How Long Does PVC Pipe Last? – Pipes And Plumbing Lifespan

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most used plumbing materials that are well known for its durability and long-lasting. People have been using PVC pipes for years, and still, they’re doing completely fine.

But as the saying goes that nothing lasts forever, neither do PVC pipes. How long does PVC pipe last? Can you do something to increase the lifespan of the PVC of your house?

The earliest widespread use of polyvinyl chloride pipes was reported to be in the 1930s in Germany. But those lacked proper extrusion technology. The technology was developed during the 1950s and 1960s. People started to use PVC pipes in the USA widely from the early 1960s, mostly for water supply lines.

Back then, these pipes are providing services without flaws. The inexpensive and durable tubes are expected to have a lifespan for more than a century. However, the life expectancy of PVC pipe is just an estimation as they have not been around for this long.

Now let’s find out why the PVC deteriorates and preventive measures to increase their lifespans.

Why PVC Pipes Fail?

Two main factors determine the lifespan of the plumbing system; corrosion and installation. Corrosion occurs for various reasons.

1. Excessive Sunlight Exposure

Outdoor PVC pipes are exposed to UV components of sunlight. The exposed area becomes permanently transformed into a complex structure that results in discoloration known as “UV degradation” or simply “Sunburn.”

The sun’s ultra-violate rays basically break down the PVC structure material and make it fragile and breakable. However, there are ways to prevent this sunburn even if you have to keep the pipes exposed to the sun. The best methods are painting the pipes or covering the portions exposed to the sun. Manufacturers recommend applying a thin light-colored coating on the pipes to prevent them from discoloration so that they remain strong and durable.

Manufacturers try to buy PVC pipes from the suppliers who keep the pipes in the covered warehouse so that they won’t get burned before you buy them.

2. Water Velocity

When water flows through the pipes with great pressure, the surge pressure and water hammer conditions may develop. They will damage those pipes surely no matter how durable they are. So, you should be aware of the flow velocity when installing an irrigation system.

Every pipe is designed to withstand a specific flow rate called pounds per square inch (psi). It signifies the pressure that results from a force of one pound applied to a one square inch area. For example, class 300 pipe means, it can work properly if the flow rate is below 300 psi.

3. Underground Debris

PVC pipes that stay underground, sunlight won’t harm them. Unfortunately, the rocks and debris lead to friction, which can damage the pipes.

To eliminate the problem, underground rocks and debris need to be removed from the place before installing the pipes. If the soil is very rocky, you may need a chain trencher to crush the rocks. It’s either the contractor to do it or the landlord, but doing this is important to keep the pips safe.

Soil movement is another cause of PVC failure. In places where temperature changes frequently, freezing and thawing may cause the soil to shift or expand, damaging the plumbing system. The pipelines should be installed one to two feet below the ground level to eliminate the problem.

4. Inappropriate Installation

No matter how good the pipes’ quality is, they will break down if the plumbing system is improperly installed. PVC cement is used to bond the pipes with fittings. If the cement is applied too much, it will break the pipes with time, as PVC is very porous. If used too little, there may be leaks or breaks because of a weak bond. 

When someone fails to push the pipes properly to the right place, “Short Insertion” occurs. A gap results because of the short insertion that will eventually lead to leaking.

“Short insertion is another type of installation error. When installing a pipe into a fitting, make sure you push it all the way to the stop. If you don’t, the gap will allow contaminants to accumulate, and the pipe system will fail.”Plumbing Perspective

To prevent the installation issues, the contractor should remain careful to remove all sorts of debris and rocks from the place before cutting the pipes.

The outer edges of the PVC pipes should be smooth so that connections can be made perfectly. While applying cement, he should also remain careful to use the cement properly. In these ways, you can expect to have a longer lifespan of the pipes and plumbing system.

Cast Iron Or PVC: Which One to Use for Drainage System?

Cast iron was the primary material that was used for the drainage system. When PVC came with full potential, it has been used widely in industrial and residential construction.

Both the materials come with some pros and cons. When you know them properly, you can decide which one to use for your installation rather than listening to the contractor only.


Cast irons last for over centuries if everything goes right. PVC’s lifespan is still indefinite. Both of the materials have a great lifespan. But PVC has a lower temperature limit and greater expansion limit than the other. As PVC pipes are more porous, they may create problems.


PVC pipes are very reasonable compared to the cast irons. They are also easy to work with. That’s why contractors are comfortable to work with it and recommend this to the owner. However, it’s the owner’s right to know the potential of the two materials.


PVC pipes make more noise than cast iron pipes, which is also an important factor to think of. As PVC pipes are less dense than cast iron pipes and lack in dampening effect, they make more noise.

An engineer must let the owner know about the pros and cons of both the materials for the drainage system. If someone prioritizes cost efficiency and rustproofing, PVC should be the choice. If he thinks of better durability and a quiet environment, he may choose cast iron.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does PVC pipe go bad?

PVC pipes provide great service, except there’s any improper installation. There is no record found that PVC pipes go bad without reason.

Does PVC pipes get brittle with age?

PVC pipes get brittle only if they are kept exposed under sunlight for many days.

Which PVC pipe is best for plumbing?

Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) comes with extra chlorine added to the material. This is the best for plumbing for better durability.


So, how long does the PVC pipe last? We hope now you know what you have been looking for. PVC pipes are a very good option for homeowners as they are rust-resistant, so there’s no chance of getting metal in your drinking water.

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