You probably already know that PVC means polyvinyl chloride, so what does the extra “C” in CPVC stand for? The answer is “chlorinated”. It probably sounds a little redundant, but that’s because CPVC undergoes a manufacturing process that further chlorinates the plastic.
The resulting chemical composition of CPVC allows it to be more resistant to heat and pressure, which in turn increases durability.
While both PVC and CPVC belong to the same family of piping materials for residential and commercial plumbing applications, they’re quite different and shouldn’t be confused.
In this piece, we will talk about the uses of CPVC and how it differs from PVC. Once you understand how each works, you can confidently choose the right material for your project.
Because CPVC is more expensive than PVC, it’s typically used in industrial and commercial settings. However, it remains more cost-effective than traditional materials, and its long-lasting and durable characteristics make it an excellent choice for many applications in residential settings too.
Let’s start with some industrial and commercials uses. Besides the basic plumbing, drainage, and sewage infrastructure, CPVC can also house underground wire and distribute drinking water. It can even be used for agriculture, livestock, and farm irrigation systems.
As we’ve mentioned before, CPVC finds applications in your own home as well. Home irrigation and sprinkler systems, plumbing, and sewage infrastructure are among the most popular uses of this durable plastic piping.
To decide which material suits your project better, you first need to know their differences and particular strengths and weaknesses.
There’s one key difference between PVC and CPVC, and it’s their temperature thresholds. While PVC is typically capable of handling operating temperatures of up to 140 °F, CPVC is designed to remain strong in temperatures up to 200 °F.
Because of this reason, CPVC is the preferred material for hot water piping, and an actual code requirement when temperatures exceed PVC safety limits. PVC is more commonly used for cold water and drainage and waste pipes because it’s cheaper.
The addition of chlorine in the manufacturing process alters the chemical makeup of CPVC to increase durability over traditional PVC, but it also increases the cost. CPVC can sometimes be six times more expensive than PVC, depending on the quality and manufacturer.
The higher price is usually the defining factor when undecided between PVC and CPVC. It’s also the main reason, along with operating temperature, why the CPVC is chosen for hot water applications.
PVC and CPVC are almost identical in appearance, both are strong and rigid types of pipe that can be found in the same sizes. The only noticeable difference is in their color. PVC is usually white or dark gray, whereas CPVC comes in a cream or yellowish color.
PVC pipes require a solvent primer to soften and melt the plastic to allow better penetration of the glue. Because of the specific chemical composition of CPVC, it requires a specialized, high-strength solvent cement to connect pipes and fittings. Since the bonding agents are not the same, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.
You shouldn’t use “universal” adhesives with CPVC wither because the high-temperature water it will carry can soften the bond over time, which can lead to the pieces separating under high pressure. You don’t want to deal with a leaking pipe, trust us.
As with any kind of project, you need to consider your specific needs before choosing any materials. Both PVC and CPVC are very similar when it comes to their applications, we suggest asking yourself two basic questions:
- Will the pipes be exposed to high temperatures?
- What is your budget?
If the pipes are going to be exposed to high temperatures or are going to be used to distribute hot water, then CPVC is the best option because it’s safer and resists heat better. If you’re on a tight budget, then you can limit the use of CPVC to hot water systems and use PVC for cold water systems, drainage systems, and irrigation systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, combining PVC and CPVC is not recommended because it may compromise your system because of their different temperature and pressure ratings.
Just like PVC, CPVC is fire resistant, very hard to ignite, and will self-extinguish when not in a directly applied flame. To put it simply, CPVC will not support combustion and won’t help spread a fire, unlike other plastics that can keep burning even after the source has been removed.
PVC is widely used in plumbing applications because of its strength, flexibility, and durability. However, some applications require something stronger, and that’s when CPVC comes in to save the day.
When it comes to hot water systems, it’s essential to use CPVC because of its heat resistance. But because this is an expensive material, PVC is still preferred for any other residential applications.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you understand the differences between PVC and CPVC piping and now you can confidently choose the right material for your project.