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Machine Shop and Tool Talk

Air compressor and PVC pipe

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Old 05-03-2010, 02:18:14 PM
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Steve Kunz Steve Kunz is offline
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

I used threaded heavy wall electrical conduit. I was able to get it free so I thought I would try it, that was about 20 years ago and I have not had any problems with it. If I remember right I had to cut the threads off and re thread it, heavy wall conduit is the same size as sch.40 pipe but the threads are straight instead of tapered.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:56:34 PM
Amcginley Amcginley is offline
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

At one time or another Iíve had shops set up with PVC, Iron and copper.

PVC, as many others have noted, can be very dangerous; the pipe is not designed to be used with air and has integrity issues with changes in temperature and any exposure to sunlight.

Iron was safe and secure but had several issues: it was a pain to install because we had to thread almost every joint and after about six months started to become a maintenance nightmare as the rust in the lines started causing issues with my machines. Even just using the blow guns was messy with all of the rusty spray going everywhere.

Copper is what I had in my last shop and overall was a good system; secure, safe and while not maintenance free (there were some electrolysis issues) it was a solid system. The only negative things about it were: it was very expensive! That copperís not cheap and while easier than iron to install it still took a long time to sweat all the joints.

I built a new, and hopefully last, shop a couple years ago and used a new aluminum pipe system that i wish had been available back when i did my first shop. It has all the "pros" and none of the "cons" of every other system Iíve used. It is safe and secure, extremely easy to install (it took a helper and myself less than a day to install air completely throughout my 8000sqft shop), to date Iíve not had any maintenance or contamination issues, and best of all it was inexpensive - especially compared to copper!

If you want to see any pictures of my latest (last, if I have anything to say about it) shop let me know and Iíll shoot you a couple. Here is the place where I purchased my system - They were easy to work with and helped me out with the design layout a lot.

So to boil it all down Iíd say no to PVC and Iron and yes to either Copper or Aluminum.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:50:00 PM
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

I am pretty happy with pex tubing its cheap and it holds up
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:43:52 PM
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OTTO-Sawyer OTTO-Sawyer is offline
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

Originally Posted by Franz View Post
Actually, copper is a terrible metal for cooling any substance it's carrying unless the copper line is submerged in a cooling liquid.
Copper lines do not give off heat by radiation.
Riiiiiight..... That's why a copper radiator will never cool the engine in your car (or Avery tractor).... because it doesn't radiate heat.

Copper radiators take boiling hot liquid and transfer the heat from it into the air moving around it, hence radiating the heat.

The copper coils on the back of your refrigerator do the same thing radiating the heat from the gas inside to the open air surrounding them.

It's only been a proven fact for a hundred and some odd years now that copper does radiate heat.

It's also plenty strong enough to hold up to the heat and pressure, as can be seen by the fact that most air compressors use copper lines from the compressor to the tank where the most heat is generated along with the high vibration. Copper prices are up high enough right now that it would be an expensive way to go, but if I could afford it I'd love to have my shop equiped with 3/4 or 1 inch copper mainlines and 1/2 inch copper down to the hose disconnect fittings every 15 or 20 feet around the walls.

Since I can't afford that much copper, I would likely go with iron pipe with traps and filters if I ever get around to plumbing it. In the mean time I'm running a 3/4 inch heavy duty hose off the compressor, and then a standard 1/2 inch plugged into that when I need a longer run out to the driveway or back yard. Don't like to run 1/2 inch any longer than I have to if I need full pressure and volume on the impact wrench.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:12:17 AM
Marius Titulescu Marius Titulescu is offline
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

Originally Posted by JeffK View Post
I am pretty happy with pex tubing its cheap and it holds up
I second that. I recommend pex tubing for small jobs especially.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:17:06 PM
akuna akuna is offline
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Default Re: Air compressor and PVC pipe

No to PVC. Yes you can use plastic. Make sure it is rated for Compressed Air use. Was in a shop that had the green plastic pipe for running air. Worked great and was indestructible.

Go check out an industrial supplier in your area for costs. They are also using Aluminum for compressed air systems. Do your research and do it right the first time. People are going away from iron pipe as it is causing problems with contamination.
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