Ruptured PVC Air Lines (what not to do)
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  1. #1
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    Default Ruptured PVC Air Lines (what not to do)

    My neighbor had 3/4" Sch.40 PVC he had been using as compressed air lines in his garage for 15 years operating at 125 psi max pressure. He recently upgraded the compressor to a Wayne series 5000 which is rated for 175 psi. I told my neighbor to not even attempt and use his existing air lines if he's going to pump up his 80 gallon tank and air lines to 175 psi. Well.......he didn't listen. As soon as the pressure got up to about 170 psi, he stated the air line fractured and sent PVC shrapnel flying. He stated it sounded lke a gun going off! Fortunately, no one was injured but a wise lesson was learned. Aftwards, he told me he should have listened......duh!






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    At least he used primer.

    There are several grades of glue. Choosing the correct one and letting alone to set helps. Keeping the pipe away from the hot roof doesnt hurt either.

    But after 15 years I guess it just fatigued out.

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    The folks at the organ donor clinic and blood bank might have given him different advice than yours.

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    The PVC I use in my shop for compressed air is rated for 600 psi. It seems to me it should have held. I guess that guy should not have run that red light either. Makes you think. Maybe a safety factor of 10 instead of 2 is not overkill.

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    I believe code forbids this

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    I don't use PVC, but I have been around plenty of it and it ruptures from time to time. But, IMO, there is very little energy or danger behind the flying pieces. I guess if you had your eyeball 2" away and caught a piece just right it could hurt. But I'd be more afraid of about 200,000 other shop hazards.

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    My father had 3/4"-1" Sch.40 PVC lines all over the garage when I was growing up. There were a few leaks every once in a while, but he also had a 120 psi max compressor. Not once was there ever a rupture in the line. I suspect more than anything, it is the age of the PVC pipe more than anything else which causes it to fail as it becomes brittle with age.

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    Yes, using exposed PVC is an OSHA violation.

    19880520 The Use of Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe in Above Ground Installations

    Steve

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  10. #9
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    When a customer asks for me to install plastic, I refuse, if I am to connect new piping to an existing (plastic) system, they sign a waiver or it doesnt get connected.

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    If I need to install a temporary line in a rented space that I plan to vacate in 2 years max, I won't hesitate to use PVC. Granted, my compressor is of the lower PSI (125) / higher CFM type.

    If I owned the building, I'd run copper.

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    I will stick to good old steel water pipe. It will stand up to hot chips or welders running close by.

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    I guess I've been out in the woods too long, but I could not fathom anyone using pvc for high pressure air . People , solid steel engineered air tanks rupture from time to time, killing anyone near them, and you want to use over the counter, handy man plumbing supplies. Why not just stick it all together with duct tape.

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    I don't think any PVC is approved for compressed air. The failure at a glue joint is one thing, a pipe that shatters will embed pieces in walls or people.

    Feel free to use it in lieu of other materials with the understanding that it could injure or kill somebody and, if you have insurance they may deny the claim.

    The cost between steel pipe and PVC is a hundred or two for most systems, why would anyone risk their life for a hundred bucks? You can rationalize it all you want, there is NO reason to use PVC for compressed air lines.

    Steve

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    I agree w/the above. I'm not sure I like soldered copper either, but it's better than plastic.

    My home lines have been and will continue to be black steel pipe with cast fittings and soft lines with crimped NPT ends. I'm not partial to PVC water tube hose clamped over barbed fittings either.

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    Toolpost,

    If you use the right copper (the blue stuff not the red stuff) what's your concern with soldered copper lines? Much easier to reconfigure than steel in a shop that's adding machines.

    /has copper, wondering what I'm missing. Besides a couple hundred extra dollars.

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    They have aluminum air lines in our shop. They are pretty neat. They come with special plastic fittings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sneed View Post
    The PVC I use in my shop for compressed air is rated for 600 psi. It seems to me it should have held. I guess that guy should not have run that red light either. Makes you think. Maybe a safety factor of 10 instead of 2 is not overkill.
    As it goes through repeated heating and cooling cycles it becomes brittle. I have a lot of PVC that was put in above ground for watering systems for barn stalls. It is about 20 years old, I am sure it would shatter easily if you tossed it on the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    They have aluminum air lines in our shop. They are pretty neat. They come with special plastic fittings.
    Transair, I install a lot of it, pricey .. but completly modular.

    Transair - Compressed Air Pipe System

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    PVC is used because is it fast and cheap. I would never use it as a permanent setup but I would for temporary use. As noted above, I would not consider safety as a reason not to use it. I don't think it's that dangerous.

    Soldered copper is far better. I don't see why anyone would shy away from it in almost any case. If you look up the burst strength of copper it is over 2000PSI for even the thin wall kind.

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  26. #20
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    I find air hose where the brass end is crimped onto barbed nipples are scarey as hell when the nipple pops out. then you have a hose with a brass end whipping around beating the hell out of everything in its way. seen that a few times and it was not funny.


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