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CPVC: Getting the Most Out of Re-Piping Projects

Long-term reliability is something facility managers look for in all materials, and for good reason. Quality, durable products can make a huge difference in terms of cost and comfort, and plumbing applications offer one of the easiest opportunities to capitalize on when performing re-piping work. 

As many copper systems reach the end of their useful life, the need for an alternative material is top-of-mind for many. Offering value and long life to plumbers and facility managers, chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) plumbing systems have become prevalant and are worth investigation by all facility mangers. 

CPVC's physical properties provide unique, tangible benefits in plumbing applications. Like all plastics, CPVC resists corrosion in ways metals cannot, but as a member of the polyvinyl family of thermoplastic piping materials, CPVC is inherently resistant to oxidative degradation from chlorine because of the material's chemical structure. With large chlorine molecules protecting the carbon-carbon bonds on the polymer backbone, CPVC is unaffected by residual chlorine disinfection byproducts in the water, such as hypochlorous acid. Comparatively, other common piping materials from the polyolefin family (such as PE-X, PP-R, and PB) have been modified to protect the polymer backbone, but once the antioxidants have been consumed, the polymer is highly susceptible to erosion or systemic crack propagation throughout. Combined with the material's corrosion resistance, CPVC offers facility managers reduced maintenance needs and confidence that the system will stand up to all water conditions. 

Other benefits are just as easily realized by choosing CPVC. By maintaining quiet operation, CPVC reduces the unpleasant clanging and banging that is common of copper systems. Additionally, CPVC's chemical makeup also provides the pipes with greater thermal insulating properties than many comparative metallic systems, meaning less heat loss within hot water applications which can help save on energy bills. 

Biofilm, formed with biomass such as bacteria, fungi, algae, and mold adhere to surfaces in wet environments, is a major safety concern in all potable water distribution systems. While no material can completely prevent the formation of biofilms, any piping material you choose should have a consistent record of biofilm resistance as benchmarked against other materials, and should be able to be treated with a regimen of hot chlorinated water to remove bacteria from the system without being damaged. CPVC has exactly these two properties, meaning that facility managers who use the material can be confident that they are using the best approach possible to mitigate the risks of serious water-borne pathogens such as Legionella. 

For facility managers, CPVC provides value through its long-term reliability and durability in all water conditions. Considering its simple and efficient joining methods, light weight, and flexibility in smaller sizes, rerouting a system becomes simple when needed to adapt to tight spaces. When making decisions for repairs and re-pipe jobs, CPVC can offer a cost-effective and higher-performing plumbing solution for commercial needs. As a total plumbing solution, CPVC is here to stay. 

Domenic DeCaria is a marketing/product engineer for the Lubrizol Corporation and can be reached at domenic.decaria@lubrizol.com.

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