The Water Side of Our Business

Atkore’s PVC brands have a significant PVC water and plumbing pipe business, which supplies plastic products for irrigation, DWV (Drain-Waste-Vent), well casing and sewer and drain systems. The Atkore water pipe business also has significant possibilities for growth.

According to a 2007 EPA survey, the nationwide infrastructure need is estimated at $334.8 billion from January 2007 through December 2027. The largest portion of that figure – $200.8 billion – represents needs in water transmission and distribution projects.

Municipalities indeed face a gigantic task: many pipes are nearing the end of their life spans, and the time to choose a replacement has arrived. In a long-term project like pipe replacement, where life span can exceed 100 years, proper material choice is critical. In this article, we examine the most common types of municipal pipe material, along with a general guide of the strengths, weaknesses and uses of each material.

Pipe materials can be any one of the following: ductile iron, steel, concrete, vitrified clay, HDPE or PVC. The first four materials can have a number of issues, including corrosion and entrapment source for bacteria and chemicals, which can have a negative impact on human health. Conversely, PVC pipe is considered a safe, durable, and sustainable alternative.

Although Polyvinyl Chloride material was discovered in the 19th century, it took World War II to increase the demand for sewer and water pipe made of PVC. In the decades that followed, the uses of PVC skyrocketed.

Unlike metal piping, PVC Pipes won’t rust or corrode over time because it does not react with air and water the way metal does which results in a significantly longer lifetime of the pipe. This compares favorably to other products that might be used in these applications such as cast iron, ductile iron, concrete, steel, clay tile, and asbestos cement. This corrosion resistance translates to a low failure rate. A 2012 survey by Utah State University indicated that when compared to cast iron, ductile iron, concrete, steel and asbestos cement, PVC had the lowest failure rate, with only 2.6 failures per 100 miles of pipe per year.

Especially in relation to municipal work, cost is a significant reason to consider PVC as it is typically less expensive than other materials. As we become more aware of contaminated water in our communities, corrosion-proof and lead-free options, such as PVC pipe, are most likely to be considered over other piping methods.