CPVC vs PVC: Major Differences and How To Choose The Best Option

CPVC vs PVC, what is the comparison? This is a question most people would ask given that CPVs and PVCs have many similarities. However, CPVC and PVC should never be used interchangeably despite their having similar characteristics. Although both CPVC and PVC are made from the same element, they have one major difference.  CPVC is changed through a free radical chlorination reaction that raises the chlorine content level of the material while CPV is thermoplastic that has been molded into different products similar to PVC.

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Definition of PVC and CPVC

PVC is a very versatile material and can be used for piping, external coating for cables and wires, and tubing used for the delivery o drugs, food, and medicinal packaging. PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride while UPVC stands for Unplasticized  Polyvinyl Chloride. Usually, PVC is naturally rigid, and therefore for it to soften up, the addition of plasticizer is done.

In most cases, PVC pipes are used for water supply. They are most preferred as conduits for electrical wires, drainage of soil and waste in houses, irrigation, and industrial chemical transportation. They can also be used for water supply in buildings. PVC pipes and fittings are made of PVC resin plus some additives that have been added to ensure the manufacturing for pipes and fittings is workable.

Most piping manufacturers prefer lead as a processing aid due to its affordability as compared to other additives. Usage of lead for additive processing of PVC piping is illegal in potable water use. This is because lead usually leaches out from pipes thus causing health hazards due to the posing of potable water.

What’s The Difference Between CPVC and PVC

As mentioned in the introduction part, there is a major difference between PVC and CPVC. In this section, we are going to respond to the “what is the difference between PVC and CPVC” question in depth. 

  • Pipe Size

Most PVC pipes have a nominal pipe size (NPS) while CPVC comes in either NPS standard sizing or Copper Tube Sizing (CTS). The two pie sizing systems are very different and that’s why the two cannot be used interchangeably. You need to determine your usage of CPVC before buying one. This will help you in determining the size of the system you need.

  • Colour

CPVC comes in different colors and that could throw hints at you during purchasing. For example, Most Copper Tube Sizing CPVC comes in light yellowish color while Nominal Pipe Size CPVC comes in a light gray color. On the other hand, PVC pipe and their fittings come in white or dark gray color. Always refer to the manufacturer’s printing on the pipe for accuracy.

  • Chemical makeup

Primers and solvents are sometimes needed during the connection of pipe and joint for PVC and CPVC due to their chemical composition. A strong joint is determined by the capacity of the cement to chemically soften the plastic. This is also a very important factor to consider, ensure that you use specific cement depending on the material you are using.

Application of PVC Vs CPVC

As mentioned above, CPVC is good piping for hot water applications that are up to 200F. However, PVC too can be used for unheated water, vent, and drainage systems. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that CPVC can be used for both hot and cold potable water.

CPVC has many resistant properties that make it suitable for both commercial and industrial use. Due to its versatility, CPVC is more expensive as compared to PVC. Ideally, it is recommendable to use PVC for recreational buildings, cold water systems, vent systems, and drainage. On the other hand, CPVC is great for applications with a maximum temperature is beyond140 degrees Farenheight.

Can PVC and CPVC Be Used Together?

While all Nominal Pipe Size has size pipe and fittings that can fit together, it is not recommendable to mix and match materials. Mixing PVC and CPVC can alter the line’s temperature and pressure of the pipe. Therefore, all pressurized piped systems should be made using matching materials and schedules.

Their makeup differences give CPVC a proper chance to withstand a wider range of temperatures. For this same reason, most building codes prefer using CPVC for hot water application as opposed to PVC. According to ASTM standards, PVC should only be used in applications that are 140 degrees Fahrenheit and below. If PVC is used at temperatures exceeding 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it could cause softening of the material which could otherwise weaken its joints. On the flip side, CPVC can operate even up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.


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