing and sealing PVC pipes, almost everyone will experience problems in some capacity. It’s notorious for this and as such, it is not uncommon for the piping to leak.
More often than not, people will attempt to connect a PVC pipe to their air compressor without using the correct techniques nor will they leave the PVC cement long enough to cure and seal properly. The result is a compressed air system that is extremely hazardous and once again, a danger to your health and safety.
Also, consider that this inadequate installation will likely result in a drop in the performance of your compressed air system. There are some situations where PVC piping for an air compressor will be buried under the ground. While this does remove the risk of injury due to an explosion, it doesn’t solve any other problems. And in the event that repairs did need to be made, you’d have to dig up the entire system.
Another problem that you will face when using PVC pipes with your air compressor comes from the age of the material. When a PVC pipe is new, it can handle a lot more than it can as time goes on. While this is a durable material, you will find that it ages pretty quickly.
When these pipes are new, they can typically handle between 300 and 600psi. That’s quite a lot considering that most domestic air compressors don’t have a maximum psi that exceeds 175. However, after not too much time, the PVC will weaken and it won’t be able to handle anywhere near as much pressure.
As this material ages, it gets more and more brittle. And it’s not just age that causes a drop in the quality of PVC. Did you know that the surrounding temperature can have an effect on how brittle or strong PVC is? A PVC pipe that is a decade old will perform significantly worse than one that has been freshly installed. The more the pipe is exposed to extremely cold temperatures, the more quickly it will degrade. The result? A PVC pipe that’s much more likely to shatter.
After learning all of this, it won’t come as a surprise to you that there are many places around the world that prohibit the use of PVC piping with air compressors, especially in above-ground applications. Even air compressor manufacturers are reluctant to recommend the use of PVC piping and if that’s their suggestion, then we think it is worth adhering to.
So, if you can’t use PVC pipes for your air compressor, what can you use? It can be frustrating to learn especially when you consider how cost-effective this material is. But with the dangers and risks involved, it’s worth it to go for something a little more expensive that’s going to keep you safe.
The best material for piping for air compressors is one of many types of metal. These materials do not come with the risk of explosion and there are a lot of different options. For example, things like steel, aluminium, galvanised metals and copper pipes are all viable options.
Moreover, there is far less chance of metal degrading as quickly as PVC so you’ll have something that stands the test of time. The only exception to this is black iron as this is susceptible to corrosion so it will need to be replaced much more frequently.
If you don’t want to go for a metal pipe then you could use PEX piping (cross-linked polyethylene) is another viable option. While this is more similar to PVC in many ways, it has the advantage of not being prone to exploding and can put up with a significantly higher amount of pressure.
If you’re keen to attach new lines to your air compressor then you may have thought about using PVC. This is an affordable material that is often used for transporting liquids. However, when it comes to containing compressed air, PVC is far from the ideal option. In fact, it’s downright dangerous.
So, while you may have been wondering how to connect your air compressor to a PVC pipe, we would have to urge you to consider your options here. While metal pipes are a little more expensive, they’re much safer and won’t come with the risk of decreased performance.