Longevity Studies for Plastic Pipe

Plastic pipe’s foremost benefit for any project is its longevity. In 2009 research institutions Jana Laboratories, American Water Works Research Foundation, and Australia’s national science agency, analyzed, tested, and studied PE and PVC pipe manufactured in North America. The results concluded that PE and PVC pipe lasts more than 100 years. 

As an inert material, plastic pipe offers advantages unmatched by metal pipe. Results of the study noted that plastic pipe is resistant to corrosion and outside factors such as: chemical attacks, bacteria growth, and climate changes. Both research studies reaffirmed plastic pipe as the material of choice for longevity.

Excerpts from the Jana Laboratories study: 


“Polyethylene (PE) piping materials have enjoyed a long and successful history in natural gas and water piping applications. In the safety-critical natural gas piping industry, PE pipe is the material of choice in North America, holding a 95% market share in new distribution piping networks. For the water industry, PE pipe dominates the European market at 65% share. In the UK, PE pipe holds almost the entire water market with 85% market share.”

“Case Studies for four utilities and a modeled average utility show that greater than 100 years performance is projected for higher performance PE materials.”

For the complete Jana Laboratories PE report, click here. 

Excerpts from the American Water Works Research Foundation Study: 

“The lower failure rate of North American PVC pipes is attributed to superior slow crack growth resistance and fracture toughness. PVC pipes manufactured in the United States and Canada exhibited an increased resistance to crack initiation, slow crack growth, fatigue crack growth, and ultimate brittle fracture when the researchers compared them with PVC pressure pipes manufactured outside of North America.” 

“Getting back to the question of what to expect from PVC water pipes after 110 years in service, the researchers carefully analyzed 40+ years of available in-service pipe performance information. Their model projects that water utilities should expect a minimum service life of 100 years from PVC pipe when properly designed and installed. From the relatively low failure rates that the researchers project for PVC pipes in service for up to 110 years, PVC pipe is arguably a best-practice option for achieving sustainable water distribution/transmission systems. Moreover, it is reasonable to expect that recent and continuing improvements in the manufacturing of PVC pipe will result in even lower failure rates than those predicted using historical data.”


For the complete American Water Works Research Foundation and Australia’s national science agency PVC study, click here.

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