HDPE Pipe vs. PVC for Specialty Construction Applications

HDPE Pipe vs. PVC for Specialty Construction Applications

In the specialty construction space, there’s a lot of talk about the best materials for a job, and for good reason. No matter your industry or use case, performance matters, and selecting the right solution for your specific application can make or break your construction project. This conversation is particularly important when it comes to piping, in part because you may not know the difference between the two key players: HDPE and PVC.

But HDPE and PVC pipe have some important differences when it comes to performance, installation methods, and applications. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between PVC and HDPE pipe and the implications for specialty construction.

HDPE vs. PVC Pipe: Material Differences

HDPE pipe is made of high-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic polymer that’s malleable at high temperatures. It is created by linking ethylene molecules, which are derived from natural gas.

HDPE has a high strength-to-density ratio and is corrosion-resistant, making it an extremely versatile and cost-effective material. In fact, HDPE is the most widely used type of plastic today.

PVC pipe is made of vinyl, not plastic. Specifically, it’s made of polyvinyl chloride, which is created by reacting monomer molecules of vinyl chloride to form a polymer, then adding plasticizing substances to increase the flexibility and other performance characteristics.

PVC has a high level of hardness and is resistant to corrosion. Depending on the formulation of the PVC, it can have better thermal performance than HDPE. PVC pipe is generally rigid, whereas HDPE has greater flexibility.

Joining Methods for HDPE and PVC Pipe

The methods of joining sections of pipe differ for PVC and HDPE.

PVC pipe, being rigid, is generally joined using solvent cements. These cements glue the pieces of pipe together by melting the adjoining surfaces of the pipe to each other. A particular benefit of this method of pipe joining is that it can be performed underwater.

A specific type of PVC, Fusible PVC®, can be joined with a specialized thermal butt fusion technology. This gives it an advantage over other types of PVC, especially in installation environments that are more difficult to work in. It also offers more durable performance and extended lifespans.

HDPE pipe is joined using plastic fusion, wherein the plastic of each pipe being joined is melted together under extreme heat. This results in seamless, leak-free joints between pipes.

Installation Methods for HDPE and PVC Pipe

PVC pipe can only be installed using open trench or drop burial methods. Additionally, it must be carefully installed to ensure that the pipe does not crack longitudinally or fail due to overbelling—a condition that occurs when a receiving pipe is not properly sized or fitted to the adjoining pipe, resulting in pipe bursting or breaking or leaking at the joint.

Fusible PVC® is the exception. Because of its unique thermal butt fusion joining technology, it’s built for streamlined, trenchless installations using horizontal directional drilling or sliplining.

When it comes to installation methods, HDPE pipe outperforms PVC pipe because it is more versatile. HDPE pipe can be installed via drop burial or open trench installation, but it can also be installed using horizontal directional drilling or sliplining. Depending on the application, these methods can be more time- or cost-effective.

Durability and Lifespan: Which Material Lasts Longer?

According to research by the Plastic Pipe Institute, HDPE pipe can exceed the conservative 50-year life expectancy generally assigned to it and can have a lifespan of over 100 years. A recent study has also found that PVC pipe can have a projected lifespan of 100 years, making both extremely long-lasting pipe materials.

HDPE, however, is most often the more durable material. Due to the flexibility of the material and the leak-free fusion joints, HDPE is better able to withstand impact, stress, and weather than its more rigid counterpart. PVC has potential, but only Fusible PVC® can truly compete with HDPE.

Applications

HDPE and PVC piping have many overlapping uses, as well as some uses specific to each type of pipe, due to their differing performance characteristics.

Applications for HDPE and PVC Pipe
HDPE Pipe PVC Pipe

Water mains

Gas mains

Sewage

Stormwater and drainage

Irrigation

Slurry transfer

Electrical and communications conduit

Mining

Firewater

Ocean cleanup

Outfall Lines

Brine Lines

Process Chemicals

Water mains

Household plumbing

Sewage

Stormwater and drainage

Irrigation

Chemicals

Exhaust and fumes

Underwater piping

HDPE vs. PVC for Specialty Construction

For specialty construction, HDPE pipe is the right choice for most applications. There are some occasions where PVC, especially Fusible PVC®, is best, but HDPE ultimately reigns champ. It’s a durable, long-lasting, and flexible material that balances performance considerations with cost-effectiveness.

For most specialty construction use cases, the heat tolerance of HDPE pipe is perfectly adequate to the application, and the added cost and time savings from installation via sliplining or other innovative methods is a serious benefit.

Both HDPE pipe and PVC offer a flexible, durable, cost-effective solution for a variety of specialty construction applications. If you’re hoping to implement a piping solution in your next project, contact US FUSION. We have a complete line of products, in various sizes and configurations, so you can get the results you need.

How Long Does HDPE Pipe Last? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does HDPE Pipe Last? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

In the world of piping, HDPE pipe is a relatively new addition. While it’s been around for years, some of the older players in the game like copper and cast iron have been around for much longer. You’re likely familiar with the more traditional pipe materials but may still have questions about HDPE pipe. 

What is HDPE pipe? How long does it last? What are its applications? Keep reading for our answers to all your HDPE pipe questions.

What does HDPE stand for?

HDPE is an acronym for high-density polyethylene. High-density polyethylene is a polymer (a substance made of large molecules) that is thermoplastic, which means that it is malleable or moldable at high temperatures. HDPE is useful as a material because it is corrosion-resistant and has a high strength-to-density ratio.

HDPE is used in a variety of applications, not just in piping. Plastic bottles, house wrap, lawn furniture, plastic mailers, and even ropes and fabrics are made of HDPE. HDPE is cost-effective, making it desirable for a multitude of uses from playground equipment to fuel tanks.

What is HDPE pipe?

HDPE pipe is flexible, corrosion-resistant plastic pipe. It is generally lighter in weight and more cost-effective than metal pipe. HDPE pipe is joined by welding or fusing the plastic pipe sections together at heat, without jointing chemicals, rubber seals, anchors, or thrust restraint blocks. 

Plastic pipe is impact resistant and is not susceptible to the same environmental stressors as ferrous pipe materials. It also has a high flow capacity and is resistant to many chemicals. In addition, its low thermal conductivity cuts down on the need to insulate HDPE pipe, as it maintains more stable fluid temperatures.

How is HDPE pipe manufactured?

HDPE pipe is manufactured by extrusion. The material is heated, then pushed through a mold that shapes the material into a length of pipe at the desired diameter. It is then cooled in stages by spraying the pipe with water or submerging it in water. HDPE generally contains carbon black, which provides it with UV resistance.

How is HDPE pipe installed?

HDPE pipe can be installed using standard pipelaying practices, as well as sliplining, horizontal directional drilling, and other cost-saving methods. HDPE pipe works well for trenchless installation.

What is HDPE pipe used for?

HDPE pipe is used in myriad applications, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Water mains
  • Sewer mains
  • Stormwater drainage systems
  • Irrigation
  • Oil and gas pipelines
  • Mining
  • Firewater lines
  • Electrical conduit
  • Telecommunications conduit
  • Agriculture
  • Compressed air
  • Chemical manufacture and transport
  • Food manufacture and transport
  • Ground-source geothermal systems
  • Fertilizer
  • Desalination plants
  • Paper and pulp manufacture
  • Hazardous materials
  • Ocean cleanup
  • Brine pipelines 

How long does HDPE pipe last?

The typical benchmark for HDPE life expectancy is 50 years; however, per the Plastics Pipe Institute, HDPE pipe used in municipal potable water systems can have a lifespan of over 100 years. When compared with other traditional piping materials copper (40-75 year lifespan), cast iron (50-75 years), and galvanized steel (30-50 years), HDPE pipe demonstrates better longevity.   

What temperatures can HDPE pipe withstand?

HDPE pipe can operate in temperatures ranging from -220° F to 140°F. Of pipe materials, HDPE does not have the highest temperature resistance, and it does have relatively high thermal expansion. However, for most applications, the temperature range that HDPE pipe can withstand is more than adequate.

What’s the difference between HDPE and PVC pipe?

While both HDPE and PVC are plastic pipes that are lightweight and resistant to chemicals and corrosion, there are a few important differences. The first is that while HDPE pipe is made of high-density polyethylene, which is derived from petroleum, PVC pipe is made of a vinyl, polyvinyl chloride. This results in different performance characteristics.

PVC pipe is generally stiffer than HDPE, and it is joined with sealants and not heat fusion. . PVC also has better thermal performance, expanding significantly less..

HDPE, however, outperforms PVC for certain applications. PVC can only be installed via open trench or drop burial methods, whereas HDPE can utilize horizontal directional drilling, sliplining, and other methods. HDPE piping boasts leak-free joints, unlike PVC, and is generally more durable and suited to a greater range of uses.

Is HDPE pipe safe for drinking water?

Absolutely. HDPE pipe is water and food-safe and is used extensively in drinking water and food manufacturing and transport applications. NSF, an organization that develops public health and safety standards for drinking water, has debunked study results that suggest that HDPE and similar plastic pipe is hazardous for drinking water applications.

At US FUSION, we do HDPE piping like nobody else in the industry. With decades of experience, high-quality materials, and complete solutions for every situation, we’re your trusted source for pipe installation, fusion, and repair. Reach out to our team to learn more about our services.

How Geosynthetic Materials Can Benefit Your Specialty Construction Application

How Geosynthetic Materials Can Benefit Your Specialty Construction Application

No matter what you’re building or where you’re building it, you have to think about the soil on your construction site. You may need to protect it from erosion, increase its stability, protect it from chemicals, or control how water flows through it. For each of these concerns, geosynthetic materials like geosynthetic liners or geocells can provide immense benefits.

If you’re building new fuel storage tanks or putting in a municipal septic system, you’ll need geosynthetic materials. But what are they and what do they do? Read on for a brief synthesis of geosynthetic materials and their applications and benefits.

What are geosynthetic materials?

Geosynthetic materials are man-made materials that are used to protect or improve soil quality. There are several key categories of geosynthetics:

  • Geotextiles
  • Geocells
  • Geogrids
  • Geomembranes

Geotextiles

Geotextiles are fabric-like (hence “textiles”) and are felted or woven synthetic materials. These textiles often come on rolls and are similar in look and feel to landscape fabric. This geosynthetic cloth is used for its permeability and filtration characteristics, as well as its flexibility and tensile strength.

Geocells

Geocells are webs of cells formed from synthetics molded into an accordion-like structure, expanding when unfurled. These cells can be filled with filtration or fill materials like gravel or soil when the cellular confinement system (the overarching term for geocells and similar systems) is spread on a landscape.

Geogrids

Geogrids are geosynthetics that are formed into flat, intersecting grids—they look like temporary construction fencing. The open spaces in geogrids (called apertures) vary in size, depending on the desired stiffness of the material, and this design helps distribute loads over wider areas, increasing soil stability. Geogrids can be created via extrusion, weaving, or welding and extrusion.

Geomembranes

Geomembranes are the least permeable of the geosynthetic materials we’ve covered, as they’re generally used to control the movement of fluids. They are made of polymer sheets or from geotextiles treated with polymer spray.

What are geosynthetic materials used for?

At a high level, geosynthetic materials are used to protect soil. This includes reinforcing soil, preventing soil movement or loss, improving load distribution on level or sloped soil, separating soils, controlling water flow through soil, and containing liquids or preventing fluids from permeating soil. This means that when we get into specifics, geosynthetic materials and geosynthetic liners have hundreds of specialized applications for a variety of industries.

Geosynthetic material applications in the construction industry

One of the main uses of geosynthetic materials is for secondary containment. Secondary containment systems are used in conjunction with primary containment systems (that is, containers or tanks) to prevent discharge from escaping into an uncontained area. Essentially, it’s a backup containment system in case the main system you’re using to contain a material leaks or fails.

Secondary containment applications for geosynthetics include:

  • Aboveground storage tanks and foundation ringwall liners
  • Secondary containment levees, berms, and dikes
  • Spill containment berms
  • Leach fields

Geosynthetic liners can also be used for primary containment and storage, particularly for water. Some use cases include:

  • Pond liners
  • Brine ponds
  • Stormwater ponds
  • Temporary storage pits
  • Fuel reserve pits
  • Landfill Liners

It is also the case that some sort of containment is needed for situations where hazardous or potentially hazardous materials are being used or stored as a spill pad, kind of like putting down a tarp before you paint something. Potential uses in this category include:

  • Concrete protection
  • Drilling pad liners
  • Remediation pads
  • Frac tanks
  • Decontamination liners

Additionally, in some applications, like erosion control or environmental restoration, geosynthetic materials like mats and tubes may be used in combination with biodegradable materials, such as blankets made from coconut, straw, jute, or other natural fibers. This is generally to prevent soil erosion and to protect germinating plant life from stormwater runoff, wind, and animals.

Industries

Geosynthetic materials and systems are used in many industries requiring specialty construction. Here are just some of the industries that commonly require the use of geosynthetic materials and liners:

  • Agriculture
  • Fertilizer
  • Landfill
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Petrochemical
  • Chemical
  • Construction
  • Industrial construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Infrastructure
  • Water resources management
  • Environmental services
  • Power and energy
  • Industrial waste management
  • Mining
  • Industrial wastewater management

What are the benefits of using geosynthetic materials?

Each type of geosynthetic material has its own specific uses and, therefore, its own performance characteristics and benefits. But generally speaking, the benefits of geosynthetic materials are their tensile strength, durability, and permeability or impermeability, depending on the use. For containment or water flow control, impermeability is essential; for erosion control or soil stabilization, permeability is necessary to allow for natural soil behavior and health, as well as to avoid creating unintended water flow or runoff issues.

Geogrids and geotextiles are excellent for soil reinforcement and stabilization because of their resistance to environmental and construction damage, as well as their high tensile modulus and strength. Geomembranes are also resistant to damage, particularly chemical and hazardous material damage, which, paired with their impermeability, make them ideal for primary and secondary containment applications.

If you’re in need of a foolproof secondary containment system, geosynthetic liners are a great choice. And at US FUSION, our experts have decades of experience in installing them properly, safely, and efficiently. Contact our team to learn more about how we can help with your project.

Types of HDPE Pipe Fusion

Types of HDPE Pipe Fusion

HDPE piping provides durable, long-lasting options for many piping applications. Highly customizable, HDPE piping can be applied using various pipe sizes and fusion techniques. These fusion techniques make HDPE piping unique, allowing long pipe stretches to connect and maneuver through complex spaces. US FUSION provides tailored solutions to meet your needs through HDPE pipe fusion.

What Is Pipe Fusion?

In most piping applications, a single section of HDPE pipe will not get the job done. When multiple pieces of pipe are needed, HDPE pipe fusion comes in. While there are many types of HDPE pipe fusion, each involves heating the pipe and applying pressure to fuse two pieces together. In doing so, HDPE pipe fusion ensures long stretches of pipe are securely fused, resulting in a continuous, sealed connection.

At US FUSION, our on-site plastic fusion team is highly skilled in HDPE pipe fusion methods. Whether your piping is underground or exposed, we focus on safety for both our crew and for the environment. We’ll ensure your pipe connections are strong and sealed properly, keeping unwanted elements out of the environment — all while meeting the highest industry standards and environmental regulations.

4 Types of HDPE Pipe Fusion

Not sure what fusion method is needed for your project? We’ve got you covered. Below we’ll break down HDPE pipe fusion and application methods.

Butt Fusion

Butt fusion is used when two straight pieces of pipe need to be fused together. Butt fusion is the most common and best pipe fusion method. In this method, a fusion machine holds two pieces of pipe while the ends are heated with a heater plate. Once heated, force is used to push the two ends together where they are left to cool. After the cooling process is complete, the two pieces of pipe are firmly connected and sealed. The butt fusion weld will then be stronger than the pipe.

Electrofusion

Electrofusion is used in tight spaces and with fittings where butt fusion cannot be used. Electrofusion couplers are needed to make this fusion connection. In this method, electrofusion couplers have copper coils inside the coupler that are then heated up to fuse to the pipe together to create a tight seal.

Socket Fusion

When flexibility is vital, socket fusion is used. Socket fusion involves heating the outside of a pipe while simultaneously heating the end of a socket. Once each piece is heated to the ideal temperature, the socket is then inserted into the pipe. As the two pieces cool, the connection is sealed, and flexibility remains.

Saddle Fusion

Saddle fusion connects the concave portion of a pipe to an inverse saddle fitting. To get a precise connection, both the concave portion of the pipe and the saddle fitting are heated. Once heated, the two pieces are joined together using force, and the piping is then allowed to cool under pressure. This heat/pressure method creates a tight seal at a complex connection point.

Get Expert HDPE Pipe Fusion For Any Application

Think your application may require some type of HDPE pipe fusion? US FUSION can help! Our skilled builders, contractors, and craftsmen are capable of providing valuable services across a variety of industries — helping you keep your project and environment safe. Contact us today for more information.

Sliplining Pipe: How It Works and Why It’s Beneficial

Sliplining Pipe: How It Works and Why It’s Beneficial

Although it’s one of the oldest methods in the industry, sliplining is still a popular choice for underground pipe rehabilitation projects. Let’s take a closer look into what it is, how it works, and why it’s beneficial for a number of specialty construction applications.

What Is Sliplining?

Sliplining is a trenchless underground pipe rehabilitation technique that involves installing a pipe of a slightly smaller diameter into a larger “host” pipe, then grouting the space between the two and sealing the ends. This process helps to restore the structural integrity of the existing pipeline, and helps to prevent the need for a more costly, time-consuming, and labor-intensive pipe replacement.

6 Steps of the Sliplining Process

The sliplining process can vary depending on a number of factors, from field conditions to pipe materials and host pipe conditions. However, it most commonly follows a six-step process, which we’ll outline below.

1. Inspect the Host Pipe

The first, and arguably most critical step, of the sliplining process is to inspect the condition of the host pipe. During the inspection, you’ll assess the level of pipe deterioration, which is critical in determining how feasible the sliplining procedure may, or may not, be. In some cases, a host pipe inspection is done manually, but the preferred method is to use remote controlled closed circuit television (CCTV) equipment to inspect the pipe. High definition cameras inside the pipe allow you to inspect the existing pipelines safely.

2. Clean Out the Host Pipe

After you’re done with inspection and you’ve determined that sliplining is a feasible solution, you need to thoroughly clean and clear out the host pipe. This prepares the pipe for lining installation and can be accomplished using a variety of tools and methods. Some of the most common pieces of cleaning equipment include plugs, cleaning buckets, water jets, and pipeline pigs.

3. Join the Carrier Pipe(s)

Before you can install a carrier pipe into the host pipe, you’ll have to join various sections together to reach your desired length. These sections are usually welded together using butt fusion technology. Bell and spigot pipe can also be used, and the joints can be pushed together during installation.

4. Access the Host Pipe

As a final step before installation can begin, you need to access the host pipe via two small excavations, commonly known as the entry and exit pits. The areas of these excavations serve as the beginning and end of your liner installation.

5. Install the Carrier Pipe

Once you’ve done everything to prepare both pipes, you’re ready to install! You can install the carrier pipe by either pushing or pulling it through the host pipe until it reaches its intended placement. Then, in some cases, a 24-hour resting period is required following the installation. If necessary, you can use one of several ways to restore lateral pipe connections.

6. Restore the Terminal Connections and Grout the Annular Space

The final step of sliplining is to restore connections at the terminal ends of the carrier pipe and grout the annular space surrounding it. Not only does this help stabilize the new liner, but it also helps ensure that the pipe doesn’t experience any substance leakage that could potentially harm the environment.

Once your newly lined pipe is fully grouted and stabilized, you’ve completed the sliplining process. However, it’s best to keep an eye on how the new parts are performing for a couple of days, just to make sure everything still goes as planned.

4 Key Advantages of Sliplining

The sliplining process dates all the way back to the 1940s, but it’s stuck around for good reason! And with newer systems and technologies available each year, the process has only become more efficient over time.

If you’re in need of an underground pipe rehabilitation, sliplining is one of your best options. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Affordable – When compared to a complete pipe replacement, the cost of a sliplining procedure is considerably less expensive.
  • Efficient – With the help of an experienced technician and innovative technology, sliplining is a fast and simple process — helping you ensure your operations are back up and running with minimal downtime and environmental concern.
  • Less excavation – Sliplining involves much less excavation than a full pipe replacement. This means you’ll have to worry about far less disruption, waste, and cleanup.
  • Long-lasting performance – Sliplining is guaranteed to repair any deteriorating pipes and restore them to full capacity, helping you remove any risks of corrosion or leakage for years to come.

Want to learn more about our sliplining capabilities at US FUSION? Check out our downloadable brochure!

Need to rehabilitate your underground piping system? Choose US FUSION. With decades of experience in pipe rehabilitation, our team has a long history of applying the latest technologies, construction methods, and safety practices within our operations. Complete your project with us and discover why we’re the best choice in the industry. Request your free quote today.