History of Drain Piping Materials
Drain Piping Material
Throughout the years, four main materials have been used for drain pipes. These are cement, clay, cast iron and PVC. Here we’ll take a look at these materials, including the benefits of each one and their most common uses. Read More
Cement Drain Pipes
Cement has long been a favored material for drain pipes, including large city sewer and storm drains. Cement is easy to work with because it can be poured to meet the exact size and shape specifications of any job. It’s also extremely durable.
Negative aspects of cement drains include cracking and the materials used to make the cement itself. While cement is a very durable substance, it can crack. The abundance of pot-holes on roadways shows just how often and easily cement can crack, under the right circumstances. While some of these circumstances, such as direct, prolonged sunlight, don’t occur underground, others, such as freezing and thawing, do.
Up until the 1970’s, asbestos was a popular ingredient in cement. Although it wasn’t known at the time, asbestos is a dangerous cancer-causing chemical. Over time, it’s believed that asbestos can seep into the ground, potentially contaminating groundwater, as well as the water that flows through the pipe, contaminating the lake or river into which the pipe empties.
Clay Drain Pipes
Although not as common as they once were, clay pipes are still sometimes used for drainage. The advantages of clay pipes are much the same as cement, although most types of clay are more prone to breakage. Clay pipe use has declined due to the material’s porous nature, which is unsuitable for sewage or wastewater.
Cast Iron Drain Pipes
Cast iron has been a favored material for many different types of drain pipes for years. Cast iron is incredibly strong and completely non-porous when in good condition. This makes it ideal for both storm drains which have to deal with very large amounts of rain water, as well as drains which must safely transport wastewater without contamination.
Cast iron’s largest disadvantage is its susceptibility to corrosion from acidic materials. This is of special consideration when transporting waste from manufacturing plant, labs or other facilities which use different types of chemicals. Its two main advantages are its strength and its potential to be recycled.
PVC Drain Pipes
PVC has become one of the best choices of drain piping materials in most modern construction jobs for many reasons. It is less expensive that virtually any other drainage materials, it can expand and contract during periods of extreme temperature to prevent breakage and it is resistant to breakdown from wastewater and chemically polluted water. PVC is also much lighter and easier to install than most other materials.
The main disadvantages of PVC include its strength and eco-friendliness. Currently, very few facilities offer recycling for PVC, although as the industry expands this option is expected to become more widespread. PVC can, under very large loads, bend. While in most cases this is not damaging, if a bend is severe enough it can impede the flow of drainage and cause a serious blockage. For this reason, PVC drain pipes are typically recommended for smaller business and residential applications instead of large commercial and municipal drains.
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