Author: David Connaughton
In a word – NO – Let me repeat just in case you didn’t hear – NO!!
PVC is easy to use and connect, seal and is lightweight so why not use it for compressed air? First OSHA does not allow it. In a report that they posted, they warn that PVC pipe can explode and send shrapnel in all directions. In their report: “a section of PVC pipe being used for compressed air exploded 27 feet above a warehouse floor. A fragment of the pipe flew 60 feet and embedded itself in a roll of paper. Fortunately, nobody was in the area at the time.”
PVC is subject to creep and fatigue over time. Also compressed air pipes can be subject to vibration. The compressible nature of compressed air means that when a rupture occurs, it occurs catastrophically. Compare that to a breach in a water line. Water is non-compressible. Once a rupture occurs all the pressure is quickly dissipated and an explosive tear is avoided.
Note that there are some forms of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) that are safe for use in compressed air systems. Please check with the manufacturer of the pipe to confirm that it is safe for use in your particular application.