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PVC Air Tank – Dangers of PVC Pipe Air Tanks

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PVC is a popular material for compressed air system piping as it is cheap, versatile, and easy to install. PVC is also being used by people at home to create their own air tanks for their air compressors.

This page will present to you some demonstrations on how to create a PVC air tank and then more importantly, the dangers of doing so.

Table of Contents

PVC Air Tank Demonstrations

Let’s get straight into the demonstrations. Here I have picked out a few YouTube videos that guide you through the whole process of creating a PVC air tank.

These two videos are great demonstrations of how to go about creating an air tank with PVC pipe, a proper homemade tank! I’m not going to go into great detail on this as I am strongly opposed to the idea.

I will switch the focus to the dangers of creating a PVC pipe air tank.

Dangers of PVC Air Tanks

Just like with pipes, PVC is seen as a cheap and durable option for creating a homemade air tank. Though this is a very creative idea, it comes with some catastrophic underlying risks that people are either unaware of or choose to ignore.

PVC piping should never be used in compressed air systems, nor should it be used for air tanks. Just because they’re cheap and somewhat easy to install does not outweigh their disadvantages. Sometimes, you may even wish to connect two air tanks together.

Compressed air systems generate various levels of pressure, depending on the demand of the application. It’s very easy for this pressure to exceed the strength of PVC piping, and in doing so, an explosion will occur that ejects shrapnel in all directions.

It is also known that heat and lubricants will wear away at PVC pipes and create weak spots that when combined with the air pressure, can burst!

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has banned the use of PVC piping in most compressed air applications since the 1980s, for very good reason. Pressure, heat, and lubricant aerosols are prevalent in compressed air as soon as they leave the initial compression process and enter the PVC pipe or air tank. Each of these can have a significant damaging effect on PVC that can lead to catastrophic problems and injuries.

PVC piping or air tanks may be able to be used in compressed air systems IF it is wrapped in a conduit approved for compressed air. But this then adds unnecessary costs and may not provide you with a piping material as durable or safe as other options in the market.

Most PVC pipes are rated with a maximum temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but if temperatures of the compressed air reach around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the pressure rating is cut in half. Therefore, if a PVC pipe is rated 150 psi, it is now rated 75 psi, making the likelihood of an explosion even more probable.

PVC poses extremely unnecessary risks to people working around it. There are many durable and safer options that you should turn to before PVC.

For more information on PVC Air Lines visit our guide!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about PVC Pipe Air Tanks

Can PVC pipe be used for compressed air?

Yes, but it is certainly not advised. PVC pipe for compressed air presents too many risks of failure and injury to people within the compressed air systems environment.

How much air pressure can PVC hold?

Most smaller sizes of PVC pipe when new and perfectly sealed can hold between 300-600, this rating may not last for long, however. and especially when the pipe is put under the stress of high compressed air temperatures which can cause the pressure rating to half if temperatures reach 110 F.

What PSI can schedule 40 PVC handle?

This completely depends on the pipe size in inches. The greater the size the lower the working and bursting pressure, e.g. 1/2″ schedule 40 PVC can handle 600 psi, whilst 2″ schedule 40 PVC can handle 280 psi.

If you have any questions about PVC air tanks then please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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